The Coors Effect

July 12, 2009 11:39 PM

Braves mistakes lead to Rockies win

One play in the seventh inning summed up today's game between the Rockies and the Braves.

In a game that the Rockies trailed, 7-3, Clint Barmes hit a bleeder that got between the shortstop and third baseman for a base hit.  With nothing to lose in a game that seemed out of reach, Dexter Fowler decided to make the Braves make a play, never slowing down as he rounded second base toward third.  Garret Anderson's attempt to throw him out couldn't have gone worse: the throw got past the third baseman and bounced toward the dugout.  Fowler ran for home -- and Braves pitcher Manny Acosta made another throwing error.  Barmes got all the way to third on the play.

The Rockies still trailed by three runs, but the momentum immediately shifted sharply in the Rockies' favor.  Seth Smith, whose day to that point had consisted of a flyout and two rally-killing double plays, suddenly forgot about that and belted the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for a two-run homer.

Suddenly, the Rockies were back in the game -- and the Braves appeared dead.  Ryan Spilborghs tied the game with a run-scoring double in the eighth, and nearly gave the Rockies the lead, but Chris Iannetta was thrown out at the plate.  A Brad Hawpe RBI double in the ninth -- scoring Seth Smith from first -- was the final dagger in the Braves' hearts.

While it's not that encouraging to allow the other team to beat themselves, in a game that the Rockies needed -- with the Giants currently losing to San Diego, it was a chance to gain ground in the wild card standings; and of course, it's always better to go into the All-Star Break with momentum from a win, much better than heading into the break on a three-game losing streak -- there were positive signs.  After usual starter Jorge de la Rosa left the game, the bullpen not only didn't surrender a run over five innings; the bullpen didn't even surrender a hit.  Huston Street got the win after pitching a scoreless ninth.  For a relief unit that's been much maligned of late, the recent signs are encouraging.  The Rockies' starters haven't been giving the bullpen many leads to protect in recent days, but the 'pen today stopped the bleeding and made the comeback possible.

And All-Star Brad Hawpe, of course, justified that honor (not that it was really necessary) with a homer and the game-winner.  Seth Smith went from goat to hero over the course of the game.  Today's Rockies win wasn't spectacular; but, with the possible specter of a three-game losing streak heading into the All-Star Break hanging over the team, I'll take it.

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