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Rockies 5, Giants 4: Nolan Arenado walks off the Giants and helps reignite a rivalry

WAHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! That was awesome!!!

Justin Edmonds

With the Rockies just one strike away from defeat, Nolan Arenado laced a line drive double off the the top of the left field wall that scored both Troy Tulowitzki from third and Carlos Gonzalez from first and turned what looked like a 4-3 Giants victory into a 5-4 Colorado walk off win that concluded in the most glorious of fashion since the SpillySlam game in August of 2009.

It was a typical Giants vs. Rockies roller coaster ride; packed with wild and unexpected twists and turns - Far too many to fully cover in a game wrap. The only way to truly appreciate all this masterpiece had to offer was to watch the game from start to finish.  In all, 14 different plays in this game had a WPA value of at least 10%, which is absurd. By comparison, Sunday's walk off against the Padres in ten innings, which was also a wild game, had only half as many plays.

* * * * *

For the second time in 2014, the Rockies sent Franklin Morales to the mound to face Madison Bumgarner, and for the second time, they emerged victorious. Both pitchers went six innings, both pitchers struck out six, and both pitchers walked only one hitter, but it was Morales who did a much better job of limiting traffic for most of the evening. The shortest explanation for San Francisco's lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning was their 2-4 effort with runners in scoring position compared to the Rockies 1-11 showing prior to Arenado's game winner.

As usual, every San Francisco run came in highly annoying fashion. The first pair were plated in the fifth during a sequence that heated up after Tyler Colvin doubled on a ball down the left field line that was originally called foul before replay placed runners at second and third with one out. After getting Bumgarner to strike out for the second out of the inning, Morales got ahead of Gregor Blanco, who was 1-30 on the road for the season to the point 1-2. Blanco then lined the next next pitch into the opposite field gap for a triple to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. They then immediately added another run on an infield chopper hit from Hunter Pence, and all this came in an inning right after the Rockies scored a run to get ahead 1-0.

As if that wasn't enough, Colvin would bite the Rockies again in the ninth inning with what looked to be a game winning RBI double down the left field line (no replay need this time) that scored Brandon Hicks from first base on a 2-2 pitch and put the Giants on top 4-3. Colvin, who played in 27 games for the Rockies in 2013 and posted a .472 OPS with a grand total three extra base hits and a bad attitude to boot has already notched eight extra base hits in six starts with the Giants this season. That's obnoxious!

Unfortunately, the Rockies also have a just as frustrating and much more pressing issue to think about as this is the second time in as many games that we've seen LaTroy Hawkins serve up what could have been a very costly extra base hit to a lefty in the ninth inning while Boon Logan, the $16.5 Million lefty acquisition from the off season, sat in the bullpen. This hasn't burned Walt Weiss yet as the prolific offense has bailed him and Hawkins out twice, but it's absolutely a problem that may need to be addressed going forward.

* * * * *

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Madison Bumgarner, who displayed excellent command of the strike zone all night (he threw 71% of his pitches in the black) plunked Troy Tulowitzki with an 87 MPH slider. Now it's worth noting that almost one year ago to the day in this game, Tulo caught Bumgarner placing some sort of foreign substance on the baseball and asked for that ball to be removed from the game. You can see a couple of pictures here and here. Following that incident, Bumgarner posted a 6.14 ERA over his next five starts before righting the ship later in the season.

Maybe he was doctoring the baseball, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he intentionally hit Tulo tonight, maybe he didn't. I have no idea either way. All I do know is that there's a history between these players, and where there's smoke, there's usually fire.

With two out and nobody on in the seventh inning, Rex Brothers then hit Madison Bumgarner with an 0-2 pitch. Maybe it was in retaliation, maybe it wasn't. All we know for sure is that Bumgarner exchanged some very naughty words with the Rockies dugout on his way down to first base.

It certainly feels like there's some bad blood brewing here, and if I had to guess, I don't think we've seen the last of this story.

* * * * *

Wilin Rosario had an easy to forget about big night at the plate. He got the scoring started in the fourth with a two out RBI double that scored Tulo from second and then blasted a mammoth home run to deep left field in the sixth to tie the game at three. It's Rosario's fourth long ball of the season and third against the hated Giants.

* * * * *

This game wasn't about the middle innings though, it was about the bottom of the ninth. Justin Morneau, who blasted the walk off home run to deep center in Sunday's game against the Padres, played the under the radar role and drew a lead off walk against Giants closer Sergio Romo - It always seems to start with a walk.

However, the rally then sputtered as Michael Cuddyer flew out to deep right for the first out of the inning and Tulo grounded out on a bat shattering slider for the second. Both hitters correctly attempted to use the opposite field, but Cuddyer's ball came up just short of the wall and Tulo's shattered bat prevented his ball from leaving the infield.

This set the stage for Carlos Gonzalez, who hit a soft liner just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Brandon Crawford and into shallow right center field to put runners on the corners.

Now it was Areando's turn. He quickly fell behind 1-2, but got a very hittable hanging slider on the fourth pitch which he missed squaring up and fouled back. It seemed like an opportunity missed, as he probably wouldn't get another pitch to hit that good to hit again. However, just two pitches later, Romo hung a second slider; and for the second time in the at bat, Arenado failed to square it up and fouled the pitch back.

Romo was now playing with fire. With a ball to spare in a 2-2 count and "Captain swing and miss at off speed pitches out of the zone" on deck in Wilin Rosario, I was sure Romo wasn't going to let Arenado see another pitch in the zone during this at bat. But to my amazement, Romo hung a third slider on the very next pitch, and this time, Arenado didn't miss it.

The ball wasn't going to be foul, and it wasn't going to be caught. The only question was whether it was going to clear the wall or not and give the Rockies a 5-4 or 6-4 victory.

It didn't, but it didn't matter.


Rockies win 5-4!

* * * * *

It's the tenth time in the last eleven games these teams have played where the margin has either come down to just a single run or the game went to extra innings.

The Giants may own the Rockies in AT&T Park, but as tonight and the 10-3 record in their last 13 games against the San Francisco at Coors proves, the Rockies are not easy to beat atop the mountain.

Now it's time to look at this beautiful graph and join the party in the comments section:

Source: FanGraphs

Record: 26-20

Games behind: 2.0

Games left: 116

Total comments: 895

Total commenters: 42

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