The gash above Nolan Arenado‘s left eye is worn like a badge of honor. The roar he elicits after hitting a walk-off home run to complete his cycle and the sweep of the formally indomitable San Francisco Giants, bellows much farther than Lower Downtown Denver. The moment is a message to the nation. It’s long past due to pay attention. The Colorado Rockies have arrived and they’re here to compete for the long haul.
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It will go down in history as one of the most consequential cuts in Colorado Rockies franchise history, only behind Matt Holliday‘s bloody chin as he slid head first into home plate to advance into the 2007 postseason. This time though, there is no doubt that Arenado touched home plate to rally in the bottom of the ninth to win 7-5. The mob that meets him at the dish make sure of that. After giving him a cut any fighter would be proud to wear, his teammates wash it away with a blue Powerade bath.
It didn’t seem physically possible to feel more goosebumps until the crowd started bellowing a “MVP’ roar of their own. Very few people of the sell-out crowd of more than 48,000 left even after the Giants scored three in the top of the ninth. This city is starting to believe what the Rockies believe. This club can win at any moment. The MVP chants didn’t stop in the Coors Field confines. The chants ran though, even hours later, in the conversations of bustling Union Station and on to a packed light rail where the riders were united in purple in black. Even if it was just for a moment, Denver felt like a baseball city.
"“The fans deserve it. It’s getting loud here. It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard this place. I think the fans are starting to get the hint that we are for real. We need their support. I was just fired up. I just wanted to show the [fans] some love,” Arenado said about showing his emotion after the home run."
Mark Reynolds felt a similar energy in the park. He said that this was the loudest he’s heard the park except for maybe the 2007 playoffs when he was a rookie playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arenado’s feat is so monumental, it overshadows the biggest team accomplishment for this series. The Rockies swept the Giants in a four-game series for the first time in franchise history. This is one of the most difficult series the Rockies have played this year. They gave up 17 runs in the first two games and nearly blew the win in three out of the four games. Instead the team have now won nine consecutive games against the Giants. That is the longest winning streak verse a NL West opponent in franchise history. More importantly they are a season-high 20 games above .500.
Even with a taxed bullpen, this team showed they can still win by any means. There is no quit in this team. Bud Black mentioned that as much as this team feeds off the fans, they feed of one another.
"“After Carlos [Estévez] struck out Buster Posey [to end the ninth], there was still life in the dugout,” Black said after Jake McGee surrendered a pinch-hit two run homer to give the Giants a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. “There was a lot of ‘come on, we can do this’. There is no dejection. Our guys were fine. Jake [McGee] was bummed but it happens. Those guys play too.”"
When asked if he has seen his player’s pick each other up this home stand, Black saw something different.
"“We’ve seen this the entire season.”"
The last time a major league player hit a walk-off home run to complete the cycle was on July 31,2010 against the Cubs. That happened to be Arenado’s teammate Carlos Gonzalez who knew exact feeling Arenado felt as he danced all over home plate. This homer was off one of the best closer’s in baseball in Mark Melancon. Arenado said he was trying to hit it to the outfield just to get the tying run home. He got a two-seamer inside and needless to say he did much more with the pitch.
"“I remember watching CarGo’s homer when he hit it. It was amazing I guess I know what he feels like,” Arenado said smiling."
In a season defining game that will be remembered as the Father’s Day game, Arenado (along with his teammate Pat Valaika) hit a homer both on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in 2017.
"“I’m thankful for my mom and dad and I love them both. They helped me get here. I guess I get to tell them how much I love them by hitting a home run.”"
Part of the reason Denver and more of the national media are showing the Rockies more love is because of their starting pitching. Tyler Chatwood was exemplary in this game of how the Rockies are getting the job done.
Chatwood struggled with his ball to strike ratio and command but went six innings only giving up two runs. He gave his team a chance. With the way this team can score runs, that’s all they need.
"“I think we just expect to win,” Chatwood said. “If we get down early, we don’t panic. We expect to win. I think it’s the first time I’ve been here that we’ve been able to do that.”"
The Rockies were a legitimate contender long before long before Arenado’s cycle. But this moment is a rallying cry not only to the city of Denver but the entire baseball community that the Colorado Rockies are for real. Hear them roar.