They say that in baseball, everybody wins a third of their games, everybody loses a third of their games, and it's what happens in that other third the determines whether you're a good or a bad team. Other than a few exceptions like the '62 Mets and the '03 Tigers on the low end, and the '98 Yankees and the '01 Mariners on the high end, this old saying tends to hold true every year for every team.
This is different than other sports, because baseball has nights like the Rockies had Thursday evening. Here, a ragtag group of underdog stories came together to beat a team that on paper, should have pulled off the sweep with a pair of games already in the bag. Here's a look at some of the biggest contributors:
This was the longest start of Flande's career. The lefty made it through seven innings of work and nearly held the Nationals scoreless before allowing a mammoth two run shot to Michael Taylor seven outs away from the shutout. Despite the seventh inning home run, this still marked the second time this month he out-pitched Max Scherzer. Baseball is weird.
In addition to his work on the mound, Flande was also involved in both offensive rallies. In the fifth, he led off the inning with a single and came around to score the game's first run, and in the sixth, he had another hit that produced an RBI. What a night!
Another feel good story. After six years in the Rockies farm system, Garneau made his major league debut and didn't take long to get his first hit out of the way. In the second inning, he lined a two-out double to left off a former Cy Young winner.
That was impressive, but it was his work behind that plate that probably deserves the most attention. He called an excellent game and never looked overwhelmed. If you didn't know any better, you might have thought there was a major league veteran behind the plate.
I'm not a fan of Axford back in the closer's role, but I was happy to see a good guy get the save in a game like this. It wasn't easy as he allowed a leadoff single to Bryce Harper and later walked Ryan Zimmerman to put the winning run on base, but he also managed to strike out the other three batters he faced which nailed down the game. It took 26 pitches and a whole lot of "hold your breath," but in this case, all's well that ends well.
Paulsen had just one hit, but it came at the perfect moment. Right after Michael Taylor tied the game in the top of the seventh, the Rockies responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. It was Paulsen's one-out single that did the damage, and it came right after a Nolan Arenado strike out that for a moment made it look like the Nationals were going to get out of the jam. Paulsen made sure that didn't happen.
After a very rough start to his Rockies career (.512 OPS in his first 16 games), Reyes has now put together two good games in three nights. In this one he had three hits, scored a run, and produced an early RBI.
It's gotta be tough for Reyes going from a contending team to this pit of awful while being the guy tasked with replacing an irreplaceable local legend. I don't envy him for a second. Knowing this, it was nice to see him have a good night.
The last piece left from the Ubaldo Jimenez trade led off the sixth inning with a single and came around to score the game's second run.
Before John Axford closed out the game and after Yohan Flande tossed seven solid innings, Scott Oberg ended a rather dubious Rockies streak. When he took the mound for the eighth, the last seven consecutive Rockies relievers to enter a game had given up at least one run. Oberg was handed a one run lead, so the there was no margin for error, and he executed with a clean one-two-three inning that finally stopped the madness.
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All the Rockies listed here are unlikely to have a major roll on the next Colorado contending team. For the most part, they're just here filling out the current 25-man roster while the club tries to find itself and reorganize. This wasn't a Jon Gray type of performance where you felt like you were getting a glimpse into the future. This was simply a fun baseball moment where a bunch of good guys who work hard and are generally under-appreciated got to shine. Every once in a while, baseball will throw you a bone like this, and it's fun to see.
This group of guys all played an important part in stopping the Nationals from coming into Coors and earning a sweep that they desperately needed after underachieving all season. With a Scherzer vs. Flande pitching matchup, a ninth loss in ten games seemed likely, but these guys came together and didn't let that happen. If only for one night, they should be proud of their performance.