Needing a bounceback performance after Friday night’s late-inning collapse, the Colorado Rockies logged an impressive 12-6 win on Saturday night over the Miami Marlins to pull even in a series between Wild Card contenders.
We Rockies fans are breathing rarefied air right now. For just the seventh time in our team’s history, they’re playing .500 baseball in the first week of August. The last time they were doing it was 2010, a year that felt like the team was headed for the playoffs up until the end of September.
The tide has finally turned, the years of waiting have paid off, and this is a team that, playoff-bound or not, is very exciting to watch.
Tonight’s game was a doozy, full of exciting offense and cringeworthy pitching, highlight-reel defense and nail-biter moments. On top of all that, two Marlins reached personal milestones. Giancarlo Stanton hit (arguably) the longest home run in Coors Field history, at 504 feet. By the numbers it was the longest, but this Mike Piazza one sure looks longer:
No matter which one was actually longer, the Stanton one was something to behold. Stanton is always a risk for towering homers, even in a year when his overall offensive production is down. That was a fun one to witness.
Then, Ichiro Suzuki came to the plate in the eighth inning. I was disappointed that Ichiro wasn’t in the starting lineup, since I’m really hoping to see him reach 3,000 hits this weekend. When he came to the plate in the eighth, he knocked a Jordan Lyles fastball down the third base line, where Nolan Arenado barehanded it and nearly got the out at first. It was a very close play, but Ichiro is still fast, and he got there for #2,999.
He played right field in the bottom of the eighth and then came to bat again in the ninth. The whole crowd was hoping for 3,000, but instead what they got was something bizarre: a comebacker to Scott Oberg that looked like an easy out but which then fell out of his glove. Somehow, he managed to retrieve the ball and throw it to Mark Reynolds before Ichiro touched the bag. It would have been an error, not a hit, if Ichiro had reached, but we were still sad.
Those were the Miami highlights … but the Colorado Rockies had even more thankfully. They’re back to .500, like I said, and they won tonight. The spread should have been bigger than that, but as is often the case, the Rockies’ bullpen was not about to let that happen. After a solid six-inning start by Chad Bettis, Lyles and Oberg combined to give up three runs in the final two innings. Thank goodness for insurance runs, right?
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Bettis was decent if not ace-quality. He was not super sharp, but he battled inning after inning to get three outs. His only really tough inning was the first when he gave up a triple and two singles before recording an out.
The crown jewel of this outing was the sixth inning, which Bettis almost didn’t see. He was nearing 100 pitches, and Walt Weiss sat him for pinch hitter Cristhian Adames in the bottom of the fifth. When Adames didn’t get the chance to bat, Weiss gave Bettis a shot to close out the sixth, and he did it on just seven pitches. It was great to see Bettis finish so strong and save the bullpen one more inning.
In the end, it was one of those nights where the pitching didn’t matter much because the offense took care of business. They were a little slow to start against former Padre Andrew Cashner, scoring just two runs in the first five innings. But a seven-run sixth broke the game open, as the Rockies sent 13 men to the plate and collected five singles, a double, and a triple. Carlos Gonzalez ended the inning with a called strike three and the bases loaded, an unfortunate outcome no matter the situation, but the Rockies still went back to the field in a very comfortable position.
They tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning, and several Rockies finished the night with impressive performances. Charlie Blackmon was 4-for-5 and fell a double short of the cycle, David Dahl was 3-for-5 with his first career triple, and Daniel Descalso was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI.
It was a great team win, and while the bullpen’s inability to shut things down at times still worries me, I have rarely seen this team play with so much energy and momentum in August.