Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Rockies 5, Pirates 3
2005-07-23 12:51
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Well, I caught the highlights on ESPNews after returning home from Colorado Springs. Todd Helton hits game-winner in extras! Jack Wilson makes outlandish shovel-scoop relay play! That was all they showed. It was a good night for highlights, however, as the Cardinals beat the Cubs on an 11th-inning squeeze play and the Rangers-Athletics game ended up being decided by a footrace. Glancing at the Colorado box score real quickly to make sure I don't overlook anything, I see that Helton and Matt Holliday were the stars with multhit games and a homer apiece. The 6-7-8 spots were ice cold with only one Luis Gonzalez single in 13 AB's. Jamey Wright had one of his not uncommon good road starts. Brian Fuentes blew a save but also struck out three guys and vultured the win.

My evening in Colorado Springs was fun. Mike Esposito pitched for the SkySox. He could be a minor league legend one day, but I doubt he's ever going to amount to much in the majors. He has no stuff to speak of. In contrast Tacoma's Clint Nageotte, a prospect whom I've been hearing about for seemingly forever, still can't throw his marvel of a slider for strikes. Colorado Springs' bullpen made it more exciting than it needed to be thanks to Bobby Seay. You know about him. What is it about me and baseball games at altitude that when I go out to the ballpark, a 2-1 pitchers' duel always ends up breaking out?

Omar Quintanilla and Jeff Salazar didn't do much that I saw. J.J. Davis made some solid contact. Tacoma's Jamal Strong made a couple of fine plays in center, which is in keeping with what I was led to believe about him by my prospect books. Ryan Speier looked good, better than Seay anyway. I have the sinking feeling that the two best hitters at AAA for the Rockies are Spilborghs and Shealy, both well and truly blocked.

Jeff Pickler on the other hand is the kind of player you only see in the minors, a slap-hitting second baseman with an odd tendency to double-clutch on routine ground balls and a strangely nonchalant lefthanded batting stance. He holds the bat loosely against his chest until after the pitcher begins his delivery. It looks, for all the world, like Barry Bonds. Except Pickler is a skinny white guy who is generously listed at 5'10". The fans seem to love him though.

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