Colorado Rockies win longest-ever game at Coors Field
July 5, 2010
Finally, after the lights had come on, the second seventh-inning stretch had passed and their list of wasted opportunities couldn’t possibly grow any longer, the Rockies decided to go home and celebrate what was left of the Fourth of July.
Thanks to Dexter Fowler.
Fowler is back, and with a vengeance, after a month-long stay in the minor leagues. He tripled to lead off the bottom of the 15th inning Sunday and scored the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants in a game that lasted a Coors Field- record 5 hours, 24 minutes.
“It’s hard to even remember the guy who was attempting to hit in the manner in which he was, going back to even last year,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “That’s how smooth-looking his swing is. It’s a completely different hitter.”
Fowler reached base an astounding seven consecutive times, twice via triples, to put an exclamation point on the most productive series of his career: 10-for-16, seven runs, four triples and a double, a surge that jumped his average to .245 from .204.
And to think, he was trying to put the pieces together in Colorado Springs less than a week ago. Stuff happens when you hit .158 with no extra-base hits, as Fowler did in May before the Rockies mercifully sent him down to escape the heat.
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Fowler has tweaked his approach at the plate, lowering his hands considerably, but it’s more than that.
“I’ve got to go in there and just relax,” Fowler said. “That’s a big part of it. I was pressing. You’ve got to try to relax. That’s huge, especially at the plate.”
Fowler wasn’t the only hero on this Fourth of July. Esmil Rogers, making his best case yet for a permanent home in the bullpen, pitched four scoreless innings. Then there’s Jason Hammel, who pitched seven scoreless innings before a three-pitch nightmare in the eighth that ended with two home runs.
Nate Schierholtz hit one on a curveball that caught too much of the plate.
The other, well, we’ll let Hammel describe it.
“A one-handed, one-arm swing leaves the yard, and a 29-hopper comes around for another run,” Hammel said. “If that doesn’t happen, that game is over three hours ago.”
OK, so Hammel was exaggerating. But Andres Torres’ inside-the-park home run began as a groundball past Jason Giambi. Unfortunately for Hammel, it also skipped past a lunging Ryan Spilborghs in right field.
The game was tied at 3-3 from the eighth inning on. By the time it ended, lightning was crackling, the sky was pouring and half of the crowd of 35,274 had left the building.
So who drove in the game- winner? Todd Helton, who had stranded five runners in his previous two at-bats before driving a flyball to left field that scored Fowler.
It was the last of three consecutive bases-loaded situations for the Rockies, who went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded a franchise-record 20 runners. Helton had taken a called third strike with the bases loaded two innings earlier and had hit into an inning-ending double play in the 11th after Carlos Gonzalez was intentionally walked.
“It was good to get it over with,” Helton said. “If you keep getting put in that situation enough, you’re bound to come through sooner or later.”
Jim Armstrong: 303-954-1269 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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