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Spin Forward: Time for small ball?

Spin Forward: Time for small ball?

DENVER -- The Arizona D-backs have cultivated a reputation as a team that defies logic. Well, unless they start defying some Colorado pitchers real quick, this National League Championship Series will soon be over.

The D-backs have pitched well and fielded cleanly. But their 0-3 NLCS hole has been dug by an offense that has been neither opportunistic nor timely -- two trademarks of the NL West champions.

Tallying four runs in three games is not going to win many of them. Pressured to win at least one in this tournament so they can begin breathing a little easier, the D-backs at least get some unique reinforcement for Monday night's Game 4.

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In fact, although Arizona manager Bob Melvin has already discounted the possibility of placing starting pitcher Micah Owings higher than No. 9 in his batting order, maybe he'll reconsider after sleeping on it.

Arizona's slumbering attack has been the maddening aspect of having held Colorado to 12 runs in the same three games. That's a stellar, unrewarded pitching effort against a usually more potent club.

"We have to make runs to win. It's hard to win with one run against that team," said Arizona's Miguel Montero.

In his slightly broken English, the Venezuelan catcher may have inadvertently touched upon part of the solution. "Make" runs. When you aren't able to string hits together, manufacture some early offense.

The D-backs have steadfastly preferred to not do that, even though the last two games have been tight affairs possibly swung by some early scoring. Friday night's Game 2 went down to a 3-2 Colorado win in 11 innings, and Game 3 was knotted at 1 until Yorvit Torrealba connected in the sixth.

Still, the D-backs have yet to lay down a single bunt -- albeit, the sacrifice has never been a big part of their game. They had 55 sacs during the regular season, and in the 16-team NL, only the Cubs had fewer.

But this is no longer the regular season. Consistency is a commendable quality. Sometimes, adjusting is equally honorable.

Thus, just maybe, the postgame Arizona commiseration about double plays in each of the first three innings knocking the wind out of them could have been alleviated by a dropped bunt here or there.

Game-opening singles by Chris Young and Stephen Drew led to a line-drive DP by Eric Byrnes.

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"That's how it's been going," Young said. "Byrnes smoked that ball, which is all he can do. A lot of guys have been hitting the ball hard. But we haven't been able to find a hole."

They haven't tried creating their own opening. In that first inning, No. 3 hitter or not, a bunt by Byrnes would have resulted in a run on Tony Clark's ensuing fly to center.

In the second, with two on and one out, a bunt by Augie Ojeda could have landed Josh Fogg in hotter water. Even with the pitcher due up: Ojeda is 2-for-13 in this series and Livan Hernandez, a respected hitter, is batting .500 after his fifth-inning single.

Speaking of pitchers who bring a threat into the batter's box ...

Moving Owings up in the order wouldn't be a move just for effect. Owings batted .333 during the regular season, with four homers and 15 RBIs -- more than four D-backs position players in far more at-bats. He also dialed up a pair of four-hit games (at Atlanta on Aug. 18 and at Pittsburgh on Sept. 27), the first pitcher to do that in 54 years, since Whitey Ford in 1953.

Sure, it would be an unconventional move. The D-backs have to try something to break through. Their offense has been ever more lacking than those four runs would indicate.

One of the runs was set up when pitcher Doug Davis doubled over center fielder Willy Taveras' head. Another scored on an infield grounder.

"It's kind of been the theme of the series: They've gotten that one big hit, and we haven't," Melvin said.

"So that's what it's all about. We're going to have to score some runs [Monday], to give us a chance to win. We've gone through stretches this year where we have not swung the bats very well."

The Long Season affords an opportunity to swing out of those slumps. A short postseason series doesn't wait for anyone. You can be due but, lest you push the envelope a little, you can also be done.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }