Colorado Rockies: Spilborghs’ Grand Slam: The best moment in the best season
By Ben Macaluso
Sure, walk-off grand slams are always cool. Rarely though can they be associated with the best moments of an organization or a player to “kindly” tell the opposing team to get off the field. But there is nothing ordinary about the time Ryan Spilborghs hit a walk-off grand slam for the Colorado Rockies to win a late-August series against the pre-world-domination San Francisco Giants.
To understand how important this walk-off homer was, it’s important to not only know the context of the game played on August 24, 2009 but the entire season. After many injuries, the Rockies finished under .500 in 2008 after a magical 2007 season. Saying the Rockies got off to a slow in 2009 would be a nice way to put it. On May 29, the team was in last place in the division at 19-28 and manager Clint Hurdle was fired. Jim Tracy took over and that seemingly was the spark the Rockies needed.
Heading into the series against the Giants in August of that season, the Rockies had climbed their way back into contention in the Wild Card race. They had just swept the then lowly Washington Nationals before the Rockies lost the first game of the series against the Giants.
That brought the Rockies record to 68-54, only one game more than the Giants. They both were fighting for only one Wild Card spot. The next three games of the series were critical in establishing the Rockies legitimacy and validity of their comeback season.
The Rockies won the next two games to set us up for the dramatic comeback brought to you by Spilly. The final game of that series went almost five hours long and the score was tied at one until the 14th inning. The Giants had scored three runs finally wearing down Rockies pitching in the top half of the inning. The game seemed over. But the Rockies never quit. This game was a microcosm of the resiliency they showed all season. They chipped away and got a run back early in the bottom of the inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Spilly created one of the most memorable and important moments in Rockies history.
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Coming into that moment, Spilly hit six homers. He’d hit only eight the entire season. It wasn’t like anybody was expecting him to connect on one but that is the best part of Spilly. He came through when you needed him most. He was the lift off the bench you needed but more importantly he was the glue that kept this clubhouse motivated.
When he bolted around the bases, threw his helmet and yelling for the Giants to get off the field, it was a moment of elation somehow encapsulating all of the ups and downs of that season. It meant much more than the 6-4 final score. It signified that yes, this Rockies team was legitimate and that they could contend with anybody. It led them to the best record in franchise history at 92-69 and they are still arguably the best team in franchise history.
Watch it here:
The Rockies would best the Giants record by five games that season and the future looked bright. Spilly was the spark plug to that season which was encapsulated in this thrilling moment. His walk-off grand slam was the best moment in the best regular season for the Rockies.
Next: Can the Rockies keep up with the Dodgers?
There’s a reason he is still so heavily involved in the franchise. He makes it even more fun to come to the ballpark. Thank you Spilly.