CHICAGO -- After spending the regular season serving as the definition of a light-hitting catcher thanks to a .170 batting average, Tony Wolters added a calling card: unlikely postseason luminary.:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::Wolters' two-out RBI single in the top of the 13th inning gave the
CHICAGO -- After spending the regular season serving as the definition of a light-hitting catcher thanks to a .170 batting average, Tony Wolters added a calling card: unlikely postseason luminary.
:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::
Wolters' two-out RBI single in the top of the 13th inning gave the Rockies a 2-1 victory over the Cubs in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.
The Rockies, who have been in three cities and three time zones in the past three days, can celebrate for a day before meeting the Brewers in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Thursday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Of the 12 teams that have won the Wild Card Game prior to this year, six went on to win their Division Series, but only one -- the 2014 Giants -- has won the World Series.
As for Wolters, let's say this moment surpasses his 10th-inning walk-off walk in an April 7 win over the Braves -- or any other accomplishment in his three-season career.
"Are you kidding me?" said a laughing Wolters. "Yeah, that was probably the biggest postseason hit I've ever had, that's for sure."
Wolters' single off Kyle Hendricks -- after Trevor Story and Gerardo Parra also rapped out two-out singles -- doubled the lore of the 13th inning in Rockies elimination-game history. In 2007 the Rockies delivered a thrilling 9-8 victory in Game 163 against the Padres -- managed by current Colorado manager Bud Black.
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"I think this will go down as a Major League Baseball classic," Black said of a game that went into the books as the longest elimination game in history in terms of innings and time of game -- four hours and 55 minutes that neither he or nor anyone in purple ever wants back. "We feel good about how we played.
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"That's what I think is the most important thing here, how we played as a team and how the contributions came from so many guys. And it's awesome that a number of these fellas will always remember this game."
Wolters wasn't the only one with a night to remember -- although there aren't many offensive highlights on a night the team went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.
Lefty Kyle Freeland held the Cubs to four hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings while turning in the first scoreless postseason start in Rockies history. But the 1-0 lead -- gained on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly in the first inning, for the only run against Jonathan Lester in a nine-strikeout, six-inning performance -- was not enough to secure the win.
Still, it was a red-letter night for Freeland, a Denver native who watched the 2007 classic from his couch as a 14-year-old. That game ended up with another player better known for defense and grit, Jamey Carroll, delivering the sacrifice fly to score Matthew Holliday, who returned to the Rockies this season and started behind Freeland on Tuesday, contributing a double in the fourth.
Freeland seemed undaunted opposing Lester, who was making his 12th postseason start -- which includes Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, with the Red Sox celebrating the title at Coors Field.
"Got to start your postseason experience somewhere," Freeland said. "It was nice to come out on top today and have the team back you up, and a team that just continued to fight no matter what was happening."
Five relievers held the Cubs to one run on two hits and three walks.
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Adam Ottavinoescaped a wild seventh that included a wild pitch and a catcher's interference call against Andrew Butera -- which loaded the bases -- by fanning Jason Heyward on his hardest fastball this season, at 97 mph. Only a two-out, 0-2 double by Javier Baez in the eighth on a slider from Ottavino stood between the bullpen and scorelessness.
Wade Davis, Seunghwan Oh, Chris Rusin and winning pitcher Scott Oberg -- who fanned all four batters he faced -- completed the journey to celebration.
"We showed a lot of resilience throughout the whole game," Oberg said. "Our hitters fought. They threw a bunch of good arms at us. They pitched really well all game, too, but we were able to come out of the game with a victory."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
An interesting little stat about Freeland didn't -- but did -- come into play in the sixth inning.
Right fielder David Dahl rushed toward the line but overran Kristopher Bryant's fly ball for what was ruled a single that put two on and one out and represented the Cubs' first hit since Almora's leadoff single in the second.
With the Friendly Confines ringing with a teasing, repeated, "Freeeeee-land," the lefty got Anthony Rizzo to hit into an inning-ending double play.
The stat? Freeland did not give up a single unearned run all season. That meant that not only did he have solid defense behind him, but more important, even when there was a mistake, he picked up his teammates. Though Dahl wasn't charged with an error, the play should have been an out -- Freeland made sure it didn't matter.
"Dahl had that hiccup out in the outfield to put two runners on, but at the same time, what we've been doing all year is picking each other up and doing the job," Freeland said. "It's what we were able to do."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Freeland carried the Rockies for most of his 6 2/3 innings, but he received a big lift from Story for his final out -- a diving snare of Daniel Murphy's liner with one on in the seventh.
"People would be lying to you if they told you they weren't nervous," Story said. "You really just try to channel it into your preparation, and that's what I was trying to do."
Never one to be outdone, Arenado made a diving play on a Bryant grounder in the 10th.
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"We're such a good defensive team that we understand that sometimes on offense we might not help, but we can help the team on the defensive side," Arenado said. "I was able to make a play and Story was -- that was a huge play."
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Desmond singled to open the seventh against Cubs reliever Jesse Chavez, but he was thrown out by Bryant on his daring attempt to advance on Dahl's fly to left. The inning ended on Chris Iannetta's fly ball.
But because the inning ended with Iannetta in the No. 8 position, Freeland was not lifted, and the Rockies squeezed two more outs out of him.
HE SAID IT
"That's not exactly how we drew it up. But Tony got us a big hit, Oberg was unbelievable and [everybody got] in the action. But it was great. Great win." -- Blackmon, who went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored the first run, but was removed for Davis in the eighth as Black found himself backed into a double-switch to protect future pitching moves
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Well, the ball hit someone. Unfortunately, for plate umpire Chris Guccione, it wasn't Terrance Gore.
In the 13th, Oberg's inside pitch eluded Butera and hit Guccione flush on his left arm. Gore, however, took first base as if the ball had grazed him. After the umpires ruled otherwise the Cubs challenged, but the original call stood. Gore was sent back to the batter's box -- and struck out swinging.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.