Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rockies Overcome 6-1 Deficit To Defeat San Francisco And Extend Wild Card Lead

Apparently the humidor is not working.

On a hot and dry night at Coors Field the Rockies sent Jorge De La Rosa to the mound for what was the biggest game of the season for the team.

After dropping a tough game on Friday to the Giants, reducing their wild card lead to just one game, the Rockies desperately needed a win on Saturday.

It didn't look good early.

After a quick first inning, De La Rosa gave up three runs in the second inning, then two more in the third, and one more in the fourth. With the Rockies down 6-1 to a seemingly determined Giants team. For a brief moment the thought for the Rockies had to be whether or not they were good enough to beat their biggest opponents in the National League West.

The Rockies put two runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth, but the way that De La Rosa was pitching, and the way that the Giants were hitting, the momentum was still strongly in favor of the visitors.

Momentum, however, can change quickly.

After De La Rosa found his location, the Rockies struck gold in the sixth inning.

Troy Tulowitzki led off with a single, then Brad Hawpe hit a ball to left that just kept going. It sailed over the head of Randy Winn, who badly misplayed the ball, leaving Hawpe at second with a double and Tulowitzki at third. Up to the plate came Ian Stewart with an opportunity to put the Rockies back in the game.

The Rockies would have taken a single. It would have put the Rockies within a run with no one out. Instead of a single and being down by a run, Stewart elected to tie the game. He hit a ball high and deep to left center field, the 411 foot blast sent the Coors Field faithful into a frenzy. With no one out, Joe Martinez's night on the mound, and seemingly easy win, was over.

The bullpen was no relief for the Giants.

After Stewart's home run Yorvit Torrealba hit a single into center field, then pinch hit extraordinaire Seth Smith stepped to the plate. Smith lined a pitch straight down the right field line. Smith slid into third with a run scoring triple. It gave the Rockies a lead they would not relinquish.

Dexter Fowler then hit his second triple of the night to score Smith, then scored on a wild pitch to Todd Helton. Helton then showed how good his back feels. He launched a ball deep into the right field bleachers that took Rockies fans back to 2001 when Helton blasted 49 home runs.

The Rockes scored seven runs in the inning and were off to a 14-11 win, putting them back to two games ahead of the Giants in the Wild Card standings.

The win was exactly what the Rockies needed. A loss would have put the Giants in a dead heat in the standings with the tough task of facing Tim Lincecum in a Sunday matchup. It also ensures that even if the Rockies falter over the next two days the Giants will fly out of Denver with no more than a tie with the Rockies in the standings.

As far as the standings go it was a huge game. As far as the mental side of the game, it was even bigger.

Down 6-1 the Rockies easily could have folded and waited for their chance Sunday. When it looked like the team was buried they dug deeper and found a way to not accept defeat. Even with a huge deficit, the team was able to prove that they are the better hitting team.

The excitement of the win may go miles for the team that is looking to put the Giants away. With two more wins in the series the Rockies would face the Dodgers worried more about the National League West race than the Wild Card race, as the Giants would be four games behind them in the standings.

Winning two more games against the Giants will not be an easy task, however as the Giants have Lincecum on the hill Sunday. While Lincecum is definitely a tall task, the Rockies counter with Ubaldo Jimenez, who has taken steps to become the type of pitcher that his talent says he will be.

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