The Rockies are fresh off a home sweep of the rival San Diego Padres that provided a few memorable moments. The first game of the set saw Austin Gomber deliver his best performance yet as a member of the organization, throwing eight shutout innings while only allowing three batters to reach base. This dominant performance was done in just 95 pitches and was good for an 80 game score, the highest by a Rockies starter this season.
It was a memorable performance in an otherwise gloomy season, and will become a positive memory for fans who were able to watch the game. It is one of 162 games in the season and will likely not make any meaningful difference come the end of the season (at least for the Rockies). However, highlight performances in otherwise lost seasons are important for us, the fans. We may not get the competitive, playoff caliber team we so desperately want from the organization, but we still tune in because of our love for the game and the good baseball from our squad we hope to see on any given day.
This is true now and was true this time 21 years ago, when Mike Lansing and the Colorado Rockies provided a performance that I still remember to this day.
I was fortunate enough to attend an afternoon matchup on June 18th, 2000 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Seated in the oven that is the upper deck along the first base line during a day game, the final matchup of a brief two game series seemed unremarkable enough heading in. The Rockies sat nine games over .500 after a 14-5 drumming of Arizona the day before and were one game behind the Diamondbacks for first place. The team was playing good baseball, but it was also June, so there was no reason to get hopes up yet.
Armando Reynoso, a member of the inaugural Rockies squad of 1993, took the ball for Arizona and matched up against Masato Yoshii on the Rockies side. Both entered the game with an ERA north of five, so a perfect pre-humidor bashfest seemed likely.
However it was the Rockies who did all the bashing, and they didn’t waste any time doing it. After a leadoff single by Tom Goodwin to lead off the bottom of the first inning, Mike Lansing laced an RBI triple off the right field wall to give the Rockies an early lead. Larry Walker would drive in Lansing and after one inning the Rockies led 2-0.
In the second, Brett Mayne led off with a single and Neifi Perez followed with a double to bring him home. Reynoso would set down Yoshii and Goodwin before Lansing struck again with a two-run homer over the left field wall stretching the lead to 5-1.
Come the third inning, the Rockies would turn this game into a laugher. After three singles and a double to start the frame, Reynoso was pulled before getting an out and lefty Omar Daal was brought in for Arizona. A single, fielder’s choice, error and walk later, Lansing stepped up with bases loaded. He promptly doubled to left-center, driving in two and giving him three extra-base hits in three at-bats. A single and home run would follow before the frame mercifully ended. After sending twelve batters to the plate in the inning, every position player in the Rockies lineup had recorded a hit in the game and the home squad led 14-1.
The bats stayed hot in the fourth. Mayne led off with a home run, Yoshii doubled and Goodwin singled to bring up Lansing with one out. After a triple, home run and double in the first three innings, Lansing needed a single to make history and got just that, sending a ball down the right field line off reliever Russ Springer to complete the cycle.
It took just ten outs for Lansing to hit for the cycle, which is the fastest for any player to achieve the feat and is a record that still stands to this day. For the 48,117 fans with a ticket, it was a day to witness history that every baseball fan dreams of when attending a ballgame.
But it also stood out as an oasis in a desert period of Rockies history. The win (which ended in a 19-2 final score) put the team in a first place tie in the NL West, marking the first time they had been on top of the division in June or later since 1996. They would not have another season reaching first place in June or later until 2006. It also brought the Rockies to 10 games over .500 for the first time since 1997, a highwater mark that wouldn’t be achieved again until the 2007 season.
Personally, this is one of my favorite Rockies memories. After the dismantling of the “Blake Street Bombers” but before “Rocktober” Rockies fans had to endure a low point period. However, there was a brief window of good baseball highlighted by a historical performance that created a memory I’ve carried for over twenty years.
As the nucleus of the teams that reached consecutive playoff appearances continues to be stripped away and Rockies fans bravely face down the abyss of another playoff drought, be sure to enjoy the good things when they happen. They may not always be history-making, but 21 years later you may still remember it fondly.
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Rockies assistant GM of scouting Jon Weil has left the Colorado organization, as reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and corresponded by Nick Groke of The Athletic. Weil had been with the Rockies organization since 2005 and is well known league-wide as “an astute evaluator” according to Groke and was “instrumental” in the Rockies acquisition of Germán Márquez. The reason for the departure is unclear, however it could be a sign of more front office changes to come as the organization has lost many staff members this season and may fill numerous roles this offseason.
As Spider Tack-gate rolls on, Andrew Krutz over at Pitcher List looks at some of the hitters most likely to benefit from the new league enforcement on foreign substances to the baseball. For those who may not be familiar, the use of foreign substances has directly impacted spin rates on pitches over the past few seasons, making life as hitter harder than it’s ever been. Krutz points out Trevor Story and Garret Hampson as two hitters who have faced the highest percentage of pitches in the 90th percentile of spin rate this season while producing a wOBA below .250. This data implies that as most spins rate go down without the aid of a foreign substance, there’s a good bet that the numbers for Story and Hampson will go up.
On the farm
Triple-A: Reno Aces 15, Albuquerque Isotopes 2
The Isotopes had a rough night in Reno, dropping their second straight game to the Aces. Brandon Gold pitched into the fifth inning, but finished with a final line of 4 1⁄3 IP with five hits, three runs (all earned) and three walks and strikeouts. The Albuquerque bullpen surrender an unsightly 12 runs in 3 2⁄3 innings in the blowout. Sam Hilliard was the lone offensive star, going two for four with a double and a home run.
Frank Duncan tossed seven marvelous innings, allowing only five hits while striking out eight without allowing a run or a walk. Unfortunately, the offensive support didn’t show up tonight as the Yard Goats fell in New Hampshire. Sam Bouchard collected two of the five Hartford hits on the day.
Spokane collected the lone win of the system on Friday, beating the Dust Devils on the road. The Indians tallied 12 hits in the contest, with Will MacIver accounting for four of them in an impressive performance that included a homer in the ninth. Nick Bush picked up the victory after allowing one run over eight innings on just three hits with seven punch-outs.
The Fresno Grizzlies marked 11 hits in a losing effort on Friday. Drew Romo continued his hot streak, going 2-4 at the dish. Grant Lavigne, who also went 2-4 in the ballgame, knocked out his second dinger of the season. After starter Keegan James departed following the third inning, relievers Blair Calvo and Austin Kitchen combined to surrender nine runs in two innings, digging a hole too deep for Fresno to climb out of.
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