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Story seals sweep of Seattle with walk-off blast

July 15, 2018

DENVER -- After being mobbed and drenched with sports drink and popcorn Sunday afternoon, Trevor Story heads to his first All-Star Game in style.Story powered his first career walk-off homer over the center-field wall while leading off the ninth inning against Nick Vincent to give the Rockies a 4-3 victory

DENVER -- After being mobbed and drenched with sports drink and popcorn Sunday afternoon, Trevor Story heads to his first All-Star Game in style.
Story powered his first career walk-off homer over the center-field wall while leading off the ninth inning against Nick Vincent to give the Rockies a 4-3 victory over the Mariners and a three-game sweep of the series at Coors Field.
The hit lifted the Rockies (51-45) to their 13th victory in their last 16 games, including four in a row, and leaves them two games behind the first-place Dodgers and 1 1/2 behind the D-backs (their opponent in three games at Chase Field out of the break).
Afterward, Story would board a jet with teammates Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon for All-Star festivities in Washington. He said Sunday's homer was his first game-ender as a child or adult. It joins his two-homer debut in 2016 and learning he was an All-Star as pinnacle moments in a career that's growing into quite the Story.
"We feel like we're starting to get hot -- like we're playing the way we're capable of playing," Story said. "More so to do it at this time, that's more special to me."

It was Story's 20th homer of the season -- second on the club to Arenado's 23. It was the Rockies' first walk-off home run since the famously celebrated Father's Day homer last June 18, when Arenado's shot finished a cycle at Coors against the Giants.
Story had some good swings against Vincent -- "It was a good at-bat, both guys were battling," Rockies manager Bud Black said.
"I said he was going to hit a double on the first pitch," Blackmon said. "I'm glad I was wrong."
In a game played in rain from the first inning on, several hard-hit balls died in the outfield. But Story had no doubts when he clubbed Vincent's cutter.
"It's just one of those things -- I've hit some balls hard, and you start to figure when you know it's gone for sure," Story said.
Arenado said, "He always looks good, being in control. I've been talking about him slowing the game down lately. He was ready."
Rockies starter Tyler Anderson gave up two first-inning runs and threw 28 pitches in the first, but held the Mariners there through six innings with five hits allowed, to go along with six strikeouts and a walk -- all in tough mound conditions. Black figured Anderson was done after 91 pitches, after he needed to force a Denard Span fly ball to end the sixth with two on base.

"It was one of those things where conditions weren't great and you're fighting yourself a little bit, too," Anderson said.
Mariners starter Mike Leake also braved wetness to hold the Rox to two runs (one earned) and six hits in six frames.

The wet weather played into three scoring plays:
• Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger fielded Arenado's single with DJ LeMahieu and Blackmon on in the second, and Blackmon scored to tie it at 2 after the ball slipped from Haniger's throwing hand.

• The Mariners took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Dee Gordon delivered a hit to left -- the second of the inning off Jake McGee -- with Guillermo Heredia at second. Rockies left fielder Gerardo Parra's arm is respected, but Mariners third-base coach Scott Brosius took advantage of the conditions and sent Heredia, who easily beat a throw that dribbled to the plate.

• The Rockies tied it in the seventh on Ian Desmond's triple off Juan Nicasio, which was aided by Haniger slipping while chasing a ball that hit the fence in foul ground. Chris Iannetta's sacrifice fly scored Desmond.

The conditions nearly helped the Mariners in the eighth. With two down and one one against Bryan Shaw, LeMahieu -- a two-time Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman -- slid for Denard Span's grounder, but couldn't make the play.
However, Scott Oberg (4-0) forced a Ben Gamel grounder. Oberg fanned one in a clean ninth for his eighth scoreless appearance in nine games since returning from a lower back strain. With closer Wade Davis and primary setup man Adam Ottavino unavailable because of recent workload, Oberg found himself trusted in a big game. He said he cautioned himself to "not treat this any differently than how I've been throwing in the sixth or seventh."
Shaw, in the first year of a three-year, $27 million contract, missed 13 games from June 24 to Wednesday to heal a right calf strain. Sunday was the second appearance of his return, but first in a tight game. A solid performance, even with the hits, puts him back in the mix for big innings after the break.
The cut fastball that hung early in the year, bit downward Sunday, and he would have escaped the eighth without Oberg needing to enter had LeMahieu made the play on Span. The other appearance -- a scoreless inning with two strikeouts and a walk in Wednesday's 19-2 thrashing of the D-backs -- helped build confidence.
"It's building blocks, it's steps," Shaw said. "Having a good one last time, a good one today -- 'Obie' came in and finished the inning for me -- we got the ground balls, got the ball down, got it where we wanted."
After an agonizing start at Coors, the Rockies have won 12 of their last 15 to rise to .500 (23-23) at home.
The replay decision -- after a Mariners challenge -- that allowed the safe call on the seventh-inning triple to stand, highlighted a heady, daring play by Desmond.

Running was a risk, but Haniger's throw to third was wide. Kyle Seager caught it and flipped to Nicasio covering the bag. Desmond, not sliding, stepped on the bag just in time. Desmond, oft-criticized during a first half that ends with a .235 average, has made several heady plays at key times. Desmond also has hit safely in the last six games (11-for-23).
The Rockies dropped 2-of-3 at Arizona to open the season, but hit seven homers -- three by Blackmon, one by Arenado -- in the three games. The teams hook up again for a three-game series at Chase Field starting Friday night at 7:40 p.m. MT.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.