Young Diamondbacks Learn Painful Lesson In Sweep By Rockies

Tuesday, October 16th 2007, 8:23 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ The season ending loss for Arizona was ever-so familiar _ a bloop two-run double for Colorado, a costly error, and many, many missed opportunities.

The young Diamondbacks learned some painful lessons while being swept by the remarkable Rockies in the NL championship series.

``I told them this is the start of something, I'm proud of them, we fought again to the end. Hold your heads high because we had a hell of a year,'' Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

Starting four rookies and two second-year players in Game 4, the Diamondbacks finally showed their age in this series. Arizona scored eight runs in four games, not nearly enough against a rollin' Rockies team that seemed to catch every break.

The three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the division series seemed a distant memory with the way the Diamondbacks succumbed to Colorado.

The consolation was the experience gained in front of packed stadiums in the pressure of the playoffs.

``It's unbelievable to be able to get postseason at bats under your belt, especially with a lot of rookies. If we're in the same situation next year, we'll know what it's like,'' rookie third baseman Mark Reynolds said. ``We'll know the feelings, we'll know the crowds, the stadiums and everything. We'll be ready next year.''

One of the rookies, Micah Owings, had Arizona up 1-0 through three innings Monday thanks to his arm and his bat. Colorado's six-run fourth, however, combined the sort of bad luck and poor play that dogged the Diamondbacks.

``Anybody, anytime'' was the rallying cry for Arizona during its improbable drive to the NL West title and a league-best 90 victories. ``Rarely anyone, ever'' fit better at the finish.

The beaten Diamondbacks tried to remember that they got farther than anyone would have predicted last spring.

``Right now it hurts,'' Melvin said, ``because we got to the postseason, we got through the first round. It's a difficult pill to swallow, especially losing in the way that we did, but in a couple of days when we look back at this thing, from where we started and where we ended up, it was a very successful season.''

Owings, a 25-year-old right-hander from Georgia, was tough on the Rockies through three innings, but he walked two with one out in the fourth. He made a diving stop of a soft grounder by Yorvit Torrealba and threw out the runner from his knees for the second out.

The pitcher came up limping with a sore left shin, but after talking with Melvin and a trainer, Owings stayed in the game. Then came the sequence that so exemplified the entire series.

On a 1-2 count, pinch-hitter Seth Smith blooped a two-run double down the left-field line and Colorado led 2-1.

``The whole series went that way for us,'' Reynolds said. ``We couldn't get the big hits. When Seth Smith hit that blooper and scored two runs, Micah made a great pitch and jammed him. They found a hole. Seems if we hit a blooper like that, their right fielder or left fielder is standing right there to catch it.''

Willy Taveras followed with a grounder that first baseman Conor Jackson booted. Jackson also made an error in his only other NLCS start, in Game 1.

Of course, the error would up haunting the snake-bitten Diamondbacks. Kaz Matsui singled in a run, then Matt Holliday hit one somewhere toward Boulder, a three-run homer that capped the six-run outburst.

``The only ball they hit hard off him before Holliday was the Matsui hit,'' Melvin said of Owings. ``He made his pitches all inning. In my opinion he earned the right to face Holliday there.''

On the mound for the first time in 18 days, Owings lasted just 3 2-3 innings. He allowed six runs _ two earned _ and six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He scored Arizona's first run after reaching on an infield single.

``I gave every ounce that I had,'' Owings said. ``I left everything out there. Just a couple of things didn't go our way.''

Chris Snyder made it close with a three-run homer in the eighth. The end though, was the same as the other three games in this series.

Arizona brought the potential tying run to the plate with one out in the ninth, but Stephen Drew popped out on a 3-0 pitch before Eric Byrnes grounded out on a checked swing.

Byrnes said halfway through the series that the Diamondbacks had outplayed the Rockies despite being down 0-2. After going 4-for-17, he wasn't talking that way.

``I had a terrible series,'' Byrnes said. ``That's too bad. Obviously, it's not for lack of effort. It's a tough one to swallow.''