Thursday night in the bottom of the 10th inning versus the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado hit a shot to right field that looked like the rookie’s first career walk off hit. A hop skip and fist pump was quickly shut down as the ball was swallowed by Padres right fielder Will Venable ending the inning. Colorado lost the game in the 12th inning.
Fast-forward 24 hours. Facing Padres’ LHP Joe Thatcher with no one on, no outs and the game locked at nine apiece, the opportunity again came knocking. Arenado would capitalize. The rookie crushed a 1-1 pitch deep into the Colorado night sky. This time the ball would be swallowed by the Coors Field left field stands giving the Rockies the victory on Arenado’s first career walk-off home run.
Arenado was the storyline of Friday night, and not simply because of his work from the plate.
Had you quit watching this game following the sixth inning, you would be surprised to know the Rockies needed a last inning long ball to secure the victory. The top of the seventh began with the Rockies leading by five runs. The top of the seventh would later end with the Rockies and Padres tied at nine.
As bad as this may sound, Colorado was fortunate to give up only nine to San Diego.
With boos equivalent to the intensity of a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm raining down on struggling Rob Scahill and later Josh Outman and bases juiced in the 7th, Arenado robbed Carlos Quentin of a certain base hit saving, at the very least, one run.
It would be the second time on the night Arenado would deprive San Diego of runs. Earlier in the game Arenado had an acrobatic snag of a ground ball and subsequently gunned the speedy Cameron Maybin at first saving two runs.
Arenado has been a solid glove all season, and only gets better with each new game. Watching the Rockies’ newly aquired “Secretary of Defense” at third base reminds one of a younger Troy Tulowitzki. Add the two together and it basically means don’t hit the ball to the left side of the field if you hope to reach versus Colorado.
Speaking of the left side, this victory came at a price for Colorado. Carlos Gonzalez left the game in the seventh after rolling an ankle during his sixth-inning at bat. This coming one night after right fielder Michael Cuddyer injured his knee. If these two guys aren’t the Rockies’ heart and soul, they are most certainly part of the equation. Losing them for any extended period would be devastating. Not only would Colorado lose the offense and solid gloves, they would lose the leadership both provide.
Game three of the four-game series with San Diego will be Saturday night in Colorado.