The Coors Effect

July 10, 2009 10:22 AM

Atkins hits game-winner, Rockies extend streak

Reading back through some of the game threads at Purple Row back in May, you might have thought that Garrett Atkins was the second coming of Rey Ordonez, a hitter so punchless that his presence in the starting lineup seemed to mean a guaranteed 0-for-4 from one of the spots in the lineup.

And, to be fair, Atkins was awful in the month of May.  He hit .148 with just one extra-base hit in the month.  Former manager Clint Hurdle made matters worse by continuing to play him most days and bat him in the middle of the order.  (Again in the spirit of fairness, Hurdle's other option at third, Ian Stewart, wasn't much better: he hit .141, although six of his nine hits went for extra bases.)  But while the lack of hits and especially the lack of extra-base power were distressing, Atkins continued to draw walks, and it's not like he was suddenly striking out a ton.

But Atkins turned things around in June as he hit .327.  By then, though, Stewart had taken over playing third most days.  May and, to a lesser extent, April weigh down his overall numbers, but Atkins has morphed into a competent hitter off the bench since the beginning of June.

In May, seeing Atkins at the plate with two on and two out in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth would have induced near cardiac arrest in many Rockies fans.  But last night, Atkins came through in the clutch, delivering a sharp grounder down the third-base line that scored both runners and ultimately led to a 7-6 Rockies win.

So all hail Garrett Atkins, and all hail the Rockies, who won their fourth in a row and kept pace with the Giants (who also won.)  The Wild Card is developing into a two-horse race between the Rockies and the Giants.

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