Chris Nelson Steals Home to Give Rockies Comeback Win Over Reds
But the Rockies -- naturally, the Rockies -- gave us a refresher course in the magic of the season's final month Thursday afternoon. As if it wasn't enough to complete a four-game sweep of the first-place Reds with a 6-5 comeback victory, Colorado scored the eventual winning run on a steal of home plate.
Rookie pinch-runner Chris Nelson did the honors in the eighth inning, racing to the plate just about literally under Reds pitcher Nick Masset's nose. Masset, a right-hander working from the stretch with one out and Melvin Mora on first base, had an epic brain cramp as Nelson found him inattentive and took off for home plate. And when Masset heard his teammates yelling that a runner was going, he first looked toward second base, not home plate where Nelson was sliding safely home without a throw. (Watch the video here.)
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said the play in question was supposed to be a squeeze but Nelson took off too soon. Luckily for the Rockies, he kept his cool better than Masset did.
"Completely my mistake," Masset told reporters. "It's embarrassing. Never should have happened."
Once Huston Street set the Reds down in order in the ninth to close out the victory, the game could officially take its place among the best of the season.
Before Nelson's mad dash, those at a half-full Coors Field watched the home team come back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game with help from a two-run homer by Jason Giambi and a solo shot by Troy Tulowitzki -- the latter more of a wind-blown pop-up.
And the most electric moment of the game prior to the eighth didn't even involve a run crossing the plate. The Rockies had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh when MVP candidate and Triple Crown threat Carlos Gonzalez stepped to the plate to face the man everyone wants to see on the pitcher's mound, fireballing reliever Aroldis Chapman. Gonzalez fouled off Chapman's first two offerings -- an 86-mph slider and a 101-mph fastball -- before grounding into an inning-ending double play on a 103-mph heater.
Clinging to a 5-4 lead at that point, the Reds could reasonably have believed they had weathered the worst of what the Rockies could throw at them. But then Nelson entered the picture, pinch-running for Giambi after the slugger drew a walk. Nelson went to third on the Joey Votto error that put Mora on first, and after Ryan Spilborghs struck out, Nelson made his move for the plate.
It was his first stolen base in the major leagues and represented the first straight steal of home against the Reds since the Padres' Eric Owens did it more than a decade ago, on May 21, 1999.
With the Rockies winning and the Reds losing Thursday, there is perhaps a bit more hope for the pursuers in the NL races. It will still take quite a run for the Cardinals to overtake the Reds, and the Rockies are faced with leapfrogging both the Padres and Giants in the NL West, but stranger things have happened. And they usually seem to involve the Rockies.