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Rockies sweep way to World Series

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2007

DENVER -- Eric Byrnes was right: The Colorado Rockies did catch every break, did get every call, did benefit from every mistake.

In short, they did everything the Arizona Diamondbacks didnt do during a National League Championship Series that began Thursday as a competitive battle of equals but ended late last night as one of the most lopsided routs in the history of this event.

With a 6-4 victory before a delirious Coors Field crowd of 50,213, the Rockies wrapped up a four-game sweep of Byrnes and the Diamondbacks and extended their remarkable, month-long run of success for another two weeks.

We always knew we could get on a run, first baseman Todd Helton said. We just didnt know it was going to be like this.

Believe it. The World Series is coming to the Mile High City for the first time, and the eventual American League champion had better take notice. The Rockies dont look ready to roll over for anybody anytime soon.

No, this team which has gone 21-1 since Sept. 16 is flying sky-high and doesnt plan on returning to earth until it has completed its astounding journey with one more series victory against either the Boston Red Sox or the Cleveland Indians.

Its just emotional, said Helton, who in his 11th season with the franchise finally made the playoffs. You cant explain it. You cant believe what we just pulled off.

An NLCS that saw the Rockies do every little thing right and the Diamondbacks come up just short in every single category concluded last night with a flourish. Colorado seized control of the game with a six-run fourth inning, aided by first baseman Conor Jacksons fielding error and capped by series MVP Matt Hollidays three-run homer to center.

And though Arizona made things interesting late, getting a three-run homer from Chris Snyder in the eighth and bringing the tying run to the plate, Colorado clamped down and finished this off. Closer Manny Corpas escaped jams in both the eighth and ninth, and in a fitting move got Byrnes to ground out to short to end the game and set off a mad celebration in the middle of the diamond.

It seemed like it was a waiting game in the dugout: When are we going to go ahead? rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. And then the bullpen will come in and close it down. Its been that way for a few games in a row now. Its an unbelievable run.

Whatever glimmer of hope the Diamondbacks had coming into this game rested squarely on the shoulders of Micah Owings, the rookie right-hander who was being asked to keep his team alive both with his arm and his bat. The multi-talented hurler tried his best, beating out an infield single in the third and ultimately scoring on Jacksons single up the middle that gave Arizona a 1-0 lead.

Owings started out fine on the mound, opening up with three scoreless innings. But he fell into trouble in the fourth when he issued back-to-back walks and then needed to make a nifty, diving stop of Yorvit Torrealbas grounder to record the second out.

Then came the kind of moment that epitomized this series, the kind that prompted Byrnes to remark two days before that the Rockies werent outplaying the Diamondbacks but were simply catching more breaks. Pinch-hitter Seth Smith blooped a 1-2 pitch from Owings 150 feet down the left-field line, dropping it just fair and just between a trio of fielders. Two runs scored, Smith wound up on second with an unlikely double and the Rockies looked poised to pounce.

Owings, though, made the pitch that should have gotten Arizona out of the inning trailing by only a run, inducing a grounder to first by Willy Taveras. Jackson lined up to make the routine play, then watched in horror as the ball caromed off his glove for a most inopportune error.

The Diamondbacks clearly were rattled, the Rockies were rejuvenated and everyone in the ballpark knew what would happen next.

Kaz Matsui lined a single up the middle, scoring one. And then Holliday delivered the final blow, a towering, 452-foot homer to center that left Coors Field in delirium and left Jackson looking for a place to hide.

Its part of the game, Owings said. Its my job to try to pick him up right there, and I didnt get it done. Nine times out of 10 he makes that play.

As Holliday (who went 4-for-12 with two homers in the series) doffed his cap to a sellout crowd pleading for a curtain call, the outcome of this series seemed certain.

The Rockies march toward history would continue, defying explanation for those who have experienced it.

There will be time for that in the offseason, Holliday said. In the middle of it, youre focused on winning games. Obviously, in the offseason well sit back and look at it and say: Man, thats quite a run.