Street Suffers A Bitter Loss
Rockies closerwas standing at his locker, being very forthright about a very painful ninth inning Monday. General manager Dan O’Dowd interrupted the give-and-take, hugged Street and said, “We wouldn’t have been here without you. You did a hell of a job.”
The Rockies and, in particular, Street weren’t expecting words of solace. Not after a stunning three-run rally in the eighth gave the Rockies a 4-2 lead in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. Not with Street, who went 35-for-37 in save opportunities during the regular season, taking the mound and this NLDS seemingly headed back to Citizens Bank Park for a winner-take-all fifth game.
Deflating ninth innings were rare for the Rockies this year, the kind where the game disintegrates into a shambles and certain victory is replaced by bitter heartbreak. That anguish has hovered over the Phillies, whether it’s Brad Lidge blowing 11 saves en route to a 7.21 ERA this year after his season of perfection in 2008 or Mitch Williams following a thrill-a-minute path, sometimes to a save and sometimes not.
The Rockies went 45-0 at home during the 2009 regular season when leading after eight innings. They had parlayed an Edwin Moses leap byover the left shoulder of second baseman Chase Utley into a three-run rally that included a game-tying single by pinch-hitter and a two-run double by Yorvit Torrealba before turning the game over to Street.
“You think you have the game in your hands, and they drop three on you,” saidwho struck out on five pitches from Lidge, all sliders, to end the game with runners at first and second. “But we had an opportunity at the end; that’s all you can ask for. But it does make it a little tougher.”
Street’s ordeal began with one out, when Jimmy Rollins reached on an infield single. Shane Victorino hit into a fielder’s choice, took second on defensive indifference and Street went to 3-2 on Utley before throwing a changeup that missed for ball four.
“I’d thrown him all fastballs,” Street said. “So I thought a change of pace was in order. I’ve been controlling my changeup so well all day that it really felt like a good pitch to go with. I had a base open. Utley’s a guy you respect up there and (Ryan) Howard on deck _ pick your poison, really.”
Howard yanked a 2-1 pitch to right field for a two-run double and Jayson Werth followed with a single that gave the Phillies their 5-4 victory margin and finished Street.
“It didn’t happen tonight, and it’s obviously disappointing,” Street said. “I can’t really even put it into words what I feel right now.”
Street said falling behind Howard didn’t help and threw him the fourth fastball in a row on the pitch Howard hit for a double.
“Did I make the best pitch I could make? No,” Street said. “Was it a bad pitch? No…They’re a good team. We’re a good team. I think that’s what makes this hurt so much is the expectations we did have for ourselves and for me personally. You obviously felt like it was right there. You felt like you let the boys down.”
As Street spoke, pitcher Jason Marquis was packing a box a locker away. He can be a free agent and likely will not be resigned by the Rockies, a first-time All-Star who faltered again in the second half and ended up pitching one inning in relief in Game 1.
Street will be back, perhaps with a multi-year contract that could head off free agency after the 2010 season.
Street, 26, has 129 career saves and a bright future, most likely for years to come with the Rockies. The future was a dot on the horizon for Street, something fuzzy and vague simply because of the pall of the present.
“We stood toe-to-toe with the defending world champions,” he said. “It didn’t happen for a number of reasons. I take full responsibility for there not being a Game 5 and not keeping us alive, not giving the guys a chance.”
Before Street stood and faced the assembled media members at his locker, fellow relievercame over to Street, who was still seated, tousled Street’s hair and gave him a hug. Daley was one of many teammates, who tried to comfort Street.
“It all helps and none of it helps,” Street said. “You have to deal with it in your own way…I wish it wasn’t me. I wish it was one of them on the other side. I guess if there’s anything, I’d rather what happened tonight happen to me because I know I can handle it.”