Game 8: Colorado Rockies
So to our second game in a row featuring the Diamondbacks we made our way to Coors Field. The field is in an area that the locals call “LoDo” which is short for lower downtown in Denver, Colorado. From our motel we took a leisurely 30 minute stroll to the downtown area. We went passed well-appointed park and river areas that made really made us feel at home. In the bright heat it also made us feel hot and thirsty so we stopped into McCormick’s Hotel, within spitting distance of Coors Field (if you are that way inclined). I felt it would be rude not to stop there, in tribute of the great Canterbury rugby icon Fergie.
While having a cold one I got chatting to a bloke called Tom. He had played minor league ball in the Cincinnati organisation. He said that he had enjoyed playing a kids game while getting paid or it. Tom said that he played centre infield and I checked for clarification. It meant either shortstop or second base. He explained that he preferred shortstop as this man was usually the fielding “captain”. He said that it was also a more challenging position to play, because with most batters being right handers, and shortstop fielding in a position between second and third base to righties, you got the full force of the swing – i.e. he was not swinging inside out to hit the ball in that direction. Also most batters hit on top of the ball, so shortstop also had topspin to contend with as it affected the bounce of the ball. My baseball education is continuing.
While the Rockies begun in Mile High Stadium, which they shared with the Denver Broncos NFL team, in 1995 they moved into the baseball only facility of Coors Field. Originally the park was planned to accommodate an intimate 41,000 when it opened it actually had more than 50,000 seats. This was in response to the clubs huge popularity during its preceding two years of existence at Mile High Stadium. The red brick façade blends in nicely with the urban setting that the ballpark sits in. An asymmetrical playing field was also part of the design as a throwback to the playing fields of old. The playing field is actually 21 feet below the street level but 5,280 feet above sea level. There is a row of purple seats in the upper deck that marks the one mile high plateau.
Because the Colorado Rockies did not give us tickets, I decided to experiment by purchasing the cheapest ones available. For a handy four dollars I picked up tickets to the top tier of a stand that they refer to as the Rockpile. Very high – think Millard Stand at the old Athletic Park in Wellington, but plank style bleachers, think number five stand at the old Lancaster Park in Christchurch. You know what I mean. From the top we were able to pick up nice views of down town Denver. Later on we actually manoeuvred around to an area above first base which afforded us fantastic vistas of the Rocky Mountains.
Like the Diamondbacks the Colorado outfit are also struggling in the same division and are in fact a game behind Arizona. So I am not expecting too much quality, but in the rarefied atmosphere I am anticipating some offence.
Arizona Diamondbacks………..000 011 142 – 9
Colorado Rockies ………………...210 010 030 – 7
It is a truism in baseball that the team that scores the first run of a game wins on 64% occasions. The Rockies took the 36% option today. The game was played in beautiful conditions and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. We were in the minority however. The game took four hours to complete and the traditionalists say that this is much too slow. I prefer to get bang for my buck, so four hours entertainment for the measly cost of four dollars (plus a few Coors Lights – at a reasonably priced seven and a half dollars) and I am in my element.
The Rockies begun nicely with Marco Scutaro walking on the first four pitches that Colorado received on the day and was bought in by a dinger from local hero Troy Tulowowitzki. This was consolidated on it the second innings when Tyler Colvin scored on a well struck triple by Dexter Fowler. Up three nil the home team had to be feeling comfortable – I were they feeling complacent? Although the Diamondbacks only struck back with one in the top of the fifth, the reason for the run was ominous. Aaron Hill was walked on a full count and then got to two of his bases on wild pitches before being hit in by an infield single to Willie Bloomquist. The Rockies pitching was beginning to show some chinks in its armour.
The Rockies though once again bounced back to restore their three run buffer in the bottom of the fifth with a well hit solo home run to third baseman Jordan Pacheco. From here though the game turned. Jason Kubel scored a lone run at the top of the seventh but in the eighth the real carnage begun. With one out Parra was given a base on balls. On a wild pitch by the fourth reliever Brothers Parra moved to second and then a single by the inform Bloomquist bought Parra home. Bloomquist stole second and Upton was walked. Kubel singled which bought Bloomquist home. Paul Goldschmidt singled and this allowed Upton to come home and on a Ryan Roberts hit the scoring for the innings was completed when Kubel scored. 7-4 Diamondbacks and surely that was it.
Colorado again showed their mettle with a gutsy three run comeback to level the scores going into the ninth. Carlos Gonzalez singled and was moved around to third by a strategically used pinch hitter, Jason Giambi, who earned his pay. Todd Helston also got a hit and when Fowler was walked, Conzalez strolled home. An error by Roberts allowed Helston to score and a Scutaros walk enabled Eric Young, who was pinch running for pinch hitting Giambi, to score the tying run. Another pinch hitter, Wilin Rosario was unsuccessfully used to end the innings. I had to pinch myself to believe this – as the game was level.
Parra this time was not walked, but he succeeded in hitting the ball well when he hit a hard double to right field. Upton iced the game with a big dinger on a 1-2 count and it was game, set and match – thank you umpire thank you ball boys.
The purists were left seething and the respective coaching staffs were left wondering. Kitty and I reminisced on a fine day out at a fine ball park with great company as we meandered back to our motel via a couple of strategically placed watering holes.