The last time the Colorado Rockies visited the Houston Astros, history was in the making. Astros second baseman Craig Biggio reached the historic milestone of 3,000 hits. The Rockies were three months away from making a historic run to the National League pennant.
Now Biggio is retired, and the Rockies’ National League Championship season is history. Chris Sampson and the Astros are glad their most recent game is history, as they fell 11-5 to the defending National League Champions.
The Rockies played their game against the Astros less than 20 hours after they completed a 22-inning game with the San Diego Padres. The Rockies arrived in Houston at 8:30 am after their game ended at 3:30 am CST.
Starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki got a few hours of sleep when the Rockies arrived at the hotel and told ESPN that is all he needed.
"Honestly, once the adrenaline got going, once the game started, I felt fine," Tulowitzki said. "I didn't know what to expect. Obviously, we're all pretty tired and we're still trying to get our legs under us. But the guys did a good job today."
The Astros were the sluggish team. After a four-run first, Houston only managed three hits. Astros manager Cecil Cooper told ESPN that the offense did not produce much after the first.
"We went pretty quiet after the first inning," said Houston manager Cecil Cooper. "We just didn't put anything together after that."
It did not take long for the Rockies' offense to take out Sampson, who did not get past the first inning. Tulowitzki doubled to deep left, scoring Scott Podsednik and Willy Taveras.
Baker drove in Ryan Spilborghs and Tulowitzki to increase the lead to 4-0. Chris Iannetta doubled to deep left-center and jeff Baker and Clint Barmes scored. After that, Frank Morales grounded out and Podsednik’s second appearance resulted in a walk, Sampson was done.
In just two-thirds of an inning, Sampson (0-2) allowed six hits, six runs, walked two and struck out one. Cooper said to ESPN that his starter was not able to locate his pitches.
"He just couldn't keep the ball down. He was just up in the zone," Cooper said of Sampson. "That first inning, he only made three quality pitches and they all came to one guy, (Garrett) Atkins."
The Astros hit Morales hard in their half of the first. Lance Berkman doubled to deep left, and Michael Bourn scored. Kazuo Matsui made his debut this season after sitting out with an anal fissure and scored when Carlos Lee grounded out.
Hunter Pence drove in Berkman with a double to right. J.R. Towles drove in Pence with a single to make it 6-4.
Morales (1-1) pitched five innings and gave up five hits, four runs, four walks, and struck out two.
The Rockies did not allow the game to get any closer. They scored three runs in the fourth and Atkins homered in the eighth to drive in two. Tulowitzki was the Rockies hitting star going 2-for-5, with two doubles and three runs batted in.
What made the Rockies run production more impressive was the fact that Todd Helton, Matt Holliday and Yorvit Torrealba did not play since they played the whole 22-inning game. Colorado manager Clint Hurdle told ESPN they needed the rest.
"The guys who were tired didn't play," Hurdle said. "It was good to give the guys time down."
Pence, who entered the game with a .161 batting average, was 3-for-4 for Houston and drove in one run. The Astros right fielder told ESPN that he was glad to have a good performance but wants the team to win.
"It was a good thing for me to finally feel comfortable in the box," Pence said. "That should help me get going now. But for the team, we've got to get some wins. Hopefully, I can start contributing."
The Astros (6-11) will face the Rockies (8-8) again Saturday at 6:05 pm CST. Wandy Rodriguez (1-0) will start for the Astros against the Rockies’ Aaron Cook (1-1). Cook was the pitcher who gave up Biggio’s 3,000th hit last season.