Lights Out! Rockies Roar Into NLCS
Sunday, October 7, 2007; 5:15 AM
DENVER -- Lights out! The blackout at Coors Field was caused by a cranky computer. Blame the Philadelphia Phillies' power outage on rookie Ubaldo Jimenez and a Colorado bullpen that's been untouchable for three weeks.
The Rockies roared into the NL championship series Saturday night, completing a three-game playoff sweep by beating Philadelphia 2-1 on pinch-hitter Jeff Baker's tiebreaking single with two outs in the eighth inning.
Colorado's 17th win in 18 games was fueled by Jimenez, the hard-throwing 23-year-old who allowed one run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings during a pitchers' duel at Coors Field, of all places. Then, those reliable Rockies relievers silenced Philadelphia's dangerous bats for the third straight game.
"We're winning with our bats, our gloves and our arms," Rockies MVP hopeful Matt Holliday said. "We're winning with both youth and experience, with power and little punches. That's a good brand of baseball to be playing."
The wild-card Rockies get four days off before opening the NLCS on Thursday in Arizona, the first time two teams from the NL West have met in the league championship series.
The young Diamondbacks, also a big surprise this season, finished a first-round sweep of the Chicago Cubs earlier Saturday.
The Phillies rode a September surge of their own to the NL East title and their first playoff berth in 14 years. But they went flat in the postseason despite a lineup that includes Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and MVP contender Jimmy Rollins.
"What will I remember the most?" Howard said. "The resiliency of this team. We never gave up. We had a lot of injuries this year and fought back the entire year and made it here to the playoffs."
Philadelphia still hasn't won a postseason game since Joe Carter's famous homer off Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams to win the 1993 World Series for Toronto. The City of Brotherly Love is still looking for its first major pro sports championship since 1983.
This series was supposed to be a slugfest between the NL's two highest-scoring teams _ in two of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. But the Rockies put on a pitching performance that rivaled any in recent memory, shutting down Philadelphia's sluggers time and time again.
They did it with a rotation that featured ace Jeff Francis and two rookies, plus a bullpen that has become dominant over the last three incredible weeks.
This was the first time the Rockies won a game at Coors Field while scoring only one or two runs since July 9, 2005, when they beat San Diego 1-0.