May 27, 2000: Colorado Rockies 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 6

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Aug 30, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton (17) rounds the bases after his home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Reds 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

On May 27, 2000 – 15 years ago today – the Colorado Rockies hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field and won a walk-off thanks to Todd Helton’s late-inning heroics.

More from Colorado Rockies History

Fresh off a victory in which the Colorado Rockies held on for dear life Wednesday afternoon – and a loss Tuesday night in which they gave up a ninth inning walk-off – it seems appropriate to look back again on a historical Rockies game, this one from May 27, 2000.

Exactly fifteen years ago today, a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning by a former player you may remember pushed the Rockies and manager Buddy Bell (!) to a 7-6 victory at Coors Field over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So let’s have some fun and go back to May 27, 2000:

The Team

The 2000 Colorado Rockies finished up 82-80, which was one of only seven seasons (out of 23 in the franchise’s history) with a final record above .500. Of course, 82-80 wasn’t good enough to go anywhere, and the club finished fourth in a very strong National League West that season.

Todd Helton had the year of his life for the Rockies in 2000, finishing fifth in MVP voting while slashing .372/.463/.698, and leading the league in hits, doubles, RBIs, batting, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases.

Yeah.

He also walked 103 times against just 61 strikeouts in 160 games, while making the All-Star team. He was pretty much playing a video game that season.

Helton wasn’t the only Rockie who mashed, though; Jeffrey Hammonds also enjoyed the year of his life in 2000, slashing .335/.395/.529 with 20 home runs and 106 RBIs in 122 games in what would be his only season with the Rockies.

On the mound, Gabe White dominated in relief, going 11-2 with a 2.17 ERA and five saves in 67 games, striking out 82 hitters and walking only 14 in 83 innings.

Pedro Astacio paced the starters, going 12-9 with a 5.32 ERA in 32 starts, throwing 196 innings and striking out 193 (!) hitters.

The Opponent

The 2000 Pittsburgh Pirates were awful, and ended up finishing 69-93, with Jason Kendall leading the way for them hitting .320 and catching every day. Brian Giles also hit .315 and had 35 HR and 123 RBI, though the club was awful on the mound with a 4.94 team ERA good enough for 12th in the National League. (Yes, the Rockies’ team ERA was worse, and at 5.26 was good enough for dead last in the league.)

Todd Ritchie started this particular game for the Pirates, and actually had a pretty decent year for them (9-9, 4.81), though Kris Benson was by far their best starting pitcher in 2000.

The Game

The Pirates jumped out to a 4-0 lead through the first three innings, highlighted by a two-run home run from Wil Cordero off Karl in the third, and the Rockies would have to chip away in this one.

Karl gave up another run in the fifth on an RBI single by Kevin Young that scored Jason Kendall, and his day was done with the Rockies losing 5-0, having gone just 4.2 innings and allowing nine hits and a walk.

Julian Tavarez replaced Karl, and was actually brilliant in relief (he allowed just a run in 3.1 innings pitched), but the story for the second half of the game centered in the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Rockies got all five runs back in short order off Ritchie.

It started when Mike Lansing singled with runners on first and second, to get the Rockies on the board, and the score jumped to 5-2 when Jeff Cirillo hit an RBI single in front of Helton.

Then, with two on and two out, Helton came to the plate and hit a three-run home run that bounced Ritchie and tied the game at five.

In the seventh, each team scored a run (for the Rockies, it was actually Helton who scored from third on a wild pitch with the bases loaded), and the game entered the bottom of the ninth inning in a 6-6 tie.

The Turning Point

The walk-off! Jason Christiansen stayed on for the Pirates to throw the bottom of the ninth after a perfect eighth inning and, well, he threw exactly one pitch. Helton hit it in the seats to seal the Rockies’ walk-off victory.

Helton didn’t have too bad of a game, finishing 4-for-4 with two home runs, two singles, a walk, three runs scored, and four RBIs. Kendall was 4-for-5 for the Pirates.

Why It Matters

Games like this – going down 5-0, getting five runs back immediately, and winning on a long ball – are the types of games that made Coors Field’s reputation into what we all know and love (or hate) today.

These games are way pre-humidor, and the idea that a team could go down 5-0 in four and a half innings, and not even be fazed because there’s always a home run (or, in Helton’s case on this day, two home runs) in the tank is something that doesn’t happen at every ball park, and is so Coors-Field-in-2000.

More from Rox Pile

And how can you hate that?

(Assuming you’re not Scott Karl or Todd Ritchie.)

The Writer

On May 27, 2000, I would’ve been in middle school.

To be honest, I don’t know what I was doing, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t at this game. Were you?

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