10/02/2002 03:49 am ET
Bad from the start
Error on game's first play magnified with homer
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The first play of the National League Division Series went wrong for the Diamondacks.
And it got worse from there.
Fernando Vina led off the game with a routine grounder to Diamondbacks shortstop Tony Womack, who fielded it cleanly, but misfired on his throw to first allowing Vina to reach safely.
It would be a sign of things to come for the D-Backs, who played uncharacteristically sloppy, watched their ace struggle and their bullpen implode in a 12-2 loss to the Cardinals in Game 1.
One batter after Vina reached on the error, Jim Edmonds deposited a Randy Johnson pitch 424-feet away in the right-field bleachers and St. Louis led 2-0. Just like that.
The Cardinals capitalized on another Arizona error in the seventh inning, which also was the inning that the bullpen failed to keep the game even remotely within shouting distance.
Four Arizona relievers combined to allow six runs in three innings of work, turning a four-run game into a 10-run rule special. Though, it should be pointed out that one of those relievers, Rick Helling, threw two scoreless innings. That left Matt Matei, Greg Swindell and Mike Fetters on the hook.
Starter Randy Johnson was removed after six innings with the D-Backs trailing 6-2. Mantei walked Albert Pujols to begin the seventh and after getting Scott Rolen to pop out, he allowed a single to Edgar Renteria.
The Diamondbacks then brought in Swindell, who walked Tino Martinez to load the bases. Mike Matheny then laid down a bunt that Swindell fielded and threw wildly to first base allowing two runs to score.
First baseman Mark Grace, who was the intended receiver on both poor throws, didn't think the D-Backs played poor defense overall. He tried to keep his sense of humor in explaining Swindell's error.
"We booted a ball there in the first inning," Grace said. "But I never count pitchers as part of defense. Greg threw a ball away, but other than that we made every play. That's what opened it up, but like I said, pitchers don't count for defense."
They do though count in the run column, and things got worse for Swindell when the next batter after the error, pitcher Matt Morris, singled to left, driving in two more runs. Swindell was removed after allowing a single to Vina and a fly out to Eli Marrero, in favor of right-hander Fetters.
Fetters walked Edmonds to load the bases and then gave up a two-run single to Pujols and suddenly, the Cardinals led 12-2 and the Diamondbacks were looking ahead to Thursday.
"We didn't play well," third baseman Matt Williams said. "It's one game. We'll put it behind us and come out ready to go Thursday in Game 2. We didn't expect to sweep this team."
Steve Gilbert is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.