I've been attending baseball games since I've been 5 years old but last night's game between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres was among the most exciting I've attended. The Rockies and Padres needed last night's tiebreaker to decide the NL wild card, which goes to the division runner-up with the best record, after finishing the regular season with 89-73 records. Their game was only the 7th tiebreaker in Major League Baseball history. Colorado faced likely Cy Young winner, Jake Peavy, but the Rockies came out swinging in the first inning. Not to be undone, the Padres Adrian Gonzalez's hit a grand slam off Rockies starting pitcher Josh Fogg, giving the Padres a 4-3 lead in the 3rd inning.
With the Rockies leading 6-5 in the seventh, Atkins appeared to homer over the left-field fence. The ball caromed off an empty wheelchair back onto the field, but was ruled a double. Colorado did not score, and San Diego tied the game at 6-6 on a Giles double in the eighth.
The Padres had plenty of chances to win it in extra innings, putting two men on the 10th and 11th and one in the 12th against reliever Matt Herges without scoring. The Rockies stranded two in the 11th when lefty Joe Thatcher struck out Brad Hawpe, the Rockies' hottest hitter the last two weeks, whom the Padres had already intentionally walked twice.
After San Diego took a two-run lead on Scott Hairston's homer in the top of the 13th, the Rockies rallied for three runs off Trevor Hoffman, the major league career saves leader, for a dramatic 9-8 victory that sent the crowd into a frenzy. "You can't point to any other factor than my performance,'' said Hoffman, baseball's leader in saves with 524."That's a burden I'm going to have to deal with.'' Hoffman gave up doubles to Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki, a triple to Matt Holliday, an intentional walk to Todd Helton and then a game-winning sacrifice fly to Colorado's Jamey Carroll.
The Rockies finished their last 15 games 14-1, only the 1960 New York Yankees finished better at 15-0, only to end up losing the World Series. Matt Holiday had a huge September, batting .367 with 12 homers, 30 RBI and 29 run scored. Equally effective in the late rush was Hawpe, who hit .467 with 20 RBI in the last 11 games, and Todd Helton .386 hitter in the final 14 games will finally get a taste at the post season. The Rockies bullpen, which has been their achilles heal in recent memory was much improved this year(2.49 ERA, .212 opponents average), and outstanding defense also keyed the Rockies' run. The Rockies committed a major league-low 68 errors and accrued the best fielding percentage of any team in major league history (.98925, slightly better than the 2006 Red Sox.)
America's pastime is better than ever and I cannot wait for the playoffs!
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