SAN FRANCISCO -- Charlie Blackmon gave a tired smile on Tuesday -- a night when things actually worked out for the Rockies. His three-run homer in the 16th inning -- which tied for the latest home run in club history -- sealed an 8-5 victory over the Giants at Oracle Park.
“Our guys really try hard and they care, and every pitch, every at-bat counts -- you saw that here tonight,” Blackmon said.
The Rockies had been here before. An April 12 game stretched to 18 innings in San Francisco, but the Rockies dropped that one, 3-2. It was part of a 3-12 start that was only part of the reason the Rockies are last in the National League West, instead of building on postseason trips in 2017 and 2018.
And the Rockies had a wider-reaching concern that turned out as well as could be expected -- in a year of worst-case scenarios.
Starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman, who this month has been making progress in some delivery corrections, was smoked on the outside of his right knee by a line drive from Alex Dickerson that had a 99.6 mph exit velocity. Hoffman crumpled and was carted off the field. However, the ball largely missed bone, and X-rays showed the injury to be a bone contusion and not a fracture.
Hoffman was on crutches afterward, but once the injury heals he can begin an offseason of continuing with corrections, in hopes of becoming the rotation cog the Rockies hoped when they acquired him from the Blue Jays in 2015.
Good pitching injury news has been hard to come by this year.
But before lefty Kyle Freeland returned from a left groin injury with two encouraging innings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, the Rockies had the distinction of having all five of their season-opening starters on the injured list for about a month. Tyler Anderson (surgery for a left knee chondral defect) was gone by May, and by August Jon Gray (left foot surgery), German Márquez (right arm inflammation) and Chad Bettis (bilateral hip surgery), who had moved to the bullpen, were on the shelf.
So Hoffman and the Rockies were thanking their previously unlucky stars.
“The last thing I wanted to do was end my season like that -- not on my own terms,” Hoffman said. “But to have pain like that and 20-30 minutes later get the good news, it was a big relief. I’m just happy that nothing crazy happened.”
Well, the game had plenty of craziness.
• The teams used a combined Major League record 25 pitchers, which surpassed the 24 the Rockies and Dodgers used in a 16-inning affair Sept. 16, 2015. In that one, Nolan Arenado homered in the 16th -- a mark that Blackmon tied with his shot off Dereck Rodriguez.
“It’s easy to try to do too much right there, try to do it all in one swing,” Blackmon said. “That’s really the wrong way to go about it. Just try to swing at good pitches at that point. That was a good pitch to hit.”
“Thank God for September -- things will be a little different [next season] in this type of scenario,” said Rockies manager Bud Black, noting that teams can carry up to 40 players this September, but next year can dress just 28 for a game in September.
• The eight combined homers set an Oracle Park record. Hampson, Desmond and Trevor Story went deep off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, a free agent at season’s end, who could be winding up an illustrious career by the Bay. Hampson’s second homer came off Jandel Gustave.
Not only was Tuesday Hampson’s first multi-homer game, but his 3-for-6 night -- which included a hit preceding Blackmon’s homer -- brought his September to 23-for-62 (.317) with five of his seven total homers.
Before being hit, Hoffman gave up homers to Buster Posey and Bumgarner. Evan Longoria homered in the eighth off Carlos Estévez, who had gone 10 appearances and 9 2/3 innings without giving up one.
• Story went deep against the Giants for the sixth straight game -- a franchise mark for a Rockies player against an opponent, and one for the Giants being victimized by one player. Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby and Mike Schmidt homered off the Giants in five straight games.
The only longer homer streak for one player against a team in history is the Brewers’ Christian Yelich’s seven straight against the Cardinals.