DENVER - "Weird Baseball" is defined as baseball that takes place after midnight. This game would be more accurately described as "Bizarre Baseball."
After a two-hour-plus rain delay, eleven innings, 23 hits, 10 pitching changes and strokes of luck on both sides, the Wild Card-chasing Colorado Rockies beat the MLB-best Chicago Cubs 7-6 on a puzzling walk off.
This game started late. Finished REALLY late. The Rockies changed their first baseman just before first pitch and put him in the outfield. The rain that plagued Coors Field almost turned to snow as the temperature dropped below 50 in the middle of the summer. A run scored when pitcher Kyle Hendricks missed home plate but neither Nick Hundley nor Tyler Anderson noticed before he coyly tiptoed back to touch it. Matt Carisiti got his first win when it looked like he cost the team the game. Anderson's worst outing of his career might also have been his best. And veteran Ryan Raburn walked the home nine off winners after playing several innings of first base.
All of this came in the shadow of the Rockies calling up top pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman to start Saturday, which is today since the game ended after midnight.
"It was a good one, strange night all around, long delay, playing late into the night, but that's typical of this team, get down and we fight our way back," Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss said following the game.
The one thing that wasn't strange was Tyler Anderson pitching well, expect he didn't, or he did. Let me explain. Anderson allowed five runs on eight hits and a walk, which is not good. But he did strike out eight and make it through seven innings. And just one inning after he exited the game the score was tied.
"I feel like, at Coors Field, we're starting to learn that if you give up runs you gotta stay in the game because we are gonna score eventually," Anderson told BSN Denver. "That's just the mentality of the staff here. If we give some up and we get hit early, we just gotta stay in there and keep fighting."
"I consider that a great start by Tyler," Weiss said postgame. "He executed pitches all night, I felt like he very easily could've gone seven innings and given up one run tonight. But they hit some good pitches, that's a tough lineup. I really like the way he executed pitches and [bent] but didn't break, it kept us in the game."
Even with the score tied, from this observer's view, it didn't look like the Rockies would pull tonight's out considering the opponent. But even down four, they had other plans in mind.
"We were down 5-1," Weiss reviewed. "To work your way back against that club and that closer, that's tough to do."
Dexter Fowler welcomed himself back to Coors Field with a bang in the first. Knocking a leadoff homer. But, rookie David Dahl, who was making his debut in center field answered with a leadoff homer of his own.
It was the first leadoff homer by a Colorado Rockie not named Charlie Blackmon since Dexter Fowler on June 2, 2013, vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cubs were back at it again in the third in the fifth scoring a run in each. In both frames MVP candidate Kris Bryant singled.
In the sixth things got a little iffy for Tyler Anderson as a leadoff single to Anthony Rizzo turned into a two-run homer by Addison Russell.
Showing faith in his rookie, though, Walt Weiss put Anderson back out in the seventh and threw a clean inning. At the time, it seemed like just a footnote that he threw seven and that he struck out a career-high eight. But his work proved to be just good enough.
In the seventh, Daniel Descalso took reliever Travis Wood for a double and he came around on Kris Bryant error with Nick Hundley at the plate.
The eighth came and boy did it go. With a leadoff single by the pinch-hitting Cristian Adames, Dahl followed with a single and LeMahieu drove in one with a double. Next was Carlos Gonzalez, he scored one with a groundout and Nolan Arenado tied it with a sacrifice fly that LeMahieu just beat the throw in.
No more scoring happened until the eleventh when a Wilson Contreras single followed by a four-pitch two-out walk to Ben Zobrist gave Fowler another shot. He didn't blow it, giving the Cubs a 6-5 lead.
But it would not be over despite Aroldis Chapman closing against the bottom of the Rockies order. Nick Hundley singled and then came Raburn, who pitch hit earlier and stayed in at first base. Raburn swung out of his shoes twice on Chapman sliders expecting fastballs. After an errant speeder went by Raburn at 102 the vet was ready.
"He's got good stuff," Raburn conceded postgame. I was fortunate he gave me a good enough pitch I could put the bat on. I was surprised he started me off with two sliders. Especially as hard as he throws."
He put that bat on the ball which put that ball on the wall, easily scoring Hundley who was on his horse. The relay throw from Javier Baez to try to get Hundley at the plate eluded Contreras and somehow ended up in the Cubs dugout, meaning Raburn, who had already rounded second was assumed third and awarded home. Giving the Rockies a 7-6 win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Before his final at-bat, the Rockies were going to lose, after his final at-bat, the Rockies had won.
"That's a big-time hit," Weiss said it all.
BY THE NUMBERS:
4 - The Rockies are four games under .500.
30.2 - Adam Ottavino has pitched 30.2 innings since Sept., 7, 2014 across 37 games, and hasn't allowed a run.
2:10 - That's how long the rain delay was.
11:30 - BSN Denver was at Coors Field for 11 hours and 30 minutes today.
43,950 - At Coors Field Friday, it was the fifth largest crowd of the season.
Rockies top pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman is set to make his MLB debut Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. It's a 6:10 p.m. MT start and LHP Mike Montgomery (1-1, 3.12) will make his first start for Chicago after being primary a bullpen piece since his acquisition from Seattle.