The Independence Day weekend brings about a baseball tradition unlike any other. It involves packing the stadium full of fans and launching beautiful fireworks displays after the game. The baseball games themselves are full of fireworks in the form of home runs and walk-off victories. On July 4, 2008, the Rockies provided one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history delivering plenty of their own fireworks in a bonkers 18-17 victory over the Florida Marlins at Coors Field. How did it happen? Join me as we once again venture into the Rockies’ past to answer this exact question.
“These are the times that try men’s souls.”- Thomas Paine
Believe it or not, it wasn’t a great day for pitching at Coors Field. Greg Reynolds started for the Rockies and the former first-round pick lasted just an inning and a third, giving up seven runs on seven hits. The Marlins put up a five-spot in the first inning thanks to a lead-off home run by Hanley Ramírez, a run-scoring double by Mike Jacobs, and a three-run homer by Matt Treanor. In the next inning, the Marlins capitalized on a pair of singles when Josh Willingham hit a ground-rule double to score Ramírez and Jorge Cantú.
Reynolds was relieved by Cedrick Bowers who managed to close out the inning and pitch a clean third inning, before falling apart in the fourth. Bowers loaded the bases with the first four batters, before giving up a bases-clearing double to Cody Ross. After getting a strikeout, he then gave up double to Alfredo Amézaga that scored Ross and ended Bowers day on the hill. Luis Vizcaíno came in to pitch for the Rockies and after tallying a strikeout for the second out, gave up a double to Ramírez who then scored on a Jeremy Hermida single. The Rockies were trailing 13-4 heading to the bottom of the fourth, but all was not lost.
“I have not yet begun to fight!”- John Paul Jones
While the Marlins hitters were bombarding the Rockies, Colorado’s offense was slowly chipping away at the deficit. Scott Olsen started for the Marlins and was immediately greeted with back-to-back doubles from Ryan Spilborghs and Clint Barmes. The duo would strike again in the bottom of the second with back-to-back singles that each scored a run. Garrett Atkins hit a lead-off double in the third inning, advancing to third on an error, and scored on a Jeff Baker groundout.
In the bottom of the fourth, down by nine runs, the Rockies knew they had a lot of work to do, and slowly by surely they began to make the comeback. Spilborghs continued his hot day at the plate by blasting a home run to left field to keep the momentum going. Following a clean fifth inning by Vizcaíno, the Rockies continued their onslaught against Olsen. Matt Holliday led off the inning with a solo shot followed by Atkins and Baker getting base hits. With two men on, Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta blasted a three-run homer to make it a 13-9 ballgame, and ending Olsen’s day for Florida.
Jason Grilli pitched for the Rockies in the sixth, and the Marlins were blanked yet again. The Rockies had all the momentum and carried it through their half of the inning. Facing the Marlins new pitching Taylor Tankersley, Spilborghs hit a towering fly ball to left-center field for his second home run of the game. A few batters later, Atkins would join in on with a two-run shot of his own, scoring Barmes, and pulling the Rockies back within one run heading into the seventh.
“The shot heard around the world.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Grilli came out to pitch the seventh inning but ran into trouble as the Marlins loaded the bases with doubles from Cantú and Willingham and an intentional walk issued to Jacobs. Ross then delivered a single that scored two runs to extend their lead once again. Manny Corpas relieved Grilli and quickly got two outs thanks to a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice to cut down a runner at the plate. Unfortunately, Luis Gonzalez pulled through for the Marlins and delivered a two-run single to give them a 17-12 lead.
The Rockies still didn’t quit as Omar Quintanilla (who replaced Troy Tulowitzki as part of the double-switch) led off the bottom of the seventh with a double against Justin Miller. Spilborghs and Barmes then followed suit with back-to-back walks against Miller and fellow Marlins reliever Logan Kensing, to load the bases for Holliday. With the count full, the bases loaded, and the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Holliday launched Kensing’s pitch for his third career grand slam and second homer of the game. The Rockies were back within one run, with just two innings to go.
“Remove yourself, sir!”- David McCollough, John Adams
Corpas managed to avert trouble in the eighth by causing Traenor to pop out behind home plate with the bases loaded. The Rockies then fell 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth to set the stage for the ninth inning. Taylor Buchholz took over for the Rockies and allowed just one walk in a clean inning of work, thus giving his team a chance to overcome the deficit and complete the comeback.
Facing Marlins closer Kevin Gregg, who had blown a save the day prior, the Rockies slapped three straight singles to score Barmes and tie the game. A few batters later, Iannetta stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a weakly hit single to third that scored Holliday. The Rockies had done it! They had completed the comeback and pulled off a walk-off victory, and one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history, by a score of 18-17.
Fireworks for all
The Rockies managed to deliver plenty of fireworks on that day for the Colorado faithful and it paid off with fantastic offensive performances by the purple pinstripe crew. It’s a memorable game in Rockies history, as it was one of the highest-scoring games since the pre-humidor era at Coors Field. Hopefully, the Rockies can repeat this offensive performance as they finish up the series against Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals.
-Ryan Spilborghs and Clint Barmes both went 4 for 5, and Garrett Atkins went 5 for 6.
-The Rockies and Marlins combined for 35 runs on 43 hits, 21 of them for extra bases with eight home runs.
-14 pitchers were used with 325 total pitches thrown.
If you’d like to watch the game in its entirety, you can check it out here.
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With the calendar turning over to July, it’s inevitable that the rumors and theories surrounding Trevor Story will continue to grow. Our pals over at Rox Pile put out another idea that could see Story heading to Cincinnati, a team that could use an upgrade at shortstop. A Story trade is become increasingly difficult, as his status as a position rental makes determining his trade value tricky. The Reds are not far behind the Cubs for the second Wild Card spot, but with so many teams in a good position for those spots, they may not end up as buyers at the deadline.
Nick Groke a Rockies insider for the Athletic on Arenado’s return to Colorado and if the Cardinals could pull off a trade for Trevor Story | 101 ESPN
Nick Groke hopped on to chat with the ESPN radio crew in St. Louis to discuss his perspective on Nolan Arenado’s return to Denver and just the relationship in general with the fans. Groke has provided plenty of perspective on the Rockies and the front office and provides some good points of discussion in this short interview.
On the farm
Due to weather conditions (and what must have been some grand miracle) it was a short affair in Albuquerque but it doesn’t appear the Isotopes are complaining. The Isotopes were held hitless through five innings by Luke Westphal in his Triple-A debut in which he tallied six strikeouts, but that wasn’t the worst of it as El Paso scored 16 runs on 20 hits through five innings. Ryan Castellani started on the hill and recorded just two outs, allowing four runs on three hits and issuing two free passes. Jesus Tinoco struggled through three innings as he allowed nine runs on 13 hits. El Paso then added three more runs on three hits against Nelson Gonzalez, and had a lead off single in the sixth against rehabbing Mychal Givens before the game was delayed.
It was the Willie MacIver show for Hartford in the first game of the twin bill as the catcher set a franchise record as the first Yard Goat to hit three home runs in a single game. MacIver launched a homer in the second, fourth, and sixth innings to drive in six of Hartford’s seven runs. David Hill battled through five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, including three home runs, and striking out five Altoona batters, but it was enough to notch his first victory of the season.
A make-up game from June 29, pitching was the name of the game in the nightcap. Matt Dennis turned in a stellar performance for Hartford, allowing just one run on one hit, a home run by Mason Martin, and striking out five batters. Max George got Hartford on the board in the bottom of the third with his fourth homer of the year, with Taylor Snyder driving in the winning run in the bottom of the fifth. Nick Kennedy and Julian Fernández combined to close out the game for Hartford and secure the double-header sweep.
Mitchell Kilkenny delivered a quality start for Spokane, allowing just two runs in six innings of work. A six-run eighth inning was enough to give Spokane the lead thanks to a string of base hits and costly Tri-City errors. Dugan Darnell came in to close out the game and after issuing a lead-off walk, struck out the next three batters to nail down the save and the victory.
Late innings heroics sent Fresno fans home happy as they defeated the Quakes 10-9 in walk-off fashion. Fresno starter Anderson Amarista was roughed up in three innings of work, allowing six runs on eight hits. Anderson Pilar then tossed three scoreless innings to give Fresno a chance to chip away at the deficit. The Grizzlies blasted three home runs in the bottom of the eighth, the biggest hit coming in the form of Colin Simpson’s three-run shot. Ezequiel Tovar doubled in the ninth to score Eddy Diaz to come within one, and Grant Lavigne hit his fifth homer of the year to win the ball game. In total, the Grizzlies hit five home runs on the night.
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