To all those living along the banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers, you're welcome.
Not only did the Rockies beat the Cardinals tonight, but they did it in a fashion rarely seen this season. Instead of their usual tiresome act of scoring early and then sailing quietly into the night, the Rockies instead back loaded their offensive productivity and scored five of their six runs in their final two innings they batted, including hanging a four spot on the red birds in the decisive eighth inning.
The game started like so many others this season. After a Troy Tulowitzki RBI double in the opening frame that gave the Rockies first blood and an early 1-0 lead, 17 of the next 20 Colorado hitters were retired. Then in the seventh, the Rockies finally broke through. Wilin Rosario began the rally with a line drive single to center and Josh Rutledge followed with a base hit to the opposite field. Then Charlie Blackmon, who had three hits on the night and could have had four if wasn't for a diving catch in shallow center by Jon Jay, went the other way and muscled a hit over shortstop to put the Rockies ahead 2-1.
After Chad Bettis gave up a run in the top of the eighth on a two out, two strike pitch, the Rockies would turn around and hand Trevor Rosenthal the worst outing of his career. The brilliant St. Louis reliever had gone 11 straight appearances coming into tonight without giving up a run and had held opposing batters to a .278 OPS over that time. Combine that with the Rockies having the third worst OPS in all of baseball in innings seven through nine, and it seemed like the chances of Colorado scoring weren't very good.
But this is baseball, and whenever something looks really obvious on paper, reality tends to smack you in the face. Troy Tulowitzki began the inning by working a six pitch walk - It always seems to start with a walk, doesn't it? - before Michael Cuddyer struck out looking on a pitch that Mariano Rivera would be thankful to get. Then the man of the hour stepped to the plate and he didn't disappoint. In what would be his first hit at Coors Field since announcing his retirement over the weekend, Todd Helton moved Tulo to third with a base hit up the middle and set the Rockies up with a chance a chance to go back on top.
Wilin Rosario wouldn't let the opportunity go to waste either as he roped a kine drive into the left field corner to give the Rockies the lead for the third and final time of the night. A Charlie Blackmon double and Ryan Wheeler pinch his single later, and the Rockies were up 6-2 and cruising to their 42nd win of the year at 20th & Blake.
Not to be lost in this game is the pitching of Collin McHugh, Drew Pomeranz (HE'S ALIVE!!!!), and Matt Belisle (HE'S NOT DEAD!!!). McHugh was making his first start of any kind at any level since August 30th and worked his way through five innings of one run baseball. He threw just 72 pitches and 68% of them found the strike zone before he had to be removed from the game because of his pitch count not being built up yet.
Drew Pomeranz then worked a scoreless sixth that included a strikeout. Perhaps most exciting though is that Pomeranz appeared (at least to my eye) to have a slightly different delivery than he did earlier in the season that's more compact through the release point. It allowed him to touch 93 MPH accord to the gun and at the very least caught a couple of Cardinal hitters off guard. This may be a developing story over the season's final two weeks.
Matt Belisle then worked a smooth seventh on just ten pitches. It was easily his best outing of the month and it was just nice to see him take a step back towards getting on track.
Of all the nice pitching lines on the night, the guy with the worst one of all got the win in Chad Bettis. It's a nice moment for Bettis as it's the first "win" of his career, but let's get real, pitching wins are stupid. Chad should be much happier with the way he threw the ball in the three outings prior to this one.
Two pieces of bad news to report from this game were Nolan Arenado leaving after his first at bat and Wilin Rosario leaving after his go ahead hit in the eighth. Unfortunately, it looks like Nolan's thumb bruise has flared up again while Rosario left with a calf injury. Both youngsters are day to day. Aren't we all?
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Games Behind: Too many
Games Left: Not enough
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