DENVER -- Only a slight bite to the air, but the frenetic, emotional evening conjured dreams of Monday night’s game at Coors Field taking place sometime after September. It was the type of game for which the Rockies signed Daniel Murphy.
It was Murphy’s eighth-inning double that set up Ryan McMahon’s tiebreaking single, the difference in the Rockies’ much-needed 6-5 victory over the Cubs, whose loud legion of fans had to watch the people in purple party.
“The atmosphere was great,” said Murphy, who was with the Cubs last October when the Rockies beat them in the National League Wild Card Game in 13 innings at Wrigley Field, 2-1. “The fans were unbelievable. I’ve experienced Chicago and how they travel on the road. It kind of startled me a bit when I was there. Even this was pretty impressive.
“But the atmosphere was great, and it was a fun game to play.”
Even though it was June 10, it was a big game to win.
The Rockies (34-31) had just returned after going 2-4 on the road against the Mets and Cubs, and seemed in need of getting back on the roll that pushed them above .500 during their last homestand.
“Anytime you have a game like this, it breeds confidence, no doubt about it,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We just played these guys last week, some good games in Chicago. Anytime you play a team like this in this atmosphere, it can really give you some momentum.”
And Murphy, signed for two years and $24 million, arrived with a catalog of clutch performances -- especially in postseasons with the Mets and during last year’s stretch run with the Cubs -- and the ability to influence others. And while he wasn’t involved in a home run show that included Ian Desmond hitting the longest in MLB this season at 486 feet in the seventh inning, Murphy went 2-for-4 while giving the Rockies the savvy they needed.
Murphy had a seven-game RBIs streak snapped Saturday, but he has been a key member of an offense finding its form. In his last 19 games, Murphy is 24-for-70 (.343) with six runs, five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 18 RBIs.
But when he came up with one out in the eighth against Cubs righty Steve Cishek, Murphy was thinking of one of the at-bats that didn’t go well. In the ninth inning of Rockies’ 9-8 loss at Wrigley, Cishek zipped a 2-2 pitch by him. Or as Murphy said, “He kind of chewed me up and spit me out.”
He added, “I was just trying to have a better at-bat and, in a perfect world, hit a double. That’s my goal.”
Murphy, not known for speed, stole third on the third pitch of Raimel Tapia’s looking strikeout (he wanted to go earlier). McMahon then lined a 2-1 slider into the right-center gap.
“Murphy is a professional hitter,” McMahon said. “He stole that bag, was causing a little havoc. Cishek was thinking a little bit about him at third, probably afraid to bounce something, wanting to be a little more perfect with his pitches. [That] got me something to hit.”
Could that have been McMahon following Murphy’s example?
“The cool thing you get to see is the more times that he gets in that situation, the more times he can pull from previous experiences,” Murphy said. “That’s what you see -- being able to slow the at-bat down, pick out a pitch and be able to put a good move on it.”