A ninth-inning rally against one of the best closers in major league history isn’t a bad way to start a season.
Trailing by two runs in the ninth inning against Trevor Hoffman on Monday, the inexperienced Rockies seemed destined to lose their season opener. Several young players, however, made contributions and led Colorado to an improbable 12-10 victory.
Jeff Baker, who hit his first major league home run in the third inning, started the rally with a double and scored on Cory Sullivan’s double in his first career at-bat. With two outs, Aaron Miles singled home Sullivan and Clint Barmes followed with a dramatic two-run homer, his fourth hit of the game.
“First time I’ve ever hit a game-winning home run in my life, and I’m playing against a guy who has close to 400 saves,” Barmes said.
The Rockies, coming off a 94-loss season in 2004, are the youngest team in the majors with an average age of 26 years, 324 days. Tampa Bay is next at 28 years, 20 days.
“One of the things we are holding on to inside the clubhouse is that no matter what happens, they are not going to back down,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We will not be intimidated.”
The game was typical of a Coors Field contest with 30 hits, 16 for extra bases and eight home runs.
Colorado had 18 hits against six San Diego pitchers, including a career-high five by Miles, who matched a franchise record with three doubles.
Though the Rockies were thrilled with the victory, starter Joe Kennedy allowed six runs in five innings and the bullpen wasn’t much better, giving up four runs in four innings. Colorado relievers set major league records for losses (39) and blown saves (34) last season.
Xavier Nady, who had a team-high five home runs in spring training, hit two of San Diego’s five homers, an opening day team record.
Hoffman suffered his fourth blown save in 38 chances against the Rockies.
“It’s frustrating to let the first game of the year get away, and to know that as hard as our team battled, along with their team, that we walked away with a loss and you know you had a lot to do with it,” Hoffman said.
STANDINGS (through April 4): Padres - 4th place (tied), 1 GB, NL West. Rockies - 1st place, NL West.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Adam Eaton (11-14, 4.61 ERA). Eaton reached double digits in wins last season for the first time in his five-year career, but his ERA was more than half a run higher than 2003. The right-hander is probably not thrilled to be making his first start of the season at Colorado, where he allowed 19 runs and 31 hits in 16 2-3 innings over three starts last season. Eaton is 5-9 with a 6.60 ERA in 18 career starts against the Rockies.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Jennings (11-12, 5.51 ERA). The right-hander was Colorado’s best pitcher after the 2004 All-Star break, going 4-3 with a 3.19 ERA. Jennings, 23-13 lifetime at Coors Field, is second on the franchise’s all-time wins list with 43. He is 5-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 13 career starts against the Padres.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Padres - Nady, Phil Nevin and Ramon Hernandez, .500 avg.; Nady, 2 HRs and 4 RBIs; Hernandez and Nady, 2 runs; Hernandez and Eric Young, 1 SB. Rockies - Miles, .833 avg. and 3 runs; Baker, Barmes and Preston Wilson, 1 HR; Barmes and Wilson, 3 RBIs; Matt Holliday and Helton, 1 SB.
SEASON SERIES: Rockies, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - Seven of the eight position players in Monday’s lineup were in the opening day lineup last year. The last time the Padres had only one different player from one opening day to the next was from 1997 to ’98. … OF Ryan Klesko is 12-for-31 (.387) with four homers and eight RBIs lifetime against Jennings. … San Diego is 11-18 at Colorado since the start of the 2002 season. Rockies - 1B Helton is batting .333 (13-for-39) with two homers and five RBIs lifetime against Eaton. … SS Barmes is the first rookie to hit a game-ending homer in the 13-year history of the Rockies. … RHP Shawn Chacon, who battled a hamstring problem in camp, will start a minor league game in Tucson on Wednesday. He is scheduled to make his 2005 debut for Colorado on April 12 at Arizona.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 0-1 on the road; Rockies - 1-0 at home.
INJURIES: Padres - OF Dave Roberts (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL. Rockies - IF Garrett Atkins (hamstring), 15-day DL; IF Desi Relaford (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Aaron Cook (lung), 15-day DL; LHP Matthew Merricks (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chin-hui Tsao (shoulder), 15-day DL.