World Series Game 5: Not Now, Snakes

Stop right there. I mean you, everyone who thought "Bill Buckner" the moment Diamondbacks center fielder Alek Thomas over-ran Jonah Heim's top of the ninth RBI single into an extra Rangers run, two outs before Marcus Semien slammed an exclamation point down upon the season and the Diamondbacks' fate.

For one thing, the Diamondbacks still had three outs to play with coming at the plate. For another thing, these Snakes were that resilient bunch who usually found ways to overcome when absolutely necessary, no?

Not this time. Just as they couldn't quite close a Game 4 blowout into a possible tie and overthrow, they couldn't turn a near-eleventh hour Game 5 deficit into another tie or overthrow. It hurt even more losing the World Series with a three-sweep at home after splitting the first pair in Arlington.

At last, as Semien's 2-run homer off Diamondbacks finisher Paul Sewald disappeared over the left center field fence in the top of the ninth, that Diamondbacks resiliency failed them even as the Rangers' equal resiliency hurtled them to the Promised Land in five arduous World Series games.

"I definitely could have done a better job of getting in front of the [Heim] and calming down and just fielding it," Thomas said postgame, refusing to shrink away, "but I think I rushed it and just didn't get the glove down. I think I made an error on that two times last year and this year, and I think by now I should learn my lesson on how to go about that ball. But definitely gonna work on that in the offseason, make sure that doesn't happen again."

Long before Thomas had his moment of ill fate, the Diamondbacks failed to rise to several occasions. Their gallant starting pitcher Zac Gallen took a no-hitter through six innings while his Rangers counterpart Nathan Eovaldi pitched into and out of heavy traffic yet refused to surrender so much as a single run.

They loaded the bases on Eovaldi in the first and the fifth and left them that way. They had to know Eovaldi didn't have his best stuff to throw and couldn't do more than 4 hits, despite also drawing 5 walks on the veteran right-hander.

Then the most they could do against the Ranger bullpen was a seventh-inning walk, an eighth-inning base hit, and nothing else to show for it while that pen struck them out five times, including Ketel Marte looking at strike three from Josh Sborz to end Game 5 and the Series whole.

"To get a taste of postseason baseball and the World Series," said veteran Snakes designated hitter Tommy Pham, "if this doesn't motivate you, I don't know what will. This is a young team. There's a core you can build around. And now everybody knows what it takes to get here."

Pham surely didn't mean backing into the postseason in the first place, as the Diamondbacks did claiming a wild card slot after finishing well back of the National League West-owning Dodgers on the regular season. Once they got there, though, they swept two division winners (the Brewers, the Dodgers) out of the wild card and division series rounds, then fought the Phillies to a seven-game National League Championship Series conquest.

Then they ran into the Rangers. Except for their 9-1 Game 2 win, for the Diamondbacks this was like running into a pack of snake hunters unwilling to show much in the way of mercy. Even when they fought back from a 10-1 blowout in the making to make it 11-7 in Game 3, the Rangers were too much for the Diamondbacks to handle.

These Snakes didn't have the star power of their 2001 World Series-winning predecessors. They kind of liked it that way, too. "I felt like we're definitely a bunch of misfits," said relief pitcher Ryan Thompson after Game 5 ended.

"That's what makes us special. We got a bunch of young guys who are hungry, doing it for the first time. We got a bunch of veterans who have been there, done that, but not quite won the whole thing. It's awesome being able to put our names on the map."

Gangs of misfits have won World Series in the past, with or without star power. The 1934 Cardinals, that shameless brawling Gas House Gang, was one. The Bronx Zoo Yankees of 1977-78 were another. The 2004 Red Sox called themselves the Idiots as though it were a badge of high honor. The 2010 Giants — managed by now-triumphant Rangers manager Bruce Bochy — thought of themselves as a bunch of morons.

What these Diamondbacks had was future star power. Corbin Carroll, Gabriel Moreno, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Thomas himself. You could say it wasn't their fault the Rangers hunted, pecked, pounded, pricked, and pulverised them. But you'd also have to say these Diamondbacks made enough of their own mistakes to enable that Ranger romp, too.

You credit the Rangers for such seizures. But you hand it to the Diamondbacks for making a showing for themselves before the World Series arrived. In a sane world, ruled by a sane commissioner and group of owners, they wouldn't have reached the postseason in the first place.

But under the way things are set now, the Diamondbacks made the most of their entry. They left the Brewers looking brewed to a fare-thee-well. They left the Dodgers to a winter of self-re-examination. Then they ran into a Texas chainsaw massacre, more or less. There was no shame in that.

Oh, sure, they looked foolish a few times. Especially when manager Torey Lovullo talked early in the postseason about all those "receipts" the Diamondbacks kept to stick right back up the rears of those who doubted, the cynics who figured they were due for an early and painful postseason exit, the snorters who figured the big bad Phillies would make rattlesnake stew out of them.

They outlasted the Phillies. It wasn't really easy to do. But the Rangers were another proposition entirely. The Diamondbacks really didn't stand much of a chance no matter how bravely they hung in for five games, no matter that this Series matched two of baseball's best defensive teams on the season.

The Rangers were only too happy to stuff those Diamondbacks receipts right back where they came from. But the Diamondbacks have no reason for shame otherwise.

"I'm so proud of what they've done," Lovullo said. "And we have to step back for a minute and tell ourselves that we've done a lot of really amazing things this year. And then we got on this really fun ride through the course of the postseason. You just never want it to stop."

But that's the problem. They can never rescind the rule that somebody has to lose games. The good news further is that the Diamondbacks are a comparatively young franchise and lack the kind of snake-bitten history that once plagued such antiquities as the Cubs, the Red Sox, and even the 63-year-old Rangers.

Barring unforeseen calamity or brain damage, they'll be back soon enough. For now, let them mourn lost opportunity while celebrating how they got to have the chance in the first place.

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