Last season, after a dismal, DISMAL start to the season, the Rox finally started putting things together around the All-Star break, and played some pretty good baseball over the second half of the season. During that second half, ever the suppliers of glass-is-half-full sentiment, we made a big purple banner that we brought to the games with us. The sign read: BEST LAST PLACE TEAM IN BASEBALL. It was something we took seriously, especially when the Rox took on another last place ball club from one of the other divisions. It was something we truly believed was true. It was extra sweet when the Rox would play a first place club like the Cardinals. We’d sit in the left field seats at Coors Field just waiting for the Rox to score, and when they did, we’d bust out the sign and taunt the stupid Cardinals and their stupid, Midwest, road-trippin’, Budweiser drinkin’ fans.
Well, we have tickets to the Rox/Padres game tonight, and with the Rox trailing 6-0 yesterday, and then 8-3, my fiancee, her father and I had an in depth conversation about whether or not we should bring our BEST LAST PLACE TEAM IN BASEBALL sign. If the Rox lost, they would have dropped to 7.5 games out, and technically wouldn’t have been in last–they would have been a half game ahead of the free-falling Dodgers, but they point is, we had the conversation. Oh, we of little faith.
YORVIE TO THE RESCUE
The other banner we made last year reads: LODO MOJO. And maybe that’s the sign we should bring tonight because that’s exactly what the Rox had working for them last night. In the 9th inning, after Matt Holliday grounded into a double play, things seemed grim. It seemed as though the Rox would drop another one. Two outs in the 9th, down by two, Todd Helton singled off of Trevor Hoffman.
Yorvit Torrealba strode to the plate. The Rox catcher has been hot as of late, hitting .339 over the last month with 3HR and 17 RBI, earning him a promotion in the Rox line-up from 7th to 6th. Good move, Clint Hurdle, good move. Torreabla jumped all over a first-pitch Hoffman fastball–shades of the All-Star game, Trevor?–and smacked a no-doubt-about-it homer into the left field cheap seats. The very same cheap seats my butt will be in tonight–without the BEST LAST PLACE TEAM IN BASEBALL banner.
Torrealba’s two-run blast sent the game to extra frames, and gave the Rox new life in a game they’d trailed since the first inning. In the 10th, Fuentes pitched a scoreless frame, setting up a tremendous walk-off victory. Choo Freeman, fresh off the bench and pinch-hitting for Fuentes, roped a double into the left field corner with one out. Victory seemed to be in the Rox grasp, with speed on second, and Jamey Carroll walking to the plate.
Carroll came through, yet again, with a single to right. Padres’ RF Brian Giles fielded the ball cleanly and chucked a strike to catcher Rob Bowen. Freeman came streaking around third, and the throw had him beat dead-to-rights, but Choo made a quick deak, diving under the tag and stealing a 9-8 come-from-behind victory for the boys of Denver.
HOW BIG WAS THIS WIN?
Instead of 7.5 games out of first, the Rox are now 5.5 out and right back into the race. Despite getting a rare bad outing from Josh Fogg, the Rox got their struggling bats going, and their struggling bullpen back on track, picking up a win for closer Brian Fuentes, evening his record at 3-3.
The win puts the Rox right back in the hunt in the NL West. With Byun-Yun Kim heading to the hill tonight, the Rox can now pull within 4.5 games of first place, with the possibility of pulling 2.5 games of the Padres by the end of this series. Rox fans, it’s time to believe that the glass really is half-full.
BRAD HAWPE DIVE WATCH: 240 games
Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.