D-backs 'comfortable being uncomfortable'
APR 27, 2013 10:33p ET
Here they are, within a game of first place in the NL West after Cody Ross’ sacrifice fly drove in the winning run in a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Rockies on Saturday, while overcoming a rash of injuries, an occasionally shaky bullpen and just two total victories out of the top three starters in the rotation.
It is not the preferred method, but if that is what it takes ...
“We know we are short-handed with guys on the DL, but no one is going to use that as an excuse for anything,” veteran Eric Hinske said. "We have a lot of talented players in here, and everybody’s got each other’s backs. That’s the bottom line.
“We are playing for each other, and we are playing hard.”
It has not mattered that the D-backs (14-10) lead the major leagues with eight failed save conversions after another one Saturday, have played the entire season with two starting outfielders on the disabled list, recently lost No. 3 hitter Aaron Hill and have three regulars still searching to find themselves at the plate.
They are 6-0 in extra-inning games, have won eight games in their last at-bat and have played a major-league-high 17 games decided by two runs or less. Four of their last five victories have been in extra innings.
So it did not matter Saturday that Wade Miley was uncharacteristically wild, walking seven in 4 1/3 innings, that the bullpen needed two innings out of David Hernandez for the first time since the 2011 NLDS or that they were playing a man down with the temporary loss of Didi Gregorius, still waiting to be cleared by doctors after being hit by a pitch in the head Friday.
“We are definitely not playing at full strength. We have four starters out,” Ross said. "It is tough to make up those quality at-bats and the potential numbers those guys are going to put up, but that just shows the depth of our team.
“Everybody in this locker room has 100 percent confidence in each other. No matter who is at the plate, whether it is your star or your ninth hitter or a pinch hitter, we feel like somebody is going to come up and get the job done.”
Ross had a star on the back of the T-shirt he wore to work Saturday, and his game-ending sac fly and RBI triple in the first inning were certainly significant, but many qualified.
A.J. Pollock, who homered in the first and singled to ignite the winning rally in the 10th, may have been caught in a numbers game if Ross and Adam Eaton had not suffered injures in spring training.
Active and alert, Pollock has been instrumental in the D-backs' early success, and he set up Ross' game-winning drive by stealing second base with one out in the 10th. He took third when catcher Wilin Rosario threw the ball into center field, forcing the Rockies to intentionally walk Miguel Montero.
“Something doesn’t go your way, it’s stupid if you get down, because we’ve come back so many times,” said Pollock, hitting .269 with three homers and 10 RBIs.
“We’ve proved we can come from behind. We can come from behind twice. It’s fun squeaking out a win like that.”
Ross followed with the kind of quality late-inning at-bat that helped him become the MVP of the 2010 NLCS while with the Giants. He missed two weeks at the start of this season with a calf injury before returning April 13, and he has played every game since.
“It’s definitely nice to be on this side of it,” Ross said. "I had my fair share of walk-off losses last year (with the Red Sox). It’s definitely something that you have to have if you are going to plan on playing down the stretch and into the playoffs. You have to win the close ones, and you have to win the walk-offs and the one-run games on the road, too."
Jason Kubel is close to returning from the disabled list, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist could be the next starter back. And while the D-backs are likely to be without Hill and Adam Eaton for another month, they have shown they can work around obstacles.
“I just think overall the sum of what we’ve all done together has been pretty good given the circumstances," manager Kirk Gibson said. " They’ve embraced the situations. Some of our guys have been hurt, but the guys who have been asked to come in and fill in for them have done what we’ve asked.
“That’s a good sign.”
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