So it's come down to this--a fifth and deciding game tomorrow afternoon for the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks in what has become a humdinger of a a first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Last night's 10-6 win seemed closer than the final score indicates, with neither team able to stop the other for too long. A four-run lead against the hard-hitting Brewers doesn't feel like a lot, even with D-Backs closer J.J. Putz on the mound in the ninth.
Remarkable team effort last night, starting with Ryan Roberts' first-inning grand-slam homer (what is it with the Tat Man and timely round-trippers?).
Chris Young added a pair of homers, Aaron Hill hit a big two-run shot late in the game, and Miguel Montero had three hits.
Let's not forget Paul Goldschmidt, who goes to right-field with tough pitches as well as any young player in the game, and seems to get more than his share of two-strike hits.
As for the pitching, call it a team effort.
Joe Saunders had far from his best stuff, but got out of a third-inning jam without too much damage after it appeared that Milwaukee was going to catch and pass the hometown D-Backs.
Micah Owings gave Arizona two big innings in relief of Saunders, and the D-Backs would not be denied, adding to their lead every time the Brewers made yet another run at them.
A disappointing crowd of about 38,000 (10,000 or so from a sellout) made a bunch of noise throughout, knowing full well that an Arizona loss would spell the end to what has become a wonderful little season.
The win sends the two evenly matched teams back to Milwaukee for a deciding NLDS game that has all the makings of a classic.
Ian Kennedy, one of the National League's best pitchers of 2011, will get a second chance in the series to best the Brew Crew, and he'll have to do it at a packed stadium that has been very, very good to Milwaukee all season (The Brewers have the best home record in MLB).
The big game starts at 2:07 p.m., which means that many of us will have to rearrange our busy and important (ha!) schedules to find a TV somewhere, or at least a radio.
This year's edition of the Diamondbacks has defined heart, whatever happens tomorrow.
BTW, if the Diamondbacks do win on Friday afternoon, it would mark the first time that a National League team came from a two-game deficit in the best-of-five playoff format to win a series.
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