As if the National League Championship Series between NL West rivals Arizona and Colorado needed any more fire, it came anyway during the seventh inning of the Rockies' 5-1 victory in Game 1 at Chase Field.
With the Diamondbacks trailing by four runs, no outs and runners at first and second, Arizona's Augie Ojeda hit a groundball to third baseman Garrett Atkins. Atkins fielded it, then turned and fired to second baseman Kaz Matsui, with baserunner Justin Upton coming in hard to second.
Upton slid over the bag and rammed his right shoulder into Matsui's leg, knocking the second baseman down. Second base umpire Larry Vanover called Upton out on interference, resulting in a big double play for the Rockies, as Ojeda was automatically called out on the play as well.
Then several unruly fans showed their displeasure with the call by littering the field with water bottles and other objects.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle pulled his players off the field, and after a warning to fans from the stadium's public-address announcer, Colorado players returned for the final out of the inning.
"Obviously, we don't condone that," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "You don't want stuff being thrown on the field. We're not in favor of that."
Melvin wasn't in favor of Vanover's ruling on Upton, either, saying the rookie right fielder "was in position to touch the base."
"I felt he could get the base," Melvin said. "I think (Vanover) agreed with that. I think it was more intent. I don't know. You'll have to ask him. But obviously, I didn't agree with it, and that's why I went out there (to argue)."
The Diamondbacks won't blame the controversial play on their losing Game 1, but it does serve as extra motivation to come back with a better performance in Game 2 on Friday at Chase Field.
"We bounce back after losses. We'll be all right," said Brandon Webb, Thursday's starting pitcher, who allowed four earned runs in the game -- the highest total he's allowed since Sept. 12.
ROCKIES 5, DIAMONDBACKS 1: Colorado didn't hit a home run and didn't even get an extra-base hit, but it managed to beat Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks Thursday -- on the road at Chase Field -- to take a 1-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Jeff Francis allowed one run and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, walking one batter and striking out four, as the Rockies won for the 18th time in their past 19 games. Game 2 is Friday night in Phoenix, and a loss by the Diamondbacks would put this series in complete favor of Colorado with Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary, in Denver.
The Rockies finished with eight hits, all singles, seven of them off Webb, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. Webb allowed four runs -- one on the second inning and three in the third -- after Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Eric Byrnes. Brad Hawpe went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs. Kaz Matsui also had two RBIs for the Rockies. Webb was 1-3 with a 5.77 ERA against the Rockies during the regular season.
"They were finding holes against me tonight," Webb said. "You've just got to tip your cap to them."
--RF Carlos Quentin underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday, a procedure that likely will sideline him through spring training next year.
"It dealt with both repairing the labrum and the rotator cuff," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Dealing with both of those issues, it's hard to pinpoint a timeline, but six months is a reasonable guess."
--LHP Doug Davis, who picked up a victory in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Cubs, will pitch Game 2 on Friday against the Rockies. He is 2-3 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against Colorado and 8-2 with a 4.27 ERA in 21 games at Chase Field.
--1B Tony Clark came up with the Diamondbacks' rallying cry this season, "Anyone, Anytime," and it apparently caught on so well, the veteran decided he had to protect the slogan through legal channels.
"The only reason I copyrighted it or patented it was because I have a Christian clothing line myself and that thought process or slogan would fit with what I was trying to piece together," he said. "That was the only reason I did it, just to have access to it if I needed it."
--RHP Micah Owings is scheduled to pitch Game 4 of the series in Colorado, but ace RHP Brandon Webb said he might seek out manager Bob Melvin and make his plea to pitch on three days' rest depending on how the series is shaking out.
"I'll play it by ear and see how I feel," Webb said.
--2B Orlando Hudson, who tore a ligament in his left thumb during the first week in September and underwent surgery to repair the injury, isn't ruling out the possibility of returning to action should the Diamondbacks manage to advance to the World Series.
"I'm hoping," he said, "but Augie (Ojeda) has been doing a great job, man."
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
--LHP Franklin Morales, who started Game 2 of the National
League Division Series, was pushed back to Game 4 in the National League
Championship Series, with Ubaldo Jimenez moved into the No. 2 slot and
Josh Fogg inserted for Game 3.
"I wanted to split the youngsters," manager Clint Hurdle said of Jimenez and Morales, both rookies. "Then there was the first home game (Game 3). Fogg has responded to that environment."
--LHP Jeremy Affeldt came on to face Arizona SS Stephen Drew with the bases loaded in the seventh, threw one pitch and got him to fly out to right field.
"I had to pump a strike and keep it low," Affeldt said. "He almost got me. He got under it. It was just in enough. I probably played with fire a little bit there and didn't get burnt this time."
--2B Kazuo Matsui leads all players in the postseason with seven RBIs, the latest coming on his run-scoring single in the third.
-- MGR Clint Hurdle on changing his lineup after his team had gone 17-1, the loss coming against Webb and the Diamondbacks, by putting Willy Taveras, who last played Sept. 8, in the leadoff spot:
"I know the lineup we threw out there against (Brandon) Webb the last time didn't work. People brought a lot of attention to the one game we haven't won in this run we've been on. I just thought we needed to go at them a different way with some people that have had success, and we were able to have some good at-bats early."
BY THE NUMBERS: 350 -- Career starts by RHP Livan Hernandez, Arizona's scheduled starter for Game 3, which is 31 more starts than the Rockies' first four scheduled starters combined.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you look at the number of close games and one-run games we've played, they've been significant contributors in those games. Everyone talks about run differential and all of that, but we played a lot of close games, and a lot of that has to do with Tony Pena, Brandon Lyon and Jose Valverde. Psychologically, we've been though enough of them to feel like we're going to win." -- Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin on the back end of his bullpen and its important in the NLCS against the Rockies.
ANALYZING THE LINEUP:
1. CF Chris Young
2. SS Stephen Drew
3. LF Eric Byrnes
4. 1B Conor Jackson
5. 3B Mark Reynolds
6. C Chris Snyder
7. RF Justin Upton
8. 2B Augie Ojeda
Comment: Leaving 14 runners on base, as the Diamondbacks did in Game 1, is not going to get it done. The lack of a major power hitter could prove to be a fatal flaw in a long series with Colorado's mashers.
ANALYZING THE ROTATION:
1. RHP Brandon Webb
2. LHP Doug Davis
3. RHP Livan Hernandez
4. RHP Micah Owings
Comment: When the ace loses the opener, it usually spells trouble. The Diamondbacks have to hope that the veteran poise of Davis will be an edge against Rockies rookie Ubaldo Jimenez Game 2.
ANALYZING THE BULLPEN:
RH closer Jose Valverde
RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Tony Pena Jr.
RHP Juan Cruz
Comment: The unearned run Cruz allowed in the seventh inning Thursday is the only run given up by Diamondbacks relievers 11 1/3 innings this postseason.
Are you a full member of FutureBacks.com? If not, then you are missing out on the top Diamondbacks coverage we provide to our premium members, as well as full access to over 300 other Scout.com sites. Join us today!