I don't put a of stock in a lot of baseball's superstitious mythologies, but one thing that I do think is true is that the ninth inning is just different. Not every pitcher has the makeup to take the mound in the final inning of a close game and take care of business. Tonight was the biggest test of the season for Brian Fuentes. After "Jason" Jennings and Jay Witasick combined to dominate the Baltimore hitters through eight, Fuentes came out to hold down a 2-0 lead in the most difficult conditions imaginable. 50,000 Baltimore fans were screaming for his head. The Rockies' road woes, and his blown save in Cleveland earlier in the week, must have weighed heavily upon his shoulders. He risked permanent eye damage from the blinding ugliness of the Orioles' black-and-orange alternate jerseys. And somehow, the happiest surprise of the Rockies' pitching staff this season came through.
Fuentes overcame a leadoff triple, a walk, and a close play at the plate on a Brian Roberts sac fly that didn't go the Rockies' way to strike out B.J. Surhoff and pop out Melvin Mora to seal down the win. Cory Sullivan pitched in with a great diving stop of Roberts' fly ball and the throw that very nearly caught Eli Marrero at the plate. For once Jennings actually deserved to get a win (7 innings, 6 hits, five walks, seven strikeouts, including three of Scammin' Sammy Sosa). Witasick continued his unconscious work, striking out one in a perfect eighth.
The Rockies can't expect to win too many 2-1 games, at home or on the road; the offense is going to have pick itself up if we don't want to be left in the dust by the streaking Royals. For one night though, this is one to savor, and hopefully a game that will breed more winning ways on the road. That's another goofy baseball truism I kind of believe -- winning is contagious.