DENVER The Colorado Rockies played their best baseball this season when it was do-or-die.
Not on this night.
Needing to recapture some of the wizardry that got them here, Todd Helton and the Rockies bowed out of October with a whimper, losing 4-3 Sunday night to the Red Sox, who swept their second World Series in four years. Garrett Atkins gave Colorado hope with a two-run homer in the eighth inning that made it a one-run game, but like every other rally the Rockies managed in this Series, it was just a tease.
Bullied by Boston, Colorado was outscored 29-10 by the Red Sox, who made them look nothing like the team that won an incredible 21 of 22 just to get here.
The clutch hits, all gone.
The ball bashers, nowhere in sight.
The potent pen, not so powerful.
The proper managerial moves, not there.
The starting pitching, a joke until Aaron Cook's valiant effort fell short Sunday night. MVP hopeful Matt Holliday and his teammates have insisted all Series they have nothing to hang their heads about, and they're right.
They were simply in over their heads. They've also steadfastly refused to use rust as an excuse, but the fact is they endured an eight-day wait for the World Series. By sweeping Arizona in the NL bracket, they were too good for their own good.
For more than a week they went through the motions, took tons of batting practice and did spring training-like drills while enduring the longest layover since the 1910 Philadelphia Athletics waited around 10 days.
Only Helton dared mention that it might hurt the Rockies, suggesting, "We'll find out, right?"
What they discovered they didn't like.
Against Boston, the Rockies looked more like the fourth-place team they were in mid-September, not the one that swept its first seven postseason games just like the 1976 Cincinnati Reds of Big Red Machine fame. These guys were in a Purple Haze against big, bad Boston.
Colorado's only constant throughout the postseason was its stellar defense which is supposed to win championships, remember?
When David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon are on the other side, all that great glove work can go to waste.
The Rockies led the NL in batting and had the league's best after the All-Star break. You never would have known it watching the lopsided games in Boston and Denver.
The only big bat that came through was Holliday's. He had four of the team's five hits in Game 2 and his three-run homer in Game 3 made it interesting until Brian Fuentes gave the runs right back.
But Holliday went 0-for-4 Sunday night and the Rockies ended the Series with a .223 average.
Ace Jeff Francis, who would have pitched Game 5, said it certainly wasn't nerves that did in the Rockies, who remained upbeat in the clubhouse before the game Sunday.
"I think the guys who are winning in fantasy football are probably more excited than the guys who are losing," he said.
Perfect, Denver can go back to being a football town again.
There will be no World Series to worry about Monday night when the Broncos face the Green Bay Packers down the road at Invesco Field.
Brett Favre and Champ Bailey get the Mile High City all to themselves.