Capitalizing on friendly environs will be critical for Arizona, given Colorado's own home excellence. The Rockies were 51-31 at Coors Field, where they hit .298 and scored 478 runs, both league-leading figures. The D-backs ranked last in the NL with a .241 road average and 326 runs.
Trying to determine who owns the advantage in the NLCS based on regular-season matchups won't bear much fruit. Colorado won the season series 10-8, while outscoring Arizona, 86-72. But the D-backs had an easier time generating runs, outhomering Colorado, 14-9. Twelve of the games were decided by two runs or less, with each team winning six.
Key late-game matchup
D-backs closer Jose Valverde must step up his game against the Rockies' top hitters. Todd Helton is 6-for-9 off Valverde; Matt Holliday has gone 2-for-4. Also, D-backs hitters are just 3-for-36 lifetime against Rockies closer Manny Corpas.
D-backs Secret Weapon
Don't hold Tony Clark back against Colorado. He has four homers and 13 RBIs in just 31 at-bats against the Rockies this year.
D-backs Achilles' heel
Shorten the game just a little. Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon have been excellent setup men, but the "bridge" to the ninth inning can be weakened if the D-backs have to accelerate their bullpen timetable by calling on them earlier than usual.
D-backs manager: Bob Melvin
If Melvin isn't everybody's NL Manager of the Year choice, he's high on the list. Always cool, he can be counted on to make tough decisions under pressure.
Three reasons the D-backs will win
The D-backs have defied statistics and the experts all year by thriving despite being outscored overall. Why should anything change now?
Home-field advantage. It's only a one-game edge, but it could make the difference.
The southpaw factor. Arizona was 28-17 against left-handed starters in the regular season, which could negate the effectiveness of Colorado ace Jeff Francis. The Rockies were 20-24 against lefties, so expect Doug Davis of the D-backs to get his chances to start.
The tight squeeze fits. Arizona was 32-20 in one-run games in the regular season, compared to Colorado's 18-19. This will help the D-backs throughout the postseason, when games are close more often than not.