Colorado Rockies’ Ryan Spilborghs sprinted around the bases as his teammates began surrounding home plate. It was a game-winning grand slam, smoked to the opposite field. Pandemonium ensued: The crowd went ballistic, while Spilborghs’ teammates jumped for joy on their way to greet him. It was just another magical win in a season full of them for Colorado.
In his second inning of work, Rockies reliever Adam Eaton allowed three runs, two scoring on a triple by San Francisco Giants’ Eugenio Velez.
With Colorado’s bench empty and with no one left in their bullpen, Eaton was forced to hit for himself in the bottom of the frame, with the bases loaded no less. He had 340 at-bats under his belt entering this pivotal one, and, for a pitcher, did quite well for himself, with three homers and twenty-six rbi’s to his name. So, his chances were increased because of this past success, and were increased even more with flustered Giants reliever Justin Miller on the mound.
Eaton, with a borrowed bat resting awkwardly on his shoulders, kept it there as Miller missed badly for ball one, then ball two, then ball three. After a called strike, Eaton took ball four, and trotted down to first base while Dexter Fowler, who was hit to begin the frame, trotted home. Even an optimist would have given him little chance of doing anything successful, but for a Rockies team that has been one of the best in baseball since Jim Tracy took over as manager on May 29th, his walk, or anything positive for that matter, was expected.
Miller was replaced by Merkin Valdez to face Spilborghs. Colorado’s right-fielder smashed his second pitch and second fastball, and, just like that, the Rockies were celebrating once again.
Colorado was in the National League West’s cellar on May 29th with a 19-28 record. Then Clint Hurdle, who had led the franchise to the World Series in 2007, was fired. Since that time, with Tracy at the helm, Colorado is a remarkable 52-26. When their pitchers have struggled, they have won the slugfests, and when they haven’t, they have won the close games. Thanks to Spilborghs, they took three of four games from the Giants to increase their Wild Card lead over their division foe to four games. But the Wild Card is no longer what they are after.
Since July 1st, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a mediocre 24-22. Over that span, Colorado is 30-17, and has gained 5 1/2 games in the standings. Suddenly, they are only three games behind the Dodgers, and can make up the difference in their series against Los Angeles in the mile-high city, where magic happens. With any luck, the remarkable will continue, and reward the Rockies with what they deserve: a division crown, their first in franchise history.