In Todd Helton‘s final game the Rockies got as close to a Hollywood finish as could be by a team trying to win its 74th game out of 162. Perhaps also in his last Rockies appearance, the Rockies 2002 first round draft pick, Jeff Francis (2-5) started against the Los Angles Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7). Francis came into the game with the second most wins in franchise history, and the most by a left-handed pitcher. Francis also won a team high 17 games in the 2007 world series appearance season.
Much has changed for Francis, after severe struggles on the year the Canadian born 32-year-old has worked out of the bullpen since the All-Star Break. In the words of the great Vin Scully: it was “more Hollywood than Hollywood.” Francis went five innings of what should have been scoreless baseball if not for a bit of inexperience from Charlie Culberson, which led to the Dodgers only run of the ballgame but did not quite qualify as an error for the outfielder. Francis struck out six Dodgers and only gave up three hits in the outing.
While not one Dodgers pitcher struggled, Ryu did give up eight hits and two runs in only four innings of work. All indications were that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was just trying to set up his rotation for the postseason, because Ryu was followed by six pitchers, including two possible starters in Ricky Nolasco and Chris Capuano, as well as the back-end of the bullpen without a save situation present with Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen both seeing action.
As for the two Colorado runs, Troy Tulowitzki singled with the bases loaded in the first inning, but the inning was kept at one run by Ryu. In the fourth inning two singles, a sacrifice bunt, and another single led to the Rockies second run of the day. Dodgers pitching did a good job of bending without breaking, leaving 12 Rockies on base for the game.
Fortunately for Colorado their pitching did not even bend until the 9th inning. Rex Brothers is thought to be the Rockies future closer by many people, and he recorded his 19th save of the year, but not without some drama. Brothers issued a walk, single, and a walk in that order before striking out the last two batters of the game to secure the last game of the season.
Todd Helton’s last game was a true summary of his career. The 40-year-old Tennessee native quietly but efficiently and professionally singled and walked. The only thing left to make his ride into the sunset any better would have been a double, but he did save a run on a leaping snag, showing all those Hall of Fame doubters that it is not just about offense after all.