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Rockies beat Giants 7-5, Nolan Arenado hits for the cycle

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The Rockies completed the four game sweep of the Giants and improve to 20 games above .500.

This is so much fun.

On a day the Rockies received a shaky start from Tyler Chatwood at home and struggled at the plate for most of the game, the Rockies took a slim lead to the ninth inning. But a tired bullpen got in the way of the victory. That just raised the stakes and made for more ninth inning drama. In the bottom of the ninth, Nolan Arenado hit a walk-off home run that completed the four-game sweep of the Giants, improved the team’s record to 20 games above .500 (46-26), kept the Rockies in sole possession of first place, and gave Arenado a cycle for the day. Here’s how it unfolded.

Chatwood got into some trouble in the first inning. He faced Buster Posey with runners on the corners and just one out. Given Chatwood’s troubles pitching at Coors Field, it was a threat that seemed like it would ruin the Rockies’ afternoon pretty early. The Giants put Brandon Crawford in motion, and Posey hit the ball hard up the middle.

But then, one of the best double plays you’ll see this year took place:

Thanks to the double play, Chatwood escaped the first inning without allowing a run. He also escaped the second, third, and fourth innings as well, despite allowing a lot of traffic. Chatwood had a hard time finding the strike zone, as only 62 of his 114 pitches were strikes. He faced nine three-ball counts. The Giants also had a few hard hit balls, but they were well placed, at least from the Rockies’ perspective.

The fifth inning wasn’t as kind to Chatwood. He struck out his counterpart Ty Blach to lead the inning off, and he walked Denard Span for the third time of the day. After a Joe Panik lineout, Chatwood had the chance to get out of another inning unscathed. But Crawford hit an opposite field home run to left field to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

Chatwood finished the inning and returned for a scoreless sixth. In all, he allowed two runs on five hits while walking four and striking out five. Chatwood wasn’t sharp, but he keep the Rockies in the game. This was important because the Rockies had a hard time figuring out Blach for most of the day.

The Rockies finally were able to get to Blach in the fifth inning though. LeMahieu led off the inning with a walk, and Arenado followed it up with a double to left center. It made the game 2-1, but the Rockies stranded Arenado at second base after consecutive pop outs from Mark Reynolds and Ian Desmond and a groundout from Carlos González.

Chris Rusin kept the Giants off of the board in the seventh inning. In the bottom half, the Rockies bats really woke up. Story hit a long homer to left field off of starter Blach, and Pat Valaika followed that up with a home run of his own later in the inning. The double dongs gave the Rockies a 3-2 lead.

Jordan Lyles pitched a clean eighth inning, and the Rockies brought Jake McGee into the game to try and get the save. He tried, but he did not succeed. After retiring Aaron Hill to lead off the inning, McGee walked Gorkys Hernández on four pitches. Pinch hitter Hunter Pence followed that up with a two-run home run, that gave the Giants a 4-3 lead. After that, Panik singled and made his way to second base after a Mark Reynolds’ error. Crawford brought him home with a double to make it a 5-3 game. Black replaced McGee with Carlos Estevez, who ended the inning without any further damage.

Then, the ninth inning happened. Pinch-hitter Tony Wolters grounded out against Mark Melancon to begin the inning. But then came a barrage of hits reminiscent of game 163 in 2007—it’s as if every ball in play was fated to land for a hit. Raimel Tapia and Charlie Blackmon singled to put runners on the corners. DJ LeMahieu followed that up with a seeing eye single to bring the Rockies to within one run. That brought Nolan to the plate. His three run-home run capped it all off.

The Rockies are off tomorrow. The Diamondbacks—who are one game behind the Rockies in the NL West, along with the Dodgers—come to town for a three-game series starting on Tuesday.

Take the day to savor this game—it’s going to go down as one of the most memorable in team history.

FanGraphs