'Pen can't hold off D-backs in opener
Hawkins surrenders lead in eighth inning as Colorado falls
DENVER -- Relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins sat in the corner of the team's quiet clubhouse on Monday afternoon.
Hawkins gave up three eighth-inning runs, two on Eric Byrnes' eighth-inning single, as the Diamondbacks won the season opener, 8-6, in front of a Coors Field sellout crowd of 48,169.
Hawkins, who has spent much of his career handling the swings of fortune and moods that come with relief work, most likely will be pitching next time the Rockies are holding a narrow lead in the eighth.
"I thought about it a little bit, but now I'm playing PSP, shooting games, so I'm taking out some aggression," Hawkins said.
Forgive Hawkins, signed this offseason for one year and $3.5 million to handle such important innings, for wanting to let off some steam. But overall, as manager Clint Hurdle noted, the Rockies want to take the performance in stride.
"There were good things went on today," Hurdle said. "The last two seasons, we had walk-off wins and we were 1-0. We all know how those seasons ended. Maybe we'll draw it up a little differently this year."
The Rockies posted five runs and knocked eight hits in five innings against 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb. Brad Hawpe's three hits included a two-run single off Webb in the first inning.
"To get that many runs off Webb in five innings, we'd have taken that," Hawpe said.
First baseman Todd Helton said, "For young guys and, well, for anybody, it's always important to go out and feel comfortable at the plate, get your confidence up."
Also, rookie catcher Chris Iannetta knocked a two-run single off Webb, rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki singled and doubled. The two combined to pick Chris Snyder off second to end a potential rally in the fifth.
Right-hander Aaron Cook, yielding five runs on eight mostly soft hits in six innings, battled without his best stuff. But Cook left the game in position to win, courtesy of Jeff Baker's seventh-inning leadoff home run off Brandon Medders, which made it 6-5.
But the Rockies left 10 on base and went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. New leadoff man Willy Taveras walked in his first at-bat but struck out his next four. Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday, who had breakout performances in 2006, went a combined 0-for-10, and Holliday fanned three times.
"I'll have to look at the tape," Hurdle said. "I think some good pitches were made. It is what it is. I'm not going to make any more out of it."
Still, the Rockies had chances late against the bullpen. With two on and two out in the eighth, Atkins lined a Brandon Lyon pitch hard to left to end the threat. Helton doubled off Jose Valverde to lead off the ninth, but Valverde fanned Holliday, Hawpe and Tulowitzki.
Hawkins gave up singles to Chris Young and Alberto Callaspo to put runners at the corners to open the ninth. Callaspo's was a potential double-play grounder, but it bounced just past a drawn-in Atkins at third. "Nothing I can do about that -- it wasn't meant to be," Hawkins said.
Tony Clark flied out, but Callaspo took second on a Holliday throwing error.
Hawkins intentionally walked Stephen Drew before the hit by Byrnes, who was with the Rockies briefly in 2005 after a trade from the Athletics, but was traded to the Orioles. The hit made a winner of Juan Cruz (1-0), who struck out Tulowitzki to end the seventh.
"They traded for me, I came over here, I was excited to be here, I was excited to be a Rockie," Byrnes said. "I wanted to stay here for years. I bonded with the guys real well, I thought I got along great with Clint Hurdle, I think he's an awesome manager. But for whatever reason, I was gone two weeks later. "
Byrnes might not have had a chance for his revenge had Hawkins stuck with his slider, a pitch Byrnes didn't recall seeing from him before.
"Everybody said I should have gone to the slider, but I was trying to get that fastball away, then go back to the slider," said Hawkins, who gave up the other run on an Orlando Hudson sacrifice fly. "But it didn't work out.
"I'll come back and get them tomorrow."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.