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NLCS NOTEBOOK

Rockies' Long Break 'Is Not a Problem'

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DENVER, Oct. 16 -- No team since the 1976 Cincinnati Reds had won its first seven games of the postseason before the Colorado Rockies did it this year, closing that run with a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

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The difference: When the Reds won their seventh game, they were world champions. The Rockies' seventh straight win afforded them only a week's break before the World Series.

With the postseason schedule altered this year to better accommodate television -- more off days were added -- the World Series won't begin until next Wednesday in either Cleveland or Boston. Because the Rockies swept the Diamondbacks, they will have the longest break ever before the Series. Back when the "Big Red Machine" won the World Series, there only were two rounds to the playoffs -- the best-of-five NLCS and the best-of-seven Series.

"The fact that we get to go to the World Series, I'll take 100 days off," said Matt Holliday, the MVP of the NLCS. "It doesn't matter."

The Rockies took Tuesday off, but they planned on light workouts over the course of the week. They had a similar situation after they swept the Philadelphia Phillies in the division series, with a four-day break between games.

"I think it's good for a lot of guys, myself included, who can work on their swings," third baseman Garrett Atkins said. "It's not a problem."

Left-hander Jeff Francis will be the Game 1 starter, as he was in the NLCS. That puts him with 12 days off between starts.

D-backs' Future Is Bright

Arizona Manager Bob Melvin, whose team finished with the best record in the National League despite infamously being outscored for the season, addressed his team in the visitors' clubhouse at Coors Field after the sweep.

"I told them this is the start of something," Melvin said.

There is reason to believe that. Arizona's regular lineup featured three promising rookies -- right fielder Justin Upton, center fielder Chris Young and third baseman Mark Reynolds.

"It's got the potential to be a very, very nice run," Melvin said. "We've got a lot of younger players that not only have more upside, I think, as far as numbers go, but with the experience they've accumulated this year -- whether it's big games down the stretch, postseason, whatever -- I think they're going to be better because of it."

Holliday Delivers

Holliday, the NL batting champ and RBI king, had a shaky start to the NLCS, going 1 for 8 in the first two games. But he rebounded with four hits in his last seven at-bats, including a solo homer off Livan Hernandez in Game 3 and the key three-run blast off Micah Owings in Game 4, to earn series MVP honors. Holliday's postseason average is .286 -- down from .340 in the regular season -- but he has four homers in the Rockies' seven games, giving him a .714 slugging percentage for the playoffs, up from .607 in the regular season. . . .

Hernandez, the former National, is a free agent, and he left open the possibility of returning to Washington. "I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I could play anywhere."


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