Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rockies Rally To Beat Pirates On Todd Helton's Walk Off Blast

If many Rockies fans and baseball experts had their way, Todd Helton would have been shipped off a long time ago. Less than a year ago all anyone talked about was how overpaid the 35 year-old is and how he is simply just a shell of the player he once was.

It will be tough to find those same negative voices these days.

Todd Helton, Mr. Rockie, delivered a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off Jesse Chavez to complete the comeback and secure a 9-7 Rockies victory. They have now won 15 of their last 16 games, putting the club squarely in playoff contention as the All-Star break approaches.

The Helton home run came after the Rockies found themselves down by three runs with two outs in the eighth inning, when eight hole hitter Chris Iannetta, on an 0-2 pitch, launched a 445 foot, game-tying home run to dead center field.

The Iannetta home run brought cheers from the fans that showed that the masses are finally back behind this team. While most who attend games at Coors Field are more concerned about how many times the wave makes it around the stadium, Saturday was different. Fans were ready for the Rockies to make a comeback, even when it looked like they would have to wait until Sunday to try and win the series.

The late inning heroics would never have been possible without the night that Ian Stewart had. Stewart went 3-for-4 with three RBI's, two coming on a massive home run of his own, also to straight away center field. At the time it gave the Rockies a 4-2 lead. Stewart also had a second inning run scoring triple, and a double in the fourth, leaving him just a single short of his first career cycle.

This was a game that possibly showed that the Rockies are for real. They should have lost. Even good teams typically lose a game in which their bullpen gives up the three inherited runners that they receive, plus two of their own.

The feeling for these Rockies is that they are going to find a way to win every game. It does not seem to matter who scores first, who has the lead in late innings, or who is coming up in the batting order, they will find a way to win.

The scary thing at this point for the opposition is the fact that some of the Rockies best hitters are still struggling at the plate. Stewart, after his 3-for-4 night is still hitting just .231. Ironically, Stewart is hitting just .157 at home. That is a stat that most definitely will change. Iannetta, after going 2-for-3 is now hitting just .233. Troy Tulowitzki, who has been hot for the past two weeks, is still hitting just .245.

What kind of damage will this team do when all of the bats start firing at the same time? It may not matter if the starting pitching begins to falter. The offensive attack may be so strong that they will simply outscore the opponent.

The confidence that this Colorado team has is so evident that it is spilling over to the seats at Coors Field. Fans are jumping back on board the bandwagon that has been broken down since the end of the 2007 miracle run. After Helton's home run, instead of rushing to beat the traffic, fans stayed and waited to give Helton a much deserved curtain call. It was not just a few fans, it was the vast majority of the fans.

The Rockies only blemish in the last two and a half weeks was the last time Jorge De La Rosa took the mound. De La Rosa attempts to erase that outing with a good one on Sunday. A win would give the Rockies their fourth sweep in their last five series. Game time is 1:10 PM Mountain Time, with Fox Sports on the TV side and 850 KOA on the radio side.

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