Two for the Price of One

The Diamondbacks let one get away on Monday when the bullpen was unable to hold a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning. After being down 2-0 after seven innings the Diamondbacks came up big on a three-run home run by Eric Byrnes. It looked like the team was on their ways to a victory before Brandon Medders allowed the Rockies to score in the eighth to tie the game then rookie Tony Pena gave up three singles that let Colorado score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. After a heartbreaking loss coupled with a Dodgers win put the Diamondbacks another game down in the standings, the team could have mailed one in tonight. Instead it may be a turning point in the season and a defining moment for this team.

Miguel Batista was called upon for Tuesday’s start to try and get the Diamondbacks on track and even up the series and road trip record. Batista threw six strong innings allowing only one run on seven hits. The Diamondbacks took the lead in the top of the third inning when Eric Byrnes singled to center scoring Stephen Drew. Byrnes had to that point accounted for all of the runs against Colorado in this series. The Rockies tied the game in the fifth inning when Jamey Carroll hit into a double-play that allowed Clint Barmes to score. This made the score 1-1 which until this year would have been merely a warm up to a high scoring affair in Coors Field. But this year Coors has played more like Dodger Stadium than the launching pad it has been know as in the past. Some say that the reason for the lower run totals are a result of the Rockies keeping the baseballs in a humidor which affects their flight pattern. Others might point to the fact that the field is being groomed differently. The infield and outfield grass is substantially longer than others in the league and looks to be thicker. The dirt in front of the plate and on the base paths is also looser than what we see at Chase Field. Both of these slow the ball making it more difficult to get the ball through the infield or into the gaps. Personally I think its probably global warming. It’s stinking hot outside and the ball like the players just doesn’t want to do anything but go back into the dugout.

Getting back to the game, the score remained tied at 1-1 and the innings began to pile up. You kept expecting that one team or the other would make a mistake and allow a run to score but both teams played strong defense. The only error of the game was recorded by Torrealba in the seventh on a throwing error that allowed Carlos Quentin to go to third. The Diamondbacks were unable to take advantage of that though as Shawn Green followed by hitting into a double play to end the inning. So the inconceivable continued, a pitching duel at Coors Field. At the end of nine it was still tied 1-1. Players and pitchers began to slowly rotate into the line-up as the game moved along. Each inning that passed made it harder to believe that we were seeing a pitching and defensive gem in Colorado. Each team had an opportunity to score and each time the opposition would snuff out the rally. Pitching staffs were getting depleted and it started to get to the point when starters we starting to warm up to come into the game. A bullpen can usually handle extra innings up to 13 or 14 innings but beyond that you just start running out of players and it becomes a challenge of wills to see who will blink first. In this game it was the Rockies that blinked and even then it was just slightly. In the top of the eighteenth inning Eric Byrnes again was the difference maker. He singled to right then was moved up on a sacrifice by Orlando Hudson. Luis Gonzalez then reminded Diamondbacks fans what a big game hitter he was by singling to center to score Byrnes from second. Brandon Medders redeemed himself for the previous game by nailing down the win by striking out Ryan Spilborghs to end the game.

Oddly enough, this was not the only game with an exciting ending. On the same night the Chicago Cubs played the Houston Astros at Minutemaid Field. That contest went eighteen innings and saw the visiting team win 8-6. It was the first time in Major League Baseball history when two games went 18 innings on the same night and both saw the visiting team win it in the final inning. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies game was the longest in Coors Field history going 5:21. The game saw 514 pitches thrown and the teams used a total of 41 players during the marathon. After a game of that length using that many players, it should have counted for two in the standings.

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