Other lessons in Rockies' astonishing 14-inning victory

This morning on ESPN Radio, Jason Smith noted that only one walk-off grand slam in Major League Baseball history had taken place in a later inning than Ryan Spilborghs' 14th inning shocker that lifted the Colorado Rockies to an unlikely win over the San Francisco Giants last night: Boston Red Sox player Clyde Vollmer achieved the feat in the 16th inning to frustrate the Cleveland Indians back in 1951. Added data: The last walk-off slam in the 14th was hammered by new Rocks member Jason Giambi in 2002, when he was a New York Yankee.

Even if last night's marathon leaves the Rockies exhausted and spent going into another huge series, this one against the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, it's the kind of momentum-changer capable of paying dividends for weeks to come. Indeed, ESPN's Smith essentially wrote off the Giants' wild-card quest in today's broadcast, noting how difficult such a gut-busting loss will be to overcome. (SF will have something to say about that during their next series against the Rockies, in the Bay Area this weekend.) Nevertheless, the Rockies can go to school on other aspects of the contest beyond the grit and tenacity that fueled their startling comeback. After all, they should have ended the game in the 10th, and again in the 11th, when they had a runner on third with just one out and managed to squander the situations. Indeed, the first time around, disaster came courtesy of red-hot Troy Tulowitzki, whose foolish decision to overrun first led to an unnecessary first out, and Spilborghs, who weakly grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Rockies need to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, and to avoid beating themselves -- their hallmarks since Jim Tracy took over as manager. Of course, doing so may lessen the chance for late-inning heroics. But in the final analysis, easy wins count just as much as dramatic ones.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts