The rookie in his first extended stay for the Rockies made the comeback happen.
Coming off the bench on a double switch with two outs in the top half the ninth down two while riding a four game hit streak, and a .556 batting average over those 18 plate appearances, Tapia nabbed a hit to extend his hitting streak in his only at-bat.
Facing one of the game’s best closers in Mark Melancon the left-handed hitting Tapia went down 1-2 then fouled the next two pitches off. It’s the second foul ball that created the lasting image.
In his patented two strike crouch Tapia sent an 83 mph knuckle-curve that bounced out of play. The protect was odd in many facets. It’s understandable for a hitter to be so fooled by one of the game’s best arm’s but Tapia’s reaction wasn’t bewilderment.
He’s nodding his head up and down, like ‘yep, I saw that, I got that, yup I’m on that.’ As if he didn’t just swing at a ball that BOUNCED.
I was thinking to myself at the time, ‘how does this kid think he’s on this.’
The next pitch he blooped over second base for a single which brought the tying run in Charlie Blackmon to the plate.
“My approach with two strikes is that it’s war time,” Tapia said through a translating Tony Diaz, the Rockies first base coach. “It’s war time between me and the pitcher. I’m going to put my best swing on it, foul it off, walk or get on any way that I can.”
Blackmon singled and Tapia moved from first to third. He scored on DJ LeMahieu‘s fist-pump inducing single that moved Blackmon to third and brought Arenado to the plate to leave his mark on Rockies history.
“The way I felt after they took that lead in the ninth inning is that something special would happen because we never quit,” Tapia said. “When I got on I knew Melancon was paying attention to me and that was the whole propose of me taking my big lead to make him worry about me.”