No place like HOME 07/14/2010Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: all star game, cobie caillat, god bless america, mlb, national league, nl wins
add a comment Finally!!
After 13 years. For the first time since the game decided home field advantage for the World Series, the National League won the All Star Game. As a NL fan, I am ecstatic today. I have always rooted for the NL in the midsummer classic. The win has extra meaning for me as one of the teams that I follow in the NL is assured the advantage should they reach the World Series.
Do not misunderstand me. I HATE the rule. I think it was much more fair to shift the advantage between the leagues every other year, but, hey, the rule iswhat it is and the advantage has been taken by the NL for the first time. As All Star games go, it was a fairly good one. To accommodate TV, game time was too early for a west coast site. (The game was played in Anaheim, California.) The shadows gave the pitchers a great advantage for the first half of the game. Not that these all-star pitchers needed any help. Once started, the game zipped right along. The AL scored its only run with an unearned tally in the fifth inning. Atlanta catcher Brian McCann struck a bases loaded double to plate all 3 NL runs in the seventh. That was it for the scoring. The NL had won the game for the first time since Bill Clinton was re-elected for a second term.
The Midsummer Classic is still the best of all of the All Star Games played. With a season that encapsulates Memorial Day, Independence Day and Memorial Day, and traditions that include ball park hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks, as well as the singing of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch (see Cobie Caillat’s All Star Version HERE: http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=9915105 ), Baseball is still America’s Pastime.
Rocky Mountain Cy 05/04/2010Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: colorado rockies, cy young award, mlb, ubaldo jimenez
add a comment In the bizarro world that is Major League Baseball, perhaps the oddest event of all is that a pitching star has emerged in Colorado. The rarified air of Coors Field is the home of Ubaldo Jimenez. The home of the Blake Street Bombers and 15-13 games hosts one of the best pitchers in the game. You can’t pitch at altitude, right? I can hear the cries of unfair humidor advantage already! Jimenez threw the season’s first, and so far only, no-hitter at Atlanta on April 17th.
Just a fluke, right? Wrong. In his 3 starts since the no-hitter, he has gone 3-0, allowing only one run on 11 hits and 6 walks in 20 1/3 innings pitched. Oh, and he has struck out 24 batters over that stretch. He is 6-0 so far this season with an astonishing 0.87 ERA. He is a workhorse. In his no-hitter, he threw 128 pitches. He seemed to have lost nothing, however, as his last pitch was a 97 mph fastball. He has thrown 115 or more pitches in 4 of his six starts this season. The concern among the talking heads is that he is being used too much, but he topped that count 10 times last season, with an additional 11 starts of pitch counts between 105-114. He was 15-12 last season. Something clicked during the all-star break, however, because he went 9-3 after July 17th. He is 15-3 in his last 18 decisions. His current 6 game winning streak is the second such streak in this run.[The guy is filthy right now. He topped the 100 mph mark several times last night while setting his game career high of 13 strike outs. The only time he got in trouble, and had his 26 inning scoreless streak come to an end was when he went to the curveball too much. His sinker was simply untouchable again last night. He shows no signs of stopping any time soon. While he will not finish with an ERA under one, he is only the fifth pitcher in recent times to start 5-0 with a sub one ERA. Each of the other 4 won the Cy Young award. While it is too early to talk that award, especially with the likes of Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay in the National League, it is not to early to say that the NL pitcher of the month for April is off to an early lead. Rocky Mountain High may just become Rocky Mountain Cy.
Ubal-NO 04/18/2010Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: atlanta braves, colorado rockies, mlb, mlb baseball, no hitter, ubaldo jimenez
add a comment Like most things human, the game pitched by Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was far from perfect. Still, it was a masterpiece. Jimenez’s gem was only the 264th no-hitter in MLB history. 264 sounds like a lot. No big deal, really, untill you realize that there have been over 190,000 games played in MLB history.
Complain all you want about the 6 walks allowed, as if that somehow diminishes the accomplishment. Sure, the control was not there at the beginning. Still, this 26-year-old did something most pictures never do. Not one batter reached base safely via a batted ball. None. Nada. Center fielder Dexter Fowler made a tremendous catch in the 7th inning to save the feat. We have all seen that catch on highlight shows many times by now. If you didn’t actually watch the game, you may not know that Fowler also made a merely spectacular catch in the same inning. That will not diminish the feat. Almost all no-hitters have a key play or two that define the event. What many do not talk about is how Jimenez contributed to the game offensively. In the 4th inning, he came to the plate with two outs and two runners on. The Rockies were leading 1-0 at the time. He singled to center, driving in a run and advancing Ian Stewart from first to third, then took 2nd on the throw. That heads up base running play allowed him to score on Carlos Gonzalez’s double Instead of a 1-0 lead had he made an out, the Rockies finished the 4th, and the game for that matter, with a 4-0 lead. This game showed the ability of Jimenez.The thing is that the no-hitter came as no surprise to his teammates. Jimenez played a big role late in the 2007 season as the Rockies went on their mad run to the World Series. He won 15 games last season. To a man last night, including Manager Jim Tracey and long time Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, two old vets that are hard to impress, the Rockies talked about how they knew it would happen sooner or later for this guy. Some have been saying it since ’07. He has crazy good stuff. He consistently goes deep into games. He was in the top 5 in innings and pitches thrown in the NL last season. He makes it look effortless. In fact, his fastball was constantly hitting the speed gun at over 95 mph all night. The final pitch he threw was clocked at 98 mph. It was his 128th pitch of the evening! His teammates say he is a great guy. A real class act. One of the hardest workers on the team. As if to prove the point, did this guy rest on a job well done? Nope. There he was early Sunday morning, finishing his 6 mile run, just like he does after every start.
Congrats, Ubaldo! Keep that work ethic and this highlight is just a beginning for you. One thing is for sure. Ubaldo Jimenez is no longer one of the best pitchers that no one has heard of.
Opening Day 04/05/2010Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: baseball, chicago cubs, Eddie Vedder, mlb, Pearl Jam
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Baseball!! I found this via a Facebook friend linked from utube. It is Perfect, obviously, for Cub fans. But also for any baseball fan. I LOVE opening day. The Boys of Summer are BACK!!!
We want it NOW 10/30/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: baseball, instant replay, mlb, world series
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Instant Replay! Coming to a ballpark near you.
It has been a challenging post season for the men in blue. Almost every series, heck, almost every game has been marred by questionable calls by the umpiring crews.
You have obvious blown calls. (Two Yankees at third base, both tagged when they were off the base , yet one is called safe.) You have bang- bang plays. ( A line drive is caught at first base and the fielder fires to second, where the runner advancing from first is doubled off. Inning over. But replays show that the ball skipped off the dirt before it is caught by the first baseman. The inning should have continued.) Surely replay will solve the problems. But is that truly the case? In the cases described above, the errors would be easily corrected. They happened at the end of the play cycle, and no continuation is involved. Both of the Yankees are out in the first example. No problem. Neither player is out in the second example. When the runner was tagged at second, he was on the base. No force out at first. Aaah, but there is the problem. If the umpire had not signaled out when the ball was caught, would there have even been a throw at second, or would the first baseman assured an out by stepping on first base?
Unlike football, the game of baseball is fluid and decisions must be made on the spur of the moment. There is no statistic for fielders choice in football. In baseball, the choice a fielder makes is often dependent on the umpire’s call. Here is another example from the playoffs. The Phillies are in the field. A Rockies batter hits a line drive to left. The Phillies outfielder makes a running attempt to catch the fly, but he misses it and it lands. The umpire throws his hands up calling time and ending the play. Foul ball. Just a harmless strike. But replay shows that not only does the ball skim off the end of the fielder’s glove in fair territory, making it a fair ball, but the ball actually lands in fair territory then skips foul. Since the play stops when the umpire calls the ball foul, how is this situation resolved? How far would the runner have gotten? Should he be safe at first? Second? Did the ball get far enough away that he would have gotten to third? Who knows. Is there truly a fair way to resolve this example?
There are easy plays to review. Did the ball hit at the top of the wall, or did it hit out and come back? Was it a home run? Limited use of replay began during the playoffs
last season, and continued throughout the season this year, to resolve those types of decisions. But the call is intensifying to increase the use of replay. But that would be very difficult in baseball. Baseball is a game of split second decisions. How a play is called can impact how it is continued. I have already given you an example of that. Another problem is that the camera is two dimensional, while the game is three dimensional. On a bang-bang tag play at a base, it is often difficult to tell exactly when a tag is applied, as opposed to exactly when the runner touched the base. Sportscasters will tell you that they can tell, but try this. Watch a game on DirecTV and follow the aftermath of a controversal play on each team’s ‘home feed.’ You will be surprised how the exact same replays support the safe call on one network and the out call on the other network. Same replays, same umpire’s call. One says the call is right and the other says he is wrong.
Here is another problem. Baseball has always called the ‘neighborhood’ play, especially for the pivot of a double play. This is done for players safety. Often, the pivot man is not on the bag when he has the ball, but rather is close, or in the neighborhood. This is done to minimize collisions at second base between fielders and runners. Replay shows this. What will happen to the neighborhood play? If it goes away, will there be more injuries in the game? And then there is the strike zone. The rules state a single strike zone. But every umpire calls the zone the way he wants. There is no consistency from umpire to umpire. There often is no consistency from batter to batter by the same umpire in the same game. Most calls for the use of replay at this time say that it should not be used for calling balls and strikes. If it is not good enough to be used for this most basic part of the game, why should it be used for other parts of the game? The other question about use of replay is time and implementation. Is every play to be reviewed? Will there be a challenge process? MLB has made a concerted effort to speed up the game. Game times have been pushing past the 3 hour mark. Do we really need something to slow down the game? The bottom line is that replay in televised games show that the umpires get it right an incredible amount of the time.
Replay is progress. It is coming. In a limited way, it is here already. Replay will take all doubt out of the game. After all, when you watch an NFL game, you NEVER hear an announcer question the decision of the replay official, right?
Fresh Blood 10/21/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, NFL, nhl, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: coaching changes, colorado avalanche, colorado rockies, colorado sports scene, denver broncos, jim tracy, joe sacco, Josh mcdaniels, mlb, NFL, nhl
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It was a tough spring for Denver sports fans. With in the span of a few short weeks, 3 of the 4 major sports franchises that call the Mile High City their home fired their head coaches. The local sports scene seemed to be a mess. Now, not so much.
The NFL Broncos fired long time head coach Mike Shanahan and hired New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to lead this storied franchise. All McDaniels, a
first time head coach and one of the youngest NFL head coaches ever, had to do was to replace the only Super Bowl winning coach in Bronco History. Though 10 years removed, Shanahan had led Denver to 2 titles in 1998 and ’99. Replacing a popular head coach is never easy, and the tumultuous off season that greeted McDaniels is well chronicled. All seems forgiven now, as the Broncos head into their bye week with a 6-0 record and a strangle hold on the AFC West title. Those 6 wins double the season win total predicted by many pundits. Fans that were calling for McDaniel’s head before he even coached a game seem to now embrace him. All is well in Bronco Nation.
The axe fell on baseball’s Clint Hurdle after a rough beginning to the ’09 campaign. The Rockies were 10 games
under the .500 mark and going no where fast. Hurdle had struggled as the Rockies manager but did lead Colorado to the World Series in 2007, Colorado’s only appearance in the Fall Classic so far. A scant 19 months later he was gone, replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Tracy. Tracy had previously been a MLB manager, most notably in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. The Rockies took off shortly after Tracy took over the reigns and were in the NL West race right up to the last series of the season. While the Rockies failed to win the West, the improved Rockies played better than 30 games over .500 for Tracy and won the Wild Card playoff spot. The team finished with a franchise record 92 wins and finished with more wins than losses on the road for the first time ever. They made their third post season appearance in their short history, bowing to Philadelphia 3 games to one in the NLDS. The Rockies are attempting to sign Tracy to a long term contract at this time. The future looks bright for Rockies fans.
Colorado Avalanche coach Tony Granato’s second stint as the Avs head coach was a short one, just one season. After leading the
Avs to their worst record since the move to Denver in 1995, Granato was let go just a week after finishing a 32-45-5 campaign. Joe Sacco was promoted from the Av’s Lake Erie AHL affiliate to take over the Avalanche. Many predict a dismal season for the Avs, projecting them to again miss the playoffs. With a new goaltender and 2, yes 2, 18-year-old centers playing, this young team may have a long season ahead. But the start has been simply brilliant. The Avalanche enter their game in Minnesota as the top team in the Western Conference. The 6-1-1 start is all the more impressive when you factor in the fact that all but 2 of the games have been played on the road. It is too early to tell what will happen with this young team, but the fans are back and there is an excited buzz among Colorado hockey faithful.
What a difference a few months can make. Three head coaching changes and all 3 seemed to have worked out. Throw in the fact that the NBA Nuggets made the Western Conference finals last season and it seems that winning teams abound in Denver.
Remembering an Angel 09/30/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: american league, angels, celebration, chamoionship, los angeles angels of anaheim, loyalty, mlb, Nick Adenheart, teammates
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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim defeated the Texas Rangers 11-0 Monday night. With the win, the Angels clinched the American League
West Division title and punched their ticket to post season play. There was the traditional dog pile celebration at the center of the diamond. As with most championship celebrations, the players poured champagne and beer on each other in the clubhouse. During the revelry, something special happened. A jersey of fallen team mate Nick Adenhart was produced, and it, too, was doused with bubbly. The team also went, en mass, to the memorial banner of Adenheart on the center field wall of the ball park to celebrate with his memory and have a team photo taken.
Adenhart was a pitcher with the Angels at the beginning of the season. He had a career record in the Majors of 1-0. On April 8th he started a game for the Angels. He was pulled from the game after 6 innings, and had allowed 0 runs. The Angels lead 3-0 when he left. They went on to lose the game, but a few short hours later, they lost much more than that. They lost a team mate. Someone who was well liked. Shortly after midnight, Adenhart was involved in an auto accident. Allegedly, another car ran a red light and smashed into his vehicle. Three of the 4 people in Adenhar’ts car were killed, including the pitcher. The driver of the vehicle that ran the red light was apparently driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The loss of Adenhart hit the team hard. But he was never forgotten by the team or his team mates. His locker at the stadium in Anaheim was left in tact. He was assigned a locker on every away game. One of his jerseys was hung in the Angels dugout for every game, home or away. These players carried their team mate’s memory with them through out the long season. They included him every step of the way. They kept him in their hearts. When they clinched the division, it was only fitting that they included him in their celebration. They did with his jersey what they would have done with him. It was a wonderful gesture.
But, as with everything, it seems, these days, the team and the players have come under criticism from some in the public and the press. It is insensitive, they say, to pour alcohol over the jersey of someone who was killed by an allegedly drunk driver. On some level, I guess I can see their point. But I think they are missing the point. Champagne has long been the symbol of champions. It is tradition. Alcohol is beside the point. It is the tradition of campaign, not alcohol, that is being observed. You don’t see players dousing each other with, say, Jack Daniels or grain alcohol. If alcohol were the point, these would be, perhaps, better choices than champagne. And, to an even larger point, they were symbolically including their friend. They were honoring his memory. Every bit as much as when they place a jersey in the dugout, or assign him a locker on the road. In this day and age of transience, of free agency, it is, indeed, special to see such a tribute to a teammate who has been gone for almost 6 months. That loyalty is something to be admired. I say the insensitive ones are the people trying to advance their own agenda by attacking this outpouring of love for a team mate no longer here. If there is shame here, it belongs to the detractors.
Good on you, Angels. Your loyalty to Adenhart was touching, and is to be admired. I’m sure Nick was celebrating right along with you!
Wild 09/16/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: colorado rockies, mlb baseball, nl wild card race, san francisco giants
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It’s not time to panic…. yet!
The Colorado Rockies entered their final 3 game series in San Francisco 4 1/2 games ahead of the Giants in the NL Wild Card race with 18 games
left to play. In their last trip to San Fran two weeks ago, the Giants swept the 3 game series. It would be to Colorado’s benefit to avoid that same fate this time. So here we are heading into the third and final game of the series with the Rockies trying to avoid the sweep. Their lead is down to 2 1/2 games. The 2 game swing in tonights game could make a world of difference. Obviously, the Rockies will leave the City by the Bay in the lead regardless of the outcome of the game this evening. Last time, San Fran sent the Rockies packing tied in the Wild Card. But the Rockies, primarily due to a 9-1 home stand, opened up a good sized lead during the intervening 2 weeks. But a 3 1/2 game lead, which the Rockies would have with a win tonight , would feel much better than a 1 1/2 game lead.
The Rockies road trip continues with a 3 game set at Arizona after tonight. The Giants head up
the coast to Division leading LA for a 3 game set after the game. The Rockies then head back to Coors Field in Denver for their final 9 home games of the season. It would be helpful if the Rockies take care of business over the next 13 games, because they close the season with 3 games at LA. Including tonights game, the Giants have 9 of their final 17 games on the road. They also close the season with their final 3 games away from home, visiting San Diego. This is significant because the Giants have the best home record in the NL with a 48-25 mark. They are 10 games below .500 on the road. That is why tonights game is so important. With a win, the Rockies will give themselves some breathing room. Win tonight, and then go 8-7 for the remainder of the season, and the Rockies will force the Giants into needing to finish 12- 4 to end the season. Not much margin for error there. Drop tonights game, and finish 8-7, then San Fran needs just a 10-6 mark to force game 163. A game that would be played by the Bay.
The good news is that Colorado entered the series needing 1 win to put the pressure squarely on the Giants. They still have a chance to make that happen. If they don’t, they will still be in the drivers seat, but the margin for error will be razor thin. Tonights starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa must shut down the Giants who suddenly are feasting on Rockies pitching. And the bats must come alive against Matt Cain, who is 2-1 in 4 starts against the Rockies this season, allowing 10 earned runs in 25 innings pitched. Colorado has amassed 19 hits (including 5 home runs) and 15 walks against 23 strike outs against Cain this season. For his part, De La Rosa is 2-0, allowing 8 earned runs on 15 hits (2 HR) in 13 1/3 innings. He has 12 strike outs and issued just 1 walk in his 2 starts against SF.
The Rockies have answered the bell all season long. In the last 2 games, they have been sluggish in the field, anemic at the plate and allowed the Giants to score at will. When the bell sounds tonight, look for the return of the Rockies of the last 3 months. The Wild Card race ends tonight.
Intensity 08/26/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: colorado rockies, los angeles dodgers, mlb, national league baseball, nl west, ryan spillborghs, san francisco giants, troy tulowitzki, wild card
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You’ve heard of Christmas in July? How about Roctober in August!
Playoff style baseball has come to the Mile High City a bit early this season. Last Friday the Rockies returned home
for an important seven game home stand. They were 2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League wild card race. Colorado also had pulled to with in 4 games of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead. First came the Giants for 4 games. The series stood at 2 games to 1 for the Rockies heading into the Monday finale. The crowds had been large and electric. The baseball had been better than good. But nothing could prepare the Rockies faithful for what was in store.
The final game of that series was quite a contest. The Giants
scored first, taking a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, the Rockies knotted the score at one each courtesy of a bases loaded walk. The score remained that way until the 14th inning. San Fran scored 3 times in the top of the inning, thanks mainly to a Giants triple. Game over, right? Not with these Rockies. In the bottom of the 14th, a bases loaded walk to the pitcher brought Colorado back to with in 2 runs. That brought Ryan Spillborghs to the plate. Spilly had come to bat in the 10th with runners on first and third and one out. He grounded into an inning ending double play, and he wanted a chance at redemption. He did not waste that chance. Spilly drove an 0-1 pitch over the right field wall for a walk off grand slam home run. The first walk off granny in Rockies history. He raced around the bases and touched off a mob scene at home plate with his teammates. The Rocks had taken care of the Giants, and had taken the series 3 games to one. When that home run cleared the wall, the Rockies next game loomed a scant 19 hours into the future. And with that game came the hated Dodgers.
The division leading Dodgers were off on Monday. They would be the well rested team. Surely that would be all the advantage they would need. The Rockies came into the bottom of the 4th inning hit less and trailing 2-0. A Todd Helton double and Brad Hawpe homer later, and the game was knotted 2-2. The Rockies took a 4-2 lead into the ninth. Closer Huston Street (33 saves in 34 opportunities) was unavailable, getting a off night after a heavy recent work load, and the bullpen faltered, allowing LA to tie the score at 4. Extra innings for the second straight night. The Rockies loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th, and it was Troy Tulowitzki’s turn to be the hero. His single to left center plated the winning run and set off another mob scene at Coors Field. Two very large games at Coors Field in just over 24 hours, and two extra inning walkoff victories by the Rockies.
While nothing is won in August, these games loom large because of the roll the Rockies have been on. On June 3rd, the Rockies sat in last place in the NL West with a 20-32 record, 15 1/2 games behind the Dodgers, who were 37-18 at the time. Since that point, the Rockies have gone 52-22 while the Dodgers have gone 37-34. That 15 1/2 game lead is down to 2 games. In addition, the Rockies have opened a 4 game lead in the NL wild card race. The playoff momentum is building in Denver. The Rockies believe. They play hard and with heart every night. They bring an excitement to the game that is refreshing. They have good starting pitching, good relievers, excellent defense and potent offense. They have been the best team in the National League for the past 2 1/2 months. They go out each and every night expecting to win. Keep this up and they will win the first division title in their history. And Roctober will return to the playoffs.
TU-LO! 08/11/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: chicago cubs, colorado rockies, cycle, mlb, mlb history, nl baseball, nl wild card race, todd helton, troy tulowitzki, tulo
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Colorado Rockies short stop Troy Tulowitzki hit for the cycle against the Chicago Cubs Monday night. He became the fifth Rockie to
accomplish the feat for the franchise since its inception in 1993. Tulo went 5-5 for the game and collected a career high 7 rbi. The 11-5 victory for the Rockies was their third win in the 4 game series. The victory moved the Rockies 1 game ahead of the San Francisco Giants and into sole possession of first place in the National League Wild Card race. They remain in 2nd place in the NL West, 5 1/2 games behind the LA Dodgers. The loss drops the Cubs to 3 games behind the St Louis Cardinals, winners over Cincinnati 4-1, In the NL Central. The Cubs also trail the Rockies by 3 games in the Wild Card race.
Tulo’s night began with a 2 run home run in the bottom of the
first to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead. Tulo’s bid for the cycle almost ended in the second inning. Coming to bat with the bases loaded, he took a big swing at the first pitch and drove it deep into the Colorado twilight. The drive landed on the left field concourse after flying high above the left field foul pole. Tulo and the Rockies thought he had just hit a grand slam, but the drive was ruled to be foul. Rockies manager Jim Tracy came out of the dug out to argue, and called for the first replay in Coors Field history. The call was upheld, and Tulo lost his slam, but promptly singled to left , driving in 2 runs. In the forth, Tulo doubled to center, driving in Todd Helton for his fifth rbi of the game. He came to bat in the seventh only a triple short of the cycle. He stroked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line. On most nights that hit would have been a double, but Tulo pressed on and dove head first into third base before Cub 3rd baseman Jake Fox could catch a poor throw and apply the tag. The cycle was his. Tulo added a 2 rbi single to center in the eighth inning. Tulowitzki became only the second player ever in the modern era (post 1903) to hit for a cycle and perform an unassisted triple play, two rare baseball events. John Valentin got the triple play on 7/8/1994 and the cycle on 6/6/1996, both while with the Red Sox. Tulo got his triple play on 4/29/2007.
Rockies notes: Tulo’s home run was his 21st of the season while Clint Barmes hit his 16th in the second inning. Todd Helton singled twice during the game to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa improved his record to 10-8.