With the Rockies down 9-3 heading into the 9th inning on Tuesday, the majority of the 32,922 fans found their way to the exits. There was no way the Rockies were coming back.
There was no way the Rockies could possibly win the game...except they did.
Colorado scored an amazing nine runs in the 9th inning. The rally included four straight hits and was capped off by a three-run walk off home run from none other than Seth Smith, known to Rockies fans as Mr. Late Night.
The fans who did stay made their voices heard. Chants of "Let's Go Rockies" echoed throughout Coors Field, even with the club down by six runs.
After Dexter Fowler hit a double off of the out-of-town scoreboard, suddenly it looked like anything could happen. After Brad Hawpe grounded out, Carlos Gonzalez hit a sharp single to right field, scoring Fowler. Next, Jason Giambi showed why he just might have been worth the roster spot that the Rockies gave him in January when he lined a pitch to right field. It looked like the Rockies would have the tying run at third base, but Randy Winn twice bobbled the ball in right field and third base coach Rich Dauer never hesitated, he sent Gonzalez to the plate and suddenly the game was tied.
Aaron Cook came into the game to pinch run for Giambi, as Miguel Olivo stepped to the plate. The catcher lined his second base hit of the inning, putting the winning run at third base with no one out. Seth Smith, who had been robbed of a hit earlier in the inning by Albert Pujols, made sure no one could rob him of a second at-bat. He lined a 2-2 pitch deep to right field and into the second row of seats. The celebration was on. Smith raced to the plate to embrace his teammates.
While Smith is the hero of the night, he had help in overcoming a six-run deficit. Two players, both of whom have been harshly criticized, did their part to help the club win.
Chris Iannetta, who entered the game in the 7th inning and stayed in defensively at third base, drove in four runs on the night, three coming in one huge swing of the bat in the 9th. With two runners on and a run in, Iannetta worked an 0-2 count into a 2-2 count and turned a fastball into a line drive home run.
The other hero that will not be seen in the highlights is Manny Corpas. The Panamanian, relegated back to long relief, pitched two brilliant innings in what seemed to be mop-up duty. Instead of hanging his head, Corpas found a way to battle through his struggles and get guys to hit ground balls again. Those scoreless innings proved to be just what the Rockies needed, and gave kept them just close enough to win the ball game.
Wins like Tuesday night's cannot be understated. It would have been easy for the Rockies to pack up their equipment and wait for tomorrow. A six-run lead in the 9th inning is essentially already a win for the opposition. There is no need to keep fighting.
This club, however, is proving once again that a game is never over, and more specifically, a season is never over until they are actually eliminated from the standings. For all of the Rockies early season scoring issues, for all of their defensive struggles, for all of the injuries that they have battled, they have emerged as a contender. And beyond being a contender, they are suddenly the team in the National League with the most momentum, the team that no one wants to play.
While many people already wrote the Rockies off a long time ago, they never wrote themselves off. They are proving to everyone who doubted them that this is indeed the team that everyone expected to see. This is the team that is capable of winning its first ever National League crown.
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