D-backs put faith in Davis for Game 2
Lefty takes maturity, relaxed nature to mound in critical start
PHOENIX -- Standing in front of his locker, Doug Davis knew the questions were coming. A slight grin even surfaced when they did.
Having watched his team fall to a 1-0 deficit against the Rockies in the National League Championship Series on Thursday night, Davis didn't need to be reminded by members of the media that preventing the D-backs from falling into a two-game hole lies heavily in his hands.
He knows it, and he has a plan.
"I'm just going to go at it like it's Game 1 of the season," Davis said confidently. "Tomorrow's a new day. We bounce back with the best of them."
In a lot of ways, left-hander Davis doesn't quite fit in with the makeup of the D-backs.
He is one of only three D-backs players to have played on at least four different Major League ballclubs in his career. He wasn't a product of the Arizona farm system. And on a team often defined by words like "young" and "inexperienced," Davis is an elder of sorts at the age of 32.
But he does share one thing in common.
On a team that is channeling its inexperience into working for its advantage rather than fighting inexperience's ability to produce nerves, Davis can relate.
He's not getting worked up. His demeanor would suggest that nerves won't be getting the best of him. And that, according to his teammates, is why they are confident in watching him take the mound in what some view as a must-win Game 2 on Friday.
"Doug is as prepared as anybody," said Brandon Webb, who took the Game 1 loss. "We've come back after some tough losses, and we'll come back and go after it again tomorrow."
Arizona second baseman Augie Ojeda echoed that sentiment.
"We have lots of confidence in Doug," Ojeda said. "He pitched a great game last week, and if he has his good stuff, we're going to have a good shot at winning."
Whether Davis has "his good stuff" will be heavily contingent on one thing -- strike one. Getting ahead in the count has been a positive harbinger throughout the season and will be key in keeping a Rockies team that has hit him at a .343 clip this year off balance.
"I'm going to have to expand the plate," said Davis, who will enter the game having won nine of his last 11 decisions. "They are pretty patient hitters, and so it's important that I expand the plate."
Still, Davis appears unfazed by the fact that his upcoming start on Friday will more than likely take the "biggest game of my life" title away from any previous game earning that distinction.
The lefty will take any advantage that he can get against the core of the Rockies lineup, which has hit him pretty well this year. Todd Helton, Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins all hit better than .500 against the Arizona lefty this season and combined for 13 hits and five RBIs.
However, those individual results mask the overall success Davis has had against the Rockies, posting a 3.18 ERA against the club in three starts against Colorado this season.
Davis is also hopeful that making the Rockies offense handle his slow and methodical routine on the mound will provide a slight advantage.
"It may put the batter to sleep while I am up there," said Davis, who has a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against the Rockies. "So if I get them off balance, that's what pitching is."
That routine, however, is just as critical in maintaining his own rhythm as it is knocking Colorado hitters out of theirs.
"He can rope a dopey a little bit, but I think it works for him," said Arizona manager Bob Melvin. "At times during the season, he's very aware of it, first of all, but based on experiences in the past with his mechanics and so forth, he has to be a little bit methodical."
It took Davis more than 10 years to make the climb from Minor League ball to postseason play, but you won't find the left-hander complaining. While he will watch teammates nearly a decade younger making their first NLCS appearances, Davis truly believes that his timing is just right.
"I couldn't imagine myself, no," Davis said when asked if he could imagine pitching on this October stage as a rookie. "I always, when I was younger, just in regular games, I'd always try to overthrow and try to do too much. And I wasn't very successful in my early years in the big leagues."
He picked up a win in the Division Series, finishing 5 2/3 innings and allowing four earned runs before handing the game over to the bullpen to protect the lead. And both he and his teammates are convinced he will do it again.
"We have Davis out on the mound," said center fielder Chris Young, "and I'm sure he'll give us his best stuff."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.