Back and forth they went. Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies rallied late in today’s game, each coming up with clutch hits. The Rockies eventually pulled out a huge divisional victory, as Jason Giambi hit an electrifying 3 run walk-off home run.
The win pulls the Rockies back up to a .500 record at 12-12. The way they got there was complicated, controversial, and ultimately really entertaining. Based on what happened today and up to this point in the season, I’ve come up with what I think are some solid rules to live by:
1. It’s always OK to pass on Matt Kemp and anybody with the last name Hairston.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy, a favorite target of baseball bloggers, writers, and critics, created waves with a decision he made in the 8th inning of today’s game. With 2 outs, a 5-3 lead and one runner on for Kemp, Tracy walked him intentionally. This brought pinch hitter Dee Gordon to the plate and, most importantly, put the tying run on base. By choice. As you can imagine, Tracy has been panned with criticism for this decision, especially since Kemp scored from first base and tied it up at 5.
To me it was perfectly OK. I understand the arguments against it: you should never put the tying run on by choice, if he hits a home run to tie the game the bases are at least clear, and Matt Kemp isn’t worthy of the Barry Bonds treatment yet. To which I say…
…I would still much rather face Gordon. If Kemp goes deep, wouldn’t at least a few people have said: “I don’t care if it’s unconventional, but you just can’t let Kemp beat you there.” Maybe? And it’s not the Bonds treatment – if Andre Ethier had been on deck, that would have made it the Bonds treatment. It was Dee Freaking Gordon, he of the .209 BA and .255 OBP. And yes he did hit a home run yesterday, but that was off the guy who just got sent to AAA. I liked the move.
As for the Hairstons…I am just so freaking tired of watching them kill the Rockies. From Scott’s home run in the 2007 play-in game to his cycle this weekend to Jerry’s key hit today. Enough already! I say we give them the Bonds treatment, even if Rafael Betancourt did get Jerry to end the Rockies’ half of the 9th inning today.
2. Todd Helton‘s reputation precedes him
Wait, so you’re saying that’s not what they mean when they talk about star calls? Actually I have no idea if this explains Tim Welke’s missed call at first today. But I think we can all agree Helton is the master of selling the out on close plays at first.
But can we stop pretending this swung the results of today’s game? I know it was an important moment and a horrible missed call, but nobody knows if it would have actually changed the outcome. It’s like whiny Padres fans who say that they would have won that same play-in game if Matt Holliday had been called out at home. Uhh…the game was tied, right? Spare me. We’re only still talking about it today because it was so laughably bad.
3. There’s nothing quite like a big series win in the division
The Dodgers were hot and they have given the Rockies fits in previous years. On the long list of things that need to change if the Rockies are going to matter, winning in the division is near the top, especially winning in the division at Coors Field. After they failed to come back last night, today’s game was crucial.
4. When Carlos Gonzalez is hot, he can carry you
I know that’s the cliche when people talk about baseball’s superstars, but it really feels true with CarGo. Just keep the game close, and he will come through like he did with that straight-out-of-Star Wars home run in the 8th inning today. He also provides a legite challenge to Dustin Pedroia for one of the best nicknames going: the laser show. If you don’t believe me, go watch that home run again.
5. Jason Giambi is a bad man
The home run was awesome. The bat flip was awesome. I love me some Jason Giambi.
P.S. – Giambi might have not-so-subtly flipped off the Dodgers while the ball was in flight. I’m a little unsure what I should make of that; it either makes it more bad ass or kind of petty and lame. I’m going to with the bad ass option because of the Giambino’s track record.
The Rockies have an off day tomorrow, followed by a weekend series with the Atlanta Braves, who are coming off a game in which they tagged Roy Halladay for 8 runs. It will be a good test to end the homestand.