The Diamondbacks have lost the first two games of the National League Championship Series, and despite all the promise of youth for a team that won 90 games and a NL West Division title at least a year or two before most observers could have expected, another loss could be at hand.
Could Arizona be on the verge of losing two-time Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman Orlando Hudson, whom Arizona already is missing because of season-ending thumb surgery?
Hudson, the effervescent backbone of this Diamondbacks team in many ways, from his enthusiasm and athleticism to his leadership and commercialism, conceded before Arizona's loss in Game 2 against the Colorado Rockies that there's a chance he might not be back next season.
Though Diamondbacks fans would expect management to do what it did with outfielder Eric Byrnes not so long ago and sign Hudson to a multi-year contract extension to keep another veteran presence around a young team that is brimming with confidence, Hudson isn't so sure it will happen.
He looks at the likes of Augie Ojeda, who has filled in admirably at second base in Hudson's absence, and the super speedy prospect Emilio Bonifacio, who could beckon for more playing time at the position, too, after a stellar minor league season and call-up to the majors late in the season. To Hudson, it all adds up to one thing: He could be traded in the offseason.
"If that's the case, then that's the case," Hudson told The Arizona Republic on Friday. "Then I have to move on. I'll still have much love for Augie. He's a great dude, a great teammate, a great guy to have on a team. And I told him things happen for a reason.
"The man wouldn't be playing if I was healthy. He wouldn't be doing the things he's doing now, and maybe God has shown a sign that this man here can still play the game. I ain't got nothing but love for the man. So if it's him that gets the deal and plays here, a big hug and a kiss. I'll move on."
Right now, the chances are even greater that the Rockies will move on and advance to the World Series for the first time in their history. No team has ever lost the first two games at home in the NLCS and recovered to win the series.
ROCKIES 3, DIAMONDBACKS 2 (11 innings): Jose Valverde led the major leagues with 47 saves this season, but when he walked Colorado's Willy Taveras on four pitches with the bases loaded in the 11th inning Friday at Chase Field, it might have ended the Diamondbacks' hopes of returning the World Series.
Arizona, which won the World Series in 2001 with a thrilling Game 7 victory over the New York Yankees, now has the unenviable position of trying to battle back from an 0-2 series deficit with the next three games scheduled for Coors Field in Denver.
The Diamondbacks rallied to tie the score in the ninth when Rockies second baseman Kaz Matsui made a throwing error on a groundball hit by Arizona's Eric Byrnes. Arizona had a chance to do more damage, but shortstop Stephen Drew didn't know he was safe at second and started trotting toward the dugout. He was tagged out, killing a further rally.
In the 11th, Valverde loaded the bases thanks to an infield single and two walks, and then he walked in Taveras to give Colorado the lead and help the Rockies win their 19th game in their last 20 tries.
"It's baseball," Valverde said. "Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. But everybody has confidence and we'll be ready for the next game in Colorado (on Sunday)."
--RF Justin Upton's hard slide into second base during the seventh inning of Game 1 was still a hot subject of debate a day later, but Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin tried to downplay the situation that led to an automatic double play and some unruly actions by a handful of fans who pelted the playing field with water bottles and other objects.
"It's human nature," Melvin said. "His job is to go in there and try to take the guy out."
Because the play was an interpretation call by second base ump Larry Vanover, Melvin said there was no reason to file any complaints or protests.
"We just want to move on and play," Melvin said. "Not dwell on it too much."
--3B Mark Reynolds said the play involving teammate Justin Upton in Game 1 won't affect the way the Diamondbacks slide into second base, especially as far as he is concerned.
"Definitely not," said Reynolds, a rookie like Upton. "I thought it was a clean slide. But it's just the way it goes sometimes. It's a tough break for us because it really killed a rally right there."
--RHP Tony Pena has six strikeouts in two innings of relief for the Diamondbacks.
--Diamondbacks assistant general manager Peter Woodfork is drawing interest from a few major league teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals, who have been asking to speak with him. It wasn't immediately known, however, if the two sides have spoken or if Woodfork is a possible candidate to interview for the Cardinals' vacant GM position.
--RHP Brandon Webb, after throwing 98 pitches in losing Game 1, probably won't pitch on short rest and start Monday's Game 4, although manager Bob Melvin would not entirely rule it out.
"Not as I'm standing here right now," Melvin said, keeping his options fully open.
--The Diamondbacks were anticipating some cold weather in Denver as the NLCS shifts to Coors Field, where temperatures are expected to be in the 40s during the day, with a 60 percent chance of rain on Sunday for Game 3.
"You're not as loose, to an extent, and the ball probably doesn't travel as well," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "Once the game gets going, you just have a feel for the conditions. You've played in them before, maybe not recently, but it's not something brand new. Both teams have to deal with it."
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Number of teams in the history of the National League Championship Series that have the lost the first two games at home and come back to win the series.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Tough losses, tough stretches, we've been through the gamut. I've told our guys periodically that all the things that have transpired this year have enabled us to be able to overcome whatever it may be coming down the stretch." -- Manager Bob Melvin on his team's resilience this season.
ANALYZING THE LINEUP:
1. CF Chris Young
2. SS Stephen Drew
3. LF Eric Byrnes
4. 1B Tony Clark
5. 3B Mark Reynolds
6. RF Jeff Salazar
7. C Chris Snyder
8. 2B Augie Ojeda
Comment: The Diamondbacks stranded 20 more runners Friday, giving them 34 left on base in two games of the NLCS. That's horrendous. Their season-long hitting woes seem to have caught up with them.
ANALYZING THE ROTATION:
1. RHP Brandon Webb
2. LHP Doug Davis
3. RHP Livan Hernandez
4. RHP Micah Owings
Comment: Davis had a typical performance Friday. He was in near constant trouble and wriggled out of it, for the most part. But he needed so many pitches to do so, that he lasted only five innings.
ANALYZING THE BULLPEN:
RH closer Jose Valverde
RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Tony Pena Jr.
RHP Juan Cruz
Comment: This group was once again lights-out in Game 2 until Valverde lost the strike zone in the 11th.
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