Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dexter Fowler ends marathon game with walk off winner

Dexter Fowler pulled through for the Colorado Rockies on Saturday evening. On the third pitch of his 14th inning at bat against the Dodgers Blake Hawksworth, Fowler singled to left field, plating Mark Ellis, who had nearly ended the game one at bat earlier, with what turned out to be a two-out double to the right-center gap.

With third place in the National League West on the line for the Colorado Rockies, the team potentially gutted out their biggest win of this disappointing season.

Finally, the Rockies didn't quit when they got behind. All too often in 2011, when the defense gives up a few runs early, the team's offense has given up, packing in the bats and hoping for a better day later in the season.

Instead, after the Dodgers scored two runs in the 12th inning, looking like they had wrapped up the game, the Rockies fought back and scored two runs of their own.

The first of those runs came when birthday boy Todd Helton showed that despite being 38-years old, he still knows how to work an at bat. Before doubling for the 552nd time in what should be a Hall-of-Fame career, Helton absolutely wore out Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra. The 15th, that's right, 15th pitch of the at-bat resulted in the RBI double.

If Vin Scully were watching from the Dodgers booth, he undoubtedly would have rattled off the number of times that he had seen a 15-pitch at-bat, but there are probably fewer than 20 times he has seen that in all of his years of calling Major League Baseball games.

Helton's double was followed by an RBI groundout on, ironically, the first pitch of the at-bat to pinch hitter Eliezer Alfonso. the game was suddenly tied, and the Rockies had overcome their inability to come from behind when it mattered most.

Fowler's walk-off is a significant step for the once-promising young star. There is no doubt that the center fielder has kept a positive attitude through the ups-and-downs of his career. Despite being sent down to Triple-A twice over the past two seasons, Fowler has pressed through. His game is still unrefined, but his ability to come up with the big hit on Saturday is a testament to his character.

As good as it was for Fowler, the at-bat from the 38-year old Helton set the tone for the game. It may be Troy Tulowitzki's clubhouse, but make no mistake, it is still Todd Helton's team.

If there is still a reason to go to Coors Field the rest of the season, it is to see the tail-end of a phenomenal career from Helton. Many Denver fans missed out on the opportunity to see Helton at his finest because the Rockies were in the midst of rebuilding. Those fans missed out on a great chance to see the game played the way that it was meant to be played.

There are only a couple of years left to see that player. He may not be the 2000 version of himself, but he still is a dominant bat at the plate and the best first base glove in the game.

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