Morneau Walks Off in Finale with Padres

Justin Morneau

gets his well-deserved high fives after hitting a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th.

It’s nice to end a series with a little bit of LoDo Magic. Especially when it’s a home series against the Padres in the middle of May that you darn well better win if your team is going to stay relevant. The Rockies’ relevance at this point in the season remains in question, but the excitement of today’s game at Coors Field does not.

Heroes include Justin Morneau, who finished off the Friars with a 2-run blast to straightaway center in the bottom of the 10th. There were 2 outs, and Morneau was sitting on Daniel Thayer’s fastball. He finally got one he liked and crushed it. Also, Carlos Gonzalez, who drove in a run with a pair of hits, despite getting a nasty plunk on his right shin guard in the 3rd. His defense was a little tentative, but, as Thomas Harding writes, his knee has been irritated lately, and the hit-by-pitch sure couldn’t have helped. Also, Charlie Blackmon. Don’t you just feel like a rally is on its way every single time The Outfield starts crooning to you over the stadium speakers? These days, Blackmon is a walking worth-the-price of admission. (I called it, by the way–three years ago.) He singled in 2 runs in the 3rd and singled to start off the 7th as well. He’s hitting .339.

Zeroes: Blackmon again, for some serious baserunning blunders. Pay no mind to my lauding of his running smarts in the above link, because he had none today. He walked on pitcher Donn Roach‘s first five pitches in the top of the 1st, and then thought trying to steal 2nd was a good idea. (It’s not when the pitcher can’t find the strike zone. Stay patient, and he’ll probably walk the guy after you. Roach did.) Blackmon was initially called safe, but Padres’ manager Bud Black was having none of that, and succeeded in getting the call overturned. He did it again with Corey Dickerson minutes later. The stadium was filled with boos, but from what I could see, both times the runner was out. Black was well within his rights to challenge, and he was smart to do so, because those runners could have turned into runs, and the fact that they didn’t pushed the game into extra innings. Blackmon, by the way, was the player at the center of a disputed tag at second base again later in the game, and he was called safe, only to then get caught in a rundown between third and home.

Juan Nicasio also gets thumbs down for his work today. He was visibly frustrated at his inability to throw strikes, and so was I. He only issued one walk, but throwing all those balls meant that he got deep into the count with a lot of hitters, which led to him only lasting 6 innings. Not his worst outing, but definitely not his best either. The bullpen picked him up a bit–Rex Brothers and Adam Ottavino each threw a scoreless inning–and then LaTroy Hawkins came in and gave up the tying runs on a homer by Everth Cabrera. Zero for you too, LaTroy.

In a game with as many exciting moments as this one, I’d be remiss not to mention the most exciting: the triple play the Rockies turned in the 3rd. Nicasio had gotten himself into a bit of a jam when Carlos Quentin hit a chopper to 3rd. Nolan Arenado fielded it cleanly and sent it on its way to DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu was late getting it to 1st, and the umpire there initially called Quentin safe. But then Seth Buckminster, the second base umpire who probably felt he owed this to Rockies fans after some epically bad calls earlier in the series, called interference on Seth Smith. Indeed, Smith did grab LeMahieu’s ankle as he slid nowhere near the base. I guess we’ll never know if LeMahieu would have made the play under ideal circumstances, but as far as Buckminster was concerned, he would have.

Fundamentally, not the Rockies’ best game this season. The starting rotation is still too much of a mess for me to have great confidence going forward. But it was a fun Sunday at Coors, and I certainly got to see more than the average amount of cool stuff.