MLB 2K13 proudly announces the return of the Perfect Game Challenge. Pitch a perfect game for your favorite team and you could win some serious money, including a top prize of $250,000. Go to facebook.com/mlb2k for details.
After an equalizing Matt Holliday RBI single in the fifth, the little known Seth Smith became a legend in the sixth by launching a deep fly ball as a pinch hitter that was badly misplayed into a triple by Brady Clark, Mike Cameron's replacement. As you may recall, Cameron had been injured only a week before. Of course, Cameron would have snagged the ball, and he might have also thrown out Smith trying to tag up on Kaz Matsui's sac fly. As it was, Clark's throw was badly off line and Smith's run had the Rockies in the lead again, 6-5.
It was at exactly the point when my friend starting looking at buying playoff tickets online when the Garrett Atkins one out "double" happened in the bottom of the seventh. While it was obvious to pretty much everyone that the Rockies had gotten jobbed of a valuable insurance run, instant replay was 10 months away from implementation. I'm not bitter though...if that home run stands, then we don't have the Slide. In any case, the Rockies were unable to tack on that insurance run.
In the next half inning, Matt Holliday pulled a Brady Clark and misplayed a Brian Giles two-out fly ball into a double to allow the tying run to score. At this point, I got a sinking feeling that, despite the remarkable confluence of events that had led to this very moment, the Rockies were going to lose this game.
This sinking feeling only strengthened as the Rockies produced exactly nothing on offense for the next five innings, making the Padres' relievers look like Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson at the same time. Meanwhile, the Rockies relievers looked as if they were barely surviving. Several people left the party because they couldn't even bear to watch the futility being displayed by the Rockies. They could feel it too.
Then Clint Hurdle brought in Jorge Julio in the top of the 13th, much to the dismay of everyone at the party, and from the noise, at Coors Field too. While Julio could be a great weapon when he was on, he hadn't been on for quite some time--and couldn't locate any of his pitches properly. After a lead-off walk to Brian Giles, the dagger went right through my heart with the homer by Scott Hairston. Poor Jorge was showered with abuse as it seemed the Rockies' season had just gone down the tubes. He gave up the single to Chase Headley, and with that, the rout seemed to be on.
But in came Ramon Ortiz (Ramon Ortiz!), the very definition of a scrap heap pitcher. And wonder of all wonders, there was no further damage by the Padres. This was of no consolation to me, of course. The Rockies had blown their only chance--after all, they had looked pathetic batting in the last few innings, and they had to score at least two times just to keep their season alive against the legendary Trevor Hoffman.
The Rockies had had their moments against Hoffman, particularly in the 2005 opener with Clint Barmes' walkoff, but I thought they were dead in this situation. I was only watching due to morbid fascination with the end of such a roller coaster of a season. Colorado's odds of winning entering the bottom of the 13th were just 10%.
I'd like to think that with my reverse-psychology negative thoughts that I brought the Rockies into the postseason. I just knew that Matsui would strike out...and then he legged out a double. And then Troy Tulowitzki hit a drive down the right field line...just foul. I once again felt the air go out of the very tense room. Then Tulo straightened out his drive and brought in Matsui, with should-have-been MVP Holliday coming up. Matt sure sucked most of the drama out of the situation with a first pitch triple, tying the game. The Rockies had not only tied the game with no outs, but they had the winning run just 90 feet away.
The apartment was going crazy--I embraced several complete strangers, and was embraced back. Helton was intentionally walked, and then defensive replacement Jamey Carroll lined a shot to right. At first, I thought it was a hit...but Giles had been playing in. I held my breath--it was really pretty shallow, would 3rd base coach Mike Gallego send Holliday?
That was all the time I had to think before I saw Giles uncork his throw, Holliday barreling toward home (no base coach was going to stop Matt in this moment), and catcher Michael Barrett blocking the plate. Then the Slide...and the safe signal by Tim McClelland. Bedlam. Pandemonium. I was hoarse for three days afterwards. I could hardly sleep that night. What a perfect game!
Did Holliday ever touch home plate? I'd like to think he did. Does it matter? That was the best game I've ever watched in my life, and the fact that my team won was an incredible added bonus. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I will never forget Rocktober (and especially that night) for as long as I live - and I know that many of you feel the same way.