10/16/07 3:45 AM ET
What a ride: D-backs go out swinging
Snyder belts late three-run homer, but big fourth ices NLCS
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Monday night, though, the visitor's clubhouse at Coors Field that saw Arizona clinch the National League West crown was anything but a happy place for the D-backs.
There were plenty of hugs and some tears as the D-backs tried to come to grips with the sudden end to their season brought on by a 6-4 loss to the Rockies in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
General manager Josh Byrnes made the rounds, shaking hands with each of the players, and manager Bob Melvin did likewise.
There was obvious disappointment at missing the opportunity to get to the World Series for the second time in franchise history, and frustration at being unable to derail the Rockies, who have won a mind-boggling 21 of 22 games.
But there was also pride in a season that saw a team of young players overcome injuries and adversity to win a National League-best 90 games and sweep the Cubs in the NL Division Series.
"It hurts right now," Melvin said standing in the middle of the clubhouse patiently answering question after question. "But when you sit back and reflect on where we came from, obviously it was a successful season."
It certainly wasn't a successful series, though, as Arizona's penchant for coming up with the big hit at the crucial times seemed to evaporate. The D-backs were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position coming into the game, and they went 2-for-10 on this night.
"They've got a good team, and we just missed opportunities the whole time, so if you're looking for someone to blame, start here," left fielder Eric Byrnes said. "I had a terrible series. It was too bad. Obviously, it wasn't for a lack of effort."
The D-backs had some reason for optimism in the early stages when they grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third, thanks to a two-out single by Conor Jackson.
While the advantage was just one run, it was noteworthy given the fact that the only other time the D-backs led in the entire series was when they scored a run in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1.
That lead didn't last as the Rockies scored a run in the top of the second and exploded for a six-run fourth to put the game, and the series, away.
D-backs starter Micah Owings kept the Rockies off the scoreboard through the first three innings. After the right-hander got Garrett Atkins to line out to start the fourth, he issued back-to-back walks to Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki.
Yorvit Torrealba, the hero of Game 3 for Colorado, then hit a tapper to the first-base side of the mound. Owings dove, stopped the ball and threw out Torrealba at first, but was slow to get up.
"My back stiffened up a little bit," he said. "But the main thing was it just knocked the breath out of me."
Owings (0-1) would stay in the game, and the next batter, pinch-hitter Seth Smith, hit a blooper that landed just inside the left-field foul line for a two-run double that gave the Rockies a 2-1 lead.
The hit was symbolic of the entire series.
"I had a feeling off the bat that it was going to drop," Owings said. "Like I said, we didn't have many things drop our way this series, and that's part of the game, part of baseball. You've got to tip your cap to those guys."
The D-backs could have been out of the inning with no further damage when Willy Taveras hit a grounder to first, but Jackson booted the ball for an error.
"It was a routine grounder and I kicked it," Jackson said. "It cost us four runs, and that was pretty much the ballgame after that."
That's because Kaz Matsui then came up with a run-scoring single and Matt Holliday followed with a three-run homer to cap the six-run inning.
As the 50,213 towel-waving fans counted down the outs remaining in the game, the D-backs made one last attempt to save their season.
Chris Snyder hit a three-run homer in the eighth, and the D-backs brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings, but just couldn't get it done.
"We started to swing the bats much better, and true to form we kept battling," Melvin said. "So we gave ourselves a chance. We just came up just one good swing short."
So what had been an amazing ride came to a sudden end. They won't be sporting World Series rings when they reconvene in Tucson, Ariz., next spring, but the young D-backs nonetheless will carry with them good memories from 2007.
"We believed in ourselves the entire season, and we ended up being one of the last four teams playing," rookie outfielder Chris Young said. "So no doubt it was a successful year. There's nothing to hang our heads about. We lost tonight and we lost the series, but overall it was an amazing year."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.