Rockies' relief corps soars, then slips
'Pen pitches scoreless eighth, but Street falters in ninth
DENVER -- The blame was laid at the feet of the closer on Monday, which fair or unfair, is essentially how the drill goes when you're in such a high leverage situation, under the watchful eyes of so many with so much on the line.
"It's kind of a thankless job," Colorado reliever Joe Beimel said. "You're expected to do your job every day but when you don't, it's so glaringly obvious to everyone.
"It's just part of the job. In that role, it's all about how you bounce back. Unfortunately ... we don't have any games left to bounce back for."
The Rockies got alternatively good and bad performances from a bullpen that got plenty of work in the four games of the National League Division Series that ended with the Phillies scoring three runs in the ninth inning for a series-clinching 5-4 victory at Coors Field on Monday.
|Gm. 1||PHI 5, COL 1||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||COL 5, PHI 4||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||PHI 6, COL 5||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 4||PHI 5, COL 4||Wrap||Video|
Huston Street, so good, so productive in his role as closer for the Rockies, allowed three runs in the ninth inning right after Colorado had victimized the Philadelphia bullpen. The key blow was a game-tying, two-run double by Ryan Howard with two outs.
Jayson Werth then singled in the go-ahead run as the Phillies advanced to an NL Championship Series date Thursday with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I've seen it ... God, it didn't feel good," said Street, who in the immediate aftermath watched video of the ninth inning. "The pitch to Howard, was it a good pitch? No, it wasn't my best pitch. It wasn't at the knees, painted, but it was down and it was out. He's a good hitter."
Howard said, "I hoped that he would make a mistake and leave something up over the middle, and just try to drive it and get a double."
Said Street: "I take full responsibility for there not being a Game 5 and not keeping us alive, not giving the guys a chance. We obviously proved throughout the season that we had a chance."
For the Rockies, as Beimel pointed out, there are no games left to bounce back, just more or less an empty feeling, a longing of what nearly was Monday.
ONE TAXED BULLPEN
"I kept thinking I was one good pitch away from getting out of it ... that's what I kept on telling myself," said Street, standing in front of his locker and answering questions.
"It's a massive disappointment."
Colorado manager Jim Tracy leaned on his bullpen in the series, as Ubaldo Jimenez, the starter on Monday, was the only starting pitcher in the four games to last past the fifth inning. Jimenez allowed two runs in seven innings, giving the Rockies a chance.
As Tracy said before the start of Game 4, "The leash, so to speak, it's short," pointing to the shorter amount of rope he was willing to, able to, give his starting pitchers in such a critical series with so much on the line.
The game Monday, in a sense, was essentially a microcosm of the series for the Rockies bullpen. After Jimenez left, Tracy went to hard-throwing left-hander Franklin Morales, who got one out and walked three in the eighth inning.
Rafael Betancourt, who struck out three in a scoreless inning in Game 3, entered on Monday and got Pedro Feliz to pop up to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on the first pitch and then got Carlos Ruiz to ground out to Tulowitzki to end the inning.
The Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 4-2 lead before handing the ball over to Street, who had 35 saves in the regular season in 37 opportunities.
Street struck out pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs to start the inning, before allowing a single to Jimmy Rollins. Rollins advanced to second base when Shane Victorino reached on a fielder's choice. Two outs, one runner on and a two-run lead.
It seemed safe enough.
Chase Utley then worked a walk, laying off several close pitches during a six-pitch at-bat, giving Howard a chance. Street went after Howard with four, four-seam fastballs, he took two for balls and fouled off another before one-hopping a ball off the right-field wall that scored Victorino and Utley to tie the game.
Werth followed with an RBI single to center field on a slider and the Phillies had the lead once again.
"He's a good hitter," Street said of Werth. "I probably could have located the pitch better.
"In the playoffs, it's all about execution."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.