Blackmon is a real catch
CF pockets gem, then scores on Arenado’s winner
Mullet flying, beard flapping, Charlie Blackmon made the catch of his career Tuesday night at Coors Field in the Rockies’ wild, crazy and richly satisfying 5-4 walk-off victory over the New York Mets.
The Rockies’ all-star center fielder raced down Michael Conforto’s 415-foot blast, made the catch and crashed into the wall to seal the Mets’ final out of the ninth inning. Blackmon was serenaded with a standing ovation.
Naturally, Blackmon led off the ninth by drawing a walk off reliever Hansel Robles. Blackmon advance to second on DJ LeMahieu’s infield grounder, then slid home on Nolan Arenado’s RBI single to left-center for the game-winner — the fifth walk-off hit of his career.
“I want those at-bats,” Arenado said. “To be honest with you, I like those big at-bats. I don’t like failing in them, but I don’t mind it. I feel as comfortable as you can be in those moments.”
In one of the most entertaining games of the season, a festive crowd of 36,698 looked on as Arenado launched a three-run homer and drove in four runs and rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman produced a quality start.
This was a roller-coaster ride, but the Rockies’ victory kept them 5K games in front of Milwaukee for the National League’s second wild-card spot.
Jay Bruce’s solo homer off reliever Chris Rusin gave the Mets a 4-3 lead in the eighth. But Carlos Gonzalez’s 48 mph “screamer” tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the frame. He dribbled the ball down the third-base line to score Mark Reynolds, who had opened the inning with a single. Gonzalez’s hit may have been coaxed by the benevolent baseball gods, but it’s still goes into the box score as an RBI single.
The Rockies’ offense was dormant until the sixth inning. Blackmon opened the barrage with a single off starter Steven Matz, fol-
lowed by a loud double to left by LeMahieu. The explosion came from Arenado, who blasted a three-run, opposite-field homer into Colorado’s bullpen for a 3-2 Rockies lead. Arenado now has 95 RBIs this season, tops in the majors.
New York tied the game 3-3 in the seventh off newly acquired reliever Pat Neshek, who was making his Coors Field debut in a Rockies uniform. Neshek should have fared better. He struck out Jose Reyes, but the ball got away from catcher Ryan Hanigan and Reyes reached first. Reyes advanced to third on a bloop double by Conforto and scored an unearned run on Asdrubal Cabrera’s sacrifice fly.
Hoffman overcame a first-inning hiccup to pitch six solid innings, yielding two earned runs on five hits, with three walks and five strikeouts.
“Man, I was proud of Jeff Hoffman, how he hung tough when he had runners in scoring position,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We fought back and took the lead. The guys in the pen sort of got nicked a little bit.”
The Rockies pulverized Matz when they faced him July 16 at Citi Field, pounding out seven runs on nine hits in the first inning en route to a 13-4 Colorado victory. It was the shortest outing of Matz’s career.
But Matz owned the Rockies until their breakout sixth. Indeed, Colorado didn’t notch its first hit until Trevor Story beat out an infield single with one out in the fifth. Hanigan advanced him to third on a clean single to left, but Hoffman couldn’t deliver, grounding out to Matz.
The Mets struck first, and quickly. Conforto led off the game with a walk and scored on Yoenis Cespedes’ laser-shot double to left. At that point, it looked as if it might be a short start for Hoffman, but he regrouped and put the Rockies in position to win.