2007 NLCS just start of D-Backs-Rockies rivalry? - East Valley Tribune: Sports

2007 NLCS just start of D-Backs-Rockies rivalry?

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Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008 2:18 am | Updated: 9:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

TUCSON - The last two teams standing in the National League last season, the Diamondbacks and Colorado, have the look of long-term rivals.

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That is the D-Backs' sense, anyway, after they opened their 2008 Cactus League spring training season Thursday the way the 2007 National League championship series never could have ended, in a 5-5 tie at Tucson Electric Park that was called after nine innings because split-squad Colorado exhausted its pitching.

"People looked at the Yankees and the BoSox (Boston) for years in the past and are still looking at them," D-Backs second baseman Orlando Hudson said.

"Now you have the Diamondbacks and Rockies, two young teams that are going head to head. You look at the lineups, we match up pretty much around the horn. You watch a lot of these guys ... like, wow, for both teams.

"The people on the East Coast might stay up a little later to watch the Diamondbacks and the Rockies."

The D-Backs and Rockies have created contenders in the same image, with young, mostly homegrown talent weaned in the major leagues.

The D-Backs made the bigger offseason move this year, bringing in Dan Haren, but other than that, the teams seemed satisfied to massage their rosters after winning 90 games apiece.

If a rivalry does spring from familiarity, it's about time. The teams have trained in Tucson since 1998, and after six yearly exhibition games they play six series against each other in the regular season.

"We play them so many times, here in spring and during the season, of course rivalries are going to occur," said D-Backs first baseman Conor Jackson, who had two hits Thursday. "I don't think we have a rival, like Los Angeles or San Fran. I don't think Colorado has a rival. So why not make it both of us?"

"We'll see," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "It's a natural."

The youngest of the D-Backs helped them overcome a 4-0 deficit in the seventh inning. Gerardo Parra had rally-starting singles in the seventh and eighth innings, and Emilio Bonifacio drove in a run in each inning, including the tie-breaking single for a 5-4 lead in the eighth.

Colorado tied it in the ninth when Jailen Peguero hit Jeff Baker on the first pitch he saw with two outs and the bases loaded to tie the game at 5-5.

"We have two good, young teams with a lot of great pitching. Young pitching. Good hitters," Hudson said.

"You have guys like (Jeff) Francis and (Brandon) Webb. We have Randy (Johnson), Dan Haren. They have Aaron Cook. There are definitely going to be some battles going on for the whole season."

Micah Owings, who started Game 4 of the NLCS in Colorado, gave up two runs in two innings and estimated he threw 10 or so change-ups among his 46 pitches. He struck out Willy Taveras with a change-up to end the second inning.

Asked if he hoped to incorporate that into his repertoire, Owings said, "I don't hope. I know I'm going to do it. It's just getting a feel for it now.

"It will complement the rest of my stuff and keep hitters off balance a little more."

Melvin noted Owings is throwing his change-up more slowly than he did last season, and it is more deceptive because it is 10 or 11 mph slower than his fastball.

"That's going to be important for him - when your fastball and slider are pretty close in speed," Melvin said, "To have something that is a little bit slower is important for him."

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