DENVER (AP) – Finally out of the frigid weather, Carlos Gonzalez reclined in his chair inside the warmth of the clubhouse and proclaimed this to be the “worst, best day ever.”
Worst, because of the freezing conditions that included some snowflakes.
Best, because of the way the Colorado Rockies swept a doubleheader from the New York Mets.
After being stuck in the cold all day, this wasn’t too bad a finish. Jordan Pacheco singled home the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning and Colorado rallied from a six-run deficit for a 9-8 victory in the nightcap Tuesday.
Right after his game-ending single, Pacheco headed for the sauna. It was the quickest way to warm up.
Not that he was feeling the sting of the cold too much after celebrating with his teammates.
“I’m glad it worked out,” Pacheco said.
In the opener, Gonzalez homered and Todd Helton hit a go-ahead single as Colorado beat the Mets 8-4 in a game that was delayed 2 hours as 8 inches of snow was removed from the field.
Early in the day, 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 bounced around in the field and blew on their hands as they attempted to stay warm in the nightcap. Pacheco even wore a face mask with only his eyes peeking out.
His sharp single through the right side of the infield brought in Gonzalez. Rockies players jumped out of the dugout and mobbed Pacheco after he touched first base.
“Games like this are the games that are going to take you far,” said Gonzalez, whose team improved to 5-0 at home.
Rafael Betancourt (1-0) pitched a scoreless 10th to earn the win. Greg Burke (0-1) took the loss on a long day of chilly baseball. The temperature at first pitch for the nightcap was 36 degrees.
Burke pitched carefully to Gonzalez with two outs in the 10th and ended up walking the slugger. Michael Cuddyer then sent a sharp grounder wide of David Wright at third base, and the ball deflected off his glove into left field. A hustling Gonzalez made it all the way to third, setting up Pacheco’s winning hit.
The play originally was scored an error on Wright, but it was changed to a hit moments after the game.
“It’s been a long day,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
That it was.
Colorado rallied to tie it 8-all with two runs in the eighth inning, courtesy of two Mets miscues. With two outs and nobody on, reliever Brandon Lyon booted a grounder back to him for an error.
After Gonzalez singled, Bobby Parnell was summoned to face Cuddyer, who hit a chopper to shortstop Ruben Tejada. In this cold weather, though, nothing has been routine and Tejada threw high and wide to first base, allowing both runners to score on his sixth error of the season.
“I was freezing to death. It’s tough, tough to play in that weather but you have to play,” Tejada said. “It was a bad throw, a really bad throw. With that situation with the game on the line, it’s a really bad error.”
New York relied on seven relievers in the nightcap after Aaron Laffey lasted four innings.
Jeff Francis was roughed up for eight runs – six earned – in 4 1-3 innings but was taken off the hook when Colorado came back.
The Mets opened an 8-2 lead with a five-run fifth in which they sent 11 batters to the plate. Marlon Byrd drove in two with a single, while Justin Turner, Tejada and pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin also added RBI hits.
But no lead is safe at Coors Field and Colorado quickly answered in the bottom half. Backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba delivered a two-run double as the Rockies scored four times.
Helton and Troy Tulowitzki were not in the starting lineup for the nightcap.
For Helton, it was welcomed news, since he doesn’t particularly care for cold-weather games. Tulowitzki was held out as a precaution after he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Dillon Gee (0-3), who took the loss in the first game.
The All-Star shortstop was brought in to pinch hit with the bases loaded in the seventh, but struck out on three pitches from Scott Atchison.
One day after a spring storm postponed the first game of the series, the teams played a pair in frigid conditions. The temperature for the opener was 39 degrees.
Wright homered twice for the Mets, then wasn’t given much to hit. Colorado pitched carefully to him in Game 2, walking him twice. He also was robbed of a hit by second baseman Josh Rutledge.
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.
“These games are just grind-it-out games,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “This speaks volumes about our club.”
Juan Nicasio (2-0) allowed four runs in five innings to get the win in the first game.
NOTES: Colorado gave leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler most of the day off to rest a tender left foot. He entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning of the nightcap and struck out. … The record low at first pitch in Denver is 28 degrees on April 12, 1997, against Montreal. … New York LF Lucas Duda came out of the second game in the fifth inning with lower back tightness. … The Mets failed to homer in a game for the first time this season.
By JOE RESNICK, Associated Press
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