Colorado Rockies’ 1st-baseman Ben Paulsen lost track of the out count in the top of the 5th inning when the Rockies had only one of them. With a run in and runners on 2nd and 3rd Texas Rangers’ slugger Prince Fielder grounded sharply to Paulsen, who waved-off Chris Rusin and took the put-out at 1st, then trotted toward a panicking Colorado dugout. By the time Paulsen realized what had happened, Rougned Odor (which until last night I thought was something you experienced on an oil rig) had raced home with the Rangers’ 3rd run of the inning, and everybody in the world knew the Rockies’
7-5 lead wasn’t going to hold-up for the distance. Texas’ problem was, after they tied the game in the top of the 9th they allowed 2 Colorado runners to get on base ahead of Paulsen, who lined a 2-2 pitch from Tanner Scheppers (3-1, 4.65) into the left-center gap, scoring Drew Stubbs (who had pinch-run for Troy Tulowitzki) and lifting the Rockies to their 4th 2015 walk-off victory, 8-7 Monday night at Coors Field in Denver.
Colorado deployed one of their staple strategies for success, the one where you score a bunch of runs early, then go take a nap. They got started with 2 out and 2 on in the bottom of the 1st. Nolan Arenado knocked-in the baserunners with a double and Paulsen delivered a single to plate Arenado and put the Rockies ahead 3-0. They went right back at it in the 2nd. Brandon Barnes led-off with a single and moved-up on a bunt by Colorado starter Rusin. Charlie Blackmon knocked-in Barnes with a single, then DJ LeMahieu tripled on a bone-headed route by Rangers’ right-fielder Josh Hamilton, scoring Blackmon. Tulowitzki followed with his 12th 2015 home run, running the lead to 7-0.
The Rockies then failed to get a hit until Tulowitzki singled leading off the 9th. In the meantime Texas got 2 back in the 3rd on a Ryan Rua double and singles by Tomas Telis and Fielder. It got ugly for Colorado in the 5th when Telis led-off with a single, and moved-up on a bunt by Rangers’ starter Nick Martinez that Rusin foolishly threw into Telis’ back. After Delino DeShields flew-out to Blackmon Odor singled to right, knocking in Telis, driving Martinez to 3rd, and Odor moved to second on Carlos Gonzalez’ failed throw to the plate. Fielder followed with his ground ball. You read the rest above.
Texas would add a run in the 7th when Adrian Beltre drove-in Fielder from 1st with a 2-out double, then in the 9th Rockies’ closer John Axford (2-2, 2.60) deployed one of his favorite strategies, the lead-off walk. Axford came-on with Colorado leading 7-6 and Leonis Martin, DeShields, and Odor due ahead of Fielder, Beltre, and Hamilton. So he walked Martin, who moved-up on ground-out to LeMahieu. Odor popped to catcher Nick Hundley, Fielder was walked to set-up the force, but Beltre delivered Martin with a double to left. Tie game.
Tulo’s single opened the 9th against Scheppers, then Gonzalez blooped one into center to move the shortstop into scoring position. Arenado lined softly to DeShields in left, bringing the evening’s dog to the plate. Paulsen took a ball, fouled-one back, took another ball, swung and missed, and then drove a 95 MPH fastball into that left-center field gap for the win. ROX WALK OFF!!! ROX WALK OFF!!! ROX WALK OFF!!!
The Rangers aren’t going home. Game 2 of the 3-game set is tonight at Coors, 1st pitch at 6:40 MDT. Matt Harrison goes for Texas against Colorado’s Kyle Kendrick.