Who would have thought that the magical formula for the Rockies to start playing better would be to lose their best player?
That's exactly what seems to have happened, as the Rockies rallied for the first time all season, beating the Brewers 8-7 at Coors Field on Saturday night.
The Rockies were down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the 7th inning after a disastrous top of the inning spoiled an otherwise phenomenal outing by Jeff Francis. After Miguel Olivo got the Rockies within two runs with his 9th home run of the season, Seth Smith , appropriately nicknamed Mr. Late Night, stepped to the plate and delivered a huge game tying 2-run home run deep to right field.
The Rockies would claim a lead after Jason Giambi's quality at bat in the 8th inning saw score Brad Hawpe off a sacrifice fly.
With two outs, Smith struck again, looping a pitch to left field. Chris Nelson, making his Major League debut, rounded third base and never stopped. The throw from Ryan Braun in left field was right on the money, but Nelson lowered his shoulder and knocked the ball out of catcher Jonathan Lucroy's glove. The ball flew all the way towards the Rockies dugout, allowing Ian Stewart to score as well.
The game looked to be wrapped up, but Manny Corpas allowed a three run home run to Corey Hart in the 9th inning, and then a single to Prince Fielder and a double to Braun. After a failed attempt at the final out by Franklin Morales, Rafael Betancourt came in and sealed the win after a long battle with Lucroy , who fouled off eight pitches before lining out to right field.
The game was a nail biter for Rockies fans, but it gave the Rockies something that they have not seen all season.
It was the first time that they found a way to fight their way back into a game and pull out a win. In fact, this was the first game all season in which the Rockies won when trailing at any point after the 4th inning.
Saturday night was also a testament to the Rockies' depth . Jonathan Herrera, filling in at second base (as Clint Barmes is covering shortstop while Tulowitzki recovers) went 4-for-5 out of the leadoff position. Hererra's early chances have been limited to late inning pinch hits and spot starts. It is very difficult to get in the groove at the plate at the Major League level without getting consistent at bats. By starting for the second day in a row, Hererra showed that he can hit at this level.
In addition to Herrera, Nelson showed his ability. In his first Major League plate appearance, the former No.1 draft pick laid down a sacrifice bunt and landed on first base when Brewers pitcher Zach Braddock chose to try and get the lead runner at third base unsuccessfully.
Nelson showed speed and toughness when, instead of sliding into home plate, he chose to put his shoulder down and knock the ball out of the catcher's glove. Plays like that will spark a team, especially when it comes from a guy stepping onto a Major League baseball field for the first time.
Are the Rockies a better team without Troy Tulowitzki ? The answer to that question is easy. No. They are far better with Tulowitzki in the lineup. However, if there is one thing that Rockies fans have learned about their team is that when their backs are against the wall, they start fighting.
When adversity seems to smack them in the face, their character comes out and they decide that it is time to find a way to win.
This is the Rockies team everyone was expecting. A team not content with a one run lead, they pour on the runs and make it extremely difficult for the opposition to win the game. It is a team that scores eight runs in a game instead of two. If the Rockies can gain a little more momentum, the injury to Tulowitzki might not be the worst thing that ever happened.
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