When Troy Tulowitzki hit third base and kept on going, scoring from first base on a Ty Wigginton bloop single to give the Colorado Rockies a 3-2 victory in 13 innings against the Chicago White Sox, it was time for a celebration, but an odd one.
Scoring from first doesn't always happen on a line drive into the gap, let alone a blooper to center field. However, White Sox centerfielder Brent Lillibridge was playing deep, guarding against a ball in the gap, then didn't hustle to pick up the ball that Wigginton had softly hit, and Tulowitzki simply kept on going. Lillibridge's throw seemed unprepared, and the Rockies first walk-off win of the season was in the books.
The Rockies were in desperate need for a good start to an important six-game homestand. The club is now one game over .500 at Coors Field, a figure that wouldn't have been good enough for even the horrible Rockies teams of the early 2000's. This homestand needs to be one in which they go 5-1, or 4-2 at worst the re-establish their home dominance.
On a perfectly hot summer night at the ballpark, Jason Hammel and Gavin Floyd were locked in a pitcher's duel early on. Both pitchers had thrown less than 30 pitches through three innings of work, with Hammel being the only one to surrender a run, a solo shot from Alexi Ramirez.
The Rockies, however, were able to get two runs across the board, thanks to Seth Smith, who singled in Todd Helton in the fourth inning, then hit a deep sacrifice fly to score Chris Nelson in the sixth. That was good enough to keep the game tied, the bullpen did their part, with scoreless innings from Matt Belisle, Huston Street, Matt Reynolds, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Lindstrom, and finally Rex Brothers, who picked up his first Major League win.
The bullpen combined to pitch six scoreless innings, surrendering only two hits and walking only one White Sox batter. That type of work is what is needed to give an offense a chance to put something together to win an extra inning game.
Before the game Jim Tracy said that it is not imperative for his team to make a run before the All-Star break, that they just need to maintain ground. That sounds great, and that takes pressure off of the club, but the reality is, the road looks quite a bit shorter if they can go into the All-Star break down by just two or three games in the division, rather than five.
At some point, the sense of urgency needs to kick in, and the Rockies need to not waste anymore time sitting in the hole that they dug for themselves in May.
Tuesday night was a great start for that goal. The team pitched phenomenally, including Hammel twice pulling a Houdini act and getting double plays to end White Sox rallies. The team didn't exactly crush the ball at the plate, but found ways to get the little things done when they needed it to happen. Smith's sixth inning sacrifice fly being the perfect example. Instead of trying to get a base hit, or crush a home run, Smith simply hit the ball deep enough into the outfield to score the run.
Doing the little things right is going to be the first step for the Rockies to climb back into contention. Good pitching from the bullpen and timely, fundamental hitting is a step in the right direction.