After the Rockies finished up divisional road trip from hell, they headed, not home, but to the Astrodome, a place that sounds like a space-themed amusement park but was in fact a regulation Major League baseball park. In their first game against the Astros, the Rockies faced a lineup containing the likes of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Ken Caminiti. Given their dismal performance in the previous week, we can only assume that they melted at the very sight of these players, right?
Think again. In fact, the Rockies put on their most dominant offensive performance in a good three weeks and, thanks to some shoddy Houston defense, it was enough.
To be fair, those scary Astro hitters were pretty scary. Lance Painter was on the hill for the Rox, and he allowed 5 runs in as many innings. In the 2nd inning, Caminiti hit a single that scored Bagwell. In the 3rd, a Caminiti single scored both Bagwell and Biggio. Biggio also hit a solo home run. So it was no easy street for Painter. He departed after the 5th inning, behind 5-3.
But the rest of the team had something to say about that. They showed some fight that had been missing in the previous games during this trip. The bullpen, for one, did Painter a solid by scattering 4 hits and a walk over the final 4 innings and not allowing a single run. Six different relievers get the credit for that, though Gary Wayne would become the pitcher of record. And the offense suddenly came to life as well. Up to this point, the only runs had scored on a pair of home runs, one by Daryl Boston that scored Alex Cole, and a solo shot by Nelson Liriano. In the 7th, Xavier Hernandez relieved Pete Harnisch for the Astros, and things started happening.
The first of these things was a lead-off single by Eric Young, on the first pitch he saw. Then Cole hit a line drive between 3rd and short, which was mishandled by left fielder Chris James, allowing EY to score and Cole to go all the way to 3rd. He would score on a Charlie Hayes groundout; both runs in the inning were unearned thanks to the error. With the game tied, Jim Tatum hit a 2-run double in the 8th, and the Rockies scored the winning runs. Without bad defense, who knows which way this game would have gone? But it had to have given them some confidence, coming off that mess of a west coast trip. On paper, this should have been an Astros win, but that’s why they play the games.