Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rockies Walk Off With Victory, Look For Sweep

Jason Giambi earned his paycheck on Wednesday.

The slugger was re-signed in the offseason to provide Todd Helton with a few days off and to provide a big bat off of the bench late in games. He has struggled throughout most of the season, but he pulled through Wednesday night, hitting a walk off home run off of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to give the Rockies a 8-6 victory.

The bomb came two batters after Ian Stewart launched his first home run at Coors Field off of Papelbon. Stewart came into the at bat with just six hits in June so far. The home run was a long time coming.

Both home runs were no doubters. Stewart's bomb was well into the second deck and Giambi's was high above the stadium, yet still traveled all the way to the facing of the second deck. The home runs bring a certain amount of revenge for Rockies fans after Papelbon shut the Rockies down three times in the 2007 World Series.

The fact that the Rockies were in the situation late in the game probably came as a surprise to most fans watching the game. With Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound, it seemed like the score would have been closer to Tuesday night's game rather than the slugfest that broke out.

Jimenez, who was battling flu-like symptoms throughout the outing, was clearly off of his game. After shutting down the Red Sox for three innings, fatigue set in and Jimenez started laboring. He nearly got out of a two-on, one out jam, but he hung a two strike curveball to Daniel Nava, who drove the pitch into the right-center gap, scoring both runs.

In the sixth inning, the pride of Cherry Creek High School, Darnell McDonald launched a two run home run that suddenly tied up the game. After John Lackey smoked a double over Carlos Gonzalez's head, it was clear that Jimenez was batting with his sickness.

This was a night that the Rockies offense needed to bail out their ace. In his only loss of the season, Jimenez gave up only two hits, both of which did not leave the infield. The 13-1 ace showed his character in the clubhouse after the game. He was sporting his standard smile, fully celebrating the Rockies victory. It would have been easy for him to be disappointed in his rough outing. "It's not about me, it's about the team" said Jimenez. "I am happy for them, they picked me up tonight."

Attitudes like Jimenez's are what make these Rockies worth rooting for. He is in the midst of a record setting season and after a setback like Wednesday's he was not hanging his head and thinking about himself, he was thinking about how grateful he is that the team pulled out the win.

The late-night home runs were especially sweet because it quieted the ridiculously large gathering of Red Sox fans at Coors Field. The cheers that David Ortiz and others were receiving when they stepped to the plate was sickening for anyone cheering for the Rockies.

The arrogance of the fans supporting Boston at Coors Field has been ridiculous. Very few venues would allow fans to blatantly disrespect their hometown team, especially when a guy who has been having the season that Jimenez is having is on the hill. Wins like Wednesday night's certainly will have some Denver residents shedding their red and white in favor of black, purple and silver.

How good has Jimenez been? Even with his six earned runs in 5-2/3 innings on Wednesday, the right handers ERA sits at a ridiculously low 1.60. The six runs that he gave up constitutes nearly 50 percent of the runs that he had given up heading into the game.

The Rockies go for the sweep on Thursday night with their hottest pitcher on the mound. Jason Hammel has a chance at breaking Jimenez's scoreless innings streak. If he can get into the fifth inning without giving up a run, the record will be his. The Red Sox send Daiskue Matsuzaka to the mound, fresh off of the disabled list. If the Rockies can pull off the sweep, it will go a long way to jump starting their run to the top of the NL West. They currently sit four games back of the Padres and have a three game set with them next week.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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