DENVER (AP) – Carlos Gonzalez homered and tripled, Todd Helton hit a go-ahead single and the Colorado Rockies beat the New York Mets 8-4 in the opening game of a doubleheader Tuesday that was delayed 2 hours as 8 inches of snow was cleared off the field.
One day after a spring storm postponed the first game of the series, the teams were scheduled to play two in frigid conditions. The temperature at first pitch was 39 degrees and was expected to dip even lower for the nightcap – maybe even with more snow.
David Wright homered twice for the Mets, finally back on the field after cold weather postponed two straight games. Wintry conditions in Minneapolis on Sunday prompted their game against the Twins to be called off and rescheduled in August.
Juan Nicasio (2-0) struggled with his command, unable to locate his fastball, but still earned the win. He lasted five innings and allowed four runs before being lifted for a pinch hitter.
Dillon Gee (0-3) had another rough outing, going 4 2-3 innings and giving up five earned runs. He yielded seven runs in three innings at Philadelphia a week ago.
Early on Tuesday morning, Rockies owner Dick Monfort took the field with a shovel and helped clear the way for the game to be played. A crew of team employees lent a hand as well, as did Sandy Alderson, the general manager of the Mets.
Players tried everything to stay warm. Some wore extra layers and others kept close to the dugout heaters as much as they could. Colorado second baseman Jonathan Herrera even wore a ski mask, just to keep the biting wind off his face.
Between pitches, Gee and Nicasio blew on their hands in an effort to keep their fingers from getting stiff.
The teams originally scheduled a split doubleheader to make up Monday’s postponement. But all the snow and the late start Tuesday turned it into a traditional twinbill, with just a short break between games.
A sparse crowd showed up for the day game, bundled up in heavy coats and stocking caps. The Rockies didn’t plow the upper deck and allowed all fans to sit in the lower level. Even then, the stands looked awfully empty even though the attendance was announced as 21,510.
Helton put the Rockies ahead with a two-run single that chased Gee in the fifth. Eric Young Jr. added two late RBIs for Colorado.
Gonzalez had a solo homer and scored two runs. Young knocked in runs with a single in the sixth and a triple off the fence in the eighth.
The Rockies had a reason for concern in the fifth when Troy Tulowitzki was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Gee. Manager Walt Weiss came out to check on his All-Star shortstop, along with the trainer, before Tulowitzki motioned that he was all right. Tulowitzki missed the majority of last season with a groin injury that eventually required surgery to remove scar tissue.
He’s the catalyst in the offense, providing protection for Gonzalez.
Colorado scored three runs in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Helton had the big hit, a two-run, two-out single that just rolled under the glove of second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Wright hit his first homer of the season in the first, a two-run liner into the bullpen in right. The Mets have hit at least one homer in every game this season, the only team to accomplish the feat.
In the fifth, Wright hit another to center for his 19th career multihomer game.
This much is certain: Wright enjoys hitting at Coors Field. He finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs on Tuesday and is batting .398 with 10 homers in the ballpark.
The Rockies were without leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler, who rested a tender left foot. Fowler fouled a pitch off the foot on Sunday and had precautionary X-rays that came back negative. Fowler leads the Rockies with six homers.
Since the Mets and Rockies didn’t celebrate Jackie Robinson Day the day before, the players all donned No. 42 on Tuesday.
“It’s an honor,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I really believe what somebody said yesterday – it’s one of the most important days in the history of baseball. I agree with that. Every ethnic person who plays the game should respect what Jackie had to go through and what he meant. It’s an honor to have No. 42 on for one day.”
NOTES: Nicasio threw 97 pitches. The last time a Colorado starter reached the century mark was June 12 last year, a stretch of 115 games. It’s the longest string in the majors since such records started being kept by STATS in 1988. … The game-time temperature tied for the 10th-coldest game in the Mile High City. The record is 28 degrees on April 12, 1997, against Montreal.
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)