This Colorado Rockies flashback for June 6 takes you back more than two decades to the 1999 season.
For all of you faithful readers of Rox Pile, the mention of the team’s game on June 6, 1999, date may still be fresh in your minds. Recently, Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry penned a five-question quiz for Colorado Rockies fans. The first question Henry posed in his quiz dealt with the last (and only) time in franchise history that the Rockies have clubbed four home runs in a single inning.
The blitz of four home runs — courtesy of Henry Blanco, Neifi Perez, Dante Bichette, and Angel Ecchevaria — came as part of an eight-run seventh inning and allowed Colorado to rally from a 4-2 deficit to eventually defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 10-5 on a Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.
Today’s flashback takes a closer look at that game and some of the key performers in the contest — for both the Rockies as well as the Brewers.
To begin, of the four Rockies who hit homers in the record-setting seventh inning on June 6, 1999, only one of the quartet could considered to be a home run “threat.”
Bichette, whose two-run blast (following a walk to Larry Walker) was Colorado’s third home run of the inning, was one of 34 homers for the outfielder in the 1999 season — the second best single-season total in his 14-year Major League career (his best season was 40 homers in 1995 while with the Rockies). He would finish his career with 274 home runs.
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Bichette was part of a four-pronged slugging attack for the Rockies in 1999 that combined for 139 homers. Besides his 34 homers that season, Walker blasted a team-high 37 homers while Todd Helton registered 35 and Vinny Castilla notched 33.
The other three Rockies to club homers during the eight-run, seventh-inning uprising in the game, however, could not be considered long-ball hitters.
Blanco, whose two-run bomb started the seventh-inning homer outburst and knotted the game at 4-4, ended up with only six home runs in 1999. The catcher never had more than 10 home runs in any season and only 72 during his 16-year Major League career.
Likewise, Perez, who socked a two-run home run three batters after Blanco’s blast, ended up with just 61 round-trippers in 12 seasons. The homer in the game for the shortstop was one of 12 on the season for him, tops for a season in his career. Perez had nearly as many triples (11) as he had home runs in 1999.
Meanwhile, Echevarria, who capped the big home run outburst with a solo shot, registered just 21 career home runs in seven seasons. His total of 11 in the 1999 campaign for the Rockies was his single-season best. The first baseman never had more than five in any other season.
The eight-run rally by the Rockies in the seventh inning, spurred by the four home runs, made a winner out of Rockies starting pitcher Pedro Astacio.
Ironically, in the record-setting inning, it was Astacio who helped his own cause at the plate. Following Blanco’s game-tying two-run homer, Astacio doubled to center field (one of 20 hits he compiled in 86 at bats in 1999) and came home to score the go-ahead run on Helton’s single. Helton would score one batter later on the home run by Perez.
Astacio, though, had his struggles on the mound in earning the win, which leveled his record at that point in the season at 5-5. The right-hander needed 153 pitches in completing 7.2 innings before manager Jim Leyland went to the bullpen.
Astacio allowed nine hits and five earned runs while issuing four walks and fanning 10. Four of the hits he permitted went the distance as all five Milwaukee runs came via home runs.
Interestingly, the first home run Astacio allowed was a fourth-inning solo blast by Brewers starting pitcher Scott Karl.
Karl would end up being the losing pitcher. He was pulled from the mound after allowing Blanco’s homer and Astacio’s double to start the seventh inning.
The 1999 season would be the fifth and final one for the left-hander with Milwaukee. Following the campaign, Karl (along with Jeff Cirillo) would be traded to the Rockies. While with Colorado for a portion of the 2000 season, his final in the Majors, Karl fashioned a 2-3 record with a 7.68 earned run average in 17 games.
The final three of the Rockies home runs in the seventh inning of the Milwaukee-Colorado contest came against journeyman reliever David Weathers.
In relief of Karl, Weathers retired only one battler of the six he faced while surrendering the Rockies’ final five runs of the inning.
Weathers was just three years removed from being a member of the New York Yankees’ World Series championship squad of 1996. In 19 Major League seasons, the right-hander appeared in 964 games with nine different teams.
Joining Karl and Weathers among the Brewers who saw action in the June 6, 1999, contest was Cirillo, who went 1-for-5 at the plate as the Brewers starting third baseman.
As part of the trade that brought Karl and him to Colorado after the season, Cirillo would go on to bat .326 for the Rockies in 2000 (same average as he had with the Brewers in 1999). He was part of the Rockies club that established a then franchise-high 24 hits in a 16-7 blitz of the Montreal Expos on May 3, 2000. Cirillo went 4-for-4 at the plate (all singles) with three runs scored in the team’s record-setting effort.
The 24 hits by the Rockies in that game stood as the franchise record for more than a decade. The mark was eclipsed on Sept. 25, 2011, when Colorado banged out 25 hits in a 19-3 romp at Houston.