Diamondbacks just one win from World Series
Updated: Sunday October 21, 2001 12:54 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Big Unit and the rest of Bob Brenly's bunch are on the brink.
One more win, that's all the Arizona Diamondbacks need to reach their first World Series. One more and they can wait in the desert for the opener at Bank One Ballpark.
Randy Johnson, coming off a three-hit shutout against Atlanta in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, gets a chance to finish it Sunday night when he starts Game 5.
And don't forget -- they still have Curt Schilling ready to face the Braves later, if necessary.
"We've got nine innings between us and the World Series," Schilling said.
With clutch-hitting Craig Counsell delivering three more hits and driving in four runs, Arizona took advantage of a bumbling performance by Gold Glove pitcher Greg Maddux and the Braves to win 11-4 Saturday night for a 3-1 edge.
Only three times in LCS history have teams overcome such deficits, the last being Atlanta in 1996 against St. Louis. No doubt, Brenly will remind Arizona of that.
"I think if you start looking too far ahead, you can get yourself in trouble," the manager said. "We just want to go out and have Randy pitch the way he's pitched all season long."
NL newcomers in just their fourth year of existence, the Diamondbacks are nonetheless full of players with plenty of experience. They've got Matt Williams, Steve Finley and Schilling, all of whom have been to the World Series.
"Oddly enough, I think this has been a lot more fun for me," said Counsell, whose heroics helped Florida beat Cleveland in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. "I think when I was a rookie, you had those blinders on. I thought it was easy. Four years later, you realize how hard this is to do, what we're trying to do."
"We're nine innings from realizing our dream," Gonzalez said. "We've got the guy going tomorrow who we want."
In a postgame clubhouse where even the rock music was not too loud -- no celebrating early -- team owner Jerry Colangelo spoke calmly.
"A four-year plan was set, and we're in the third year. This would mean a lot to me and to a lot of our players who have never been to the World Series," he said. "We have a lot of them, and that's what would make this special."
Brenly, who came out of the broadcast booth to take over after Buck Showalter was fired, is seeking to become the first manager to lead a team to the World Series in his first season since Jim Frey with Kansas City in 1980. The last NL manager to do it was Sparky Anderson with Cincinnati in 1970.
Brenly shouted the Diamondbacks toward victory Saturday night. When Gonzalez launched a three-run homer in the ninth inning, Brenly yelled from the dugout: "Go ball, go ball, get up, get up."
Before Game 5, Brenly made it clear that he'd thought from the start that his Diamondbacks had a chance to do it.
"Looking at this team and looking at the history of the individual players and seeing how they all meshed together, this is what we've been drilling into our ballclub since the first day of spring training -- we have a team that's capable of getting to the big dance," he said.
"The guys who cover us all year know we're one of the most boring teams in baseball," he said. "We show up every day and keep grinding. That's been my experience in this game, usually that's the best attitude, the best approach to take."
Boring? OK, maybe. But on the brink of the World Series? Certainly.