Being in the middle of the action mattered little to Cincinnati Reds right-hander Nick Masset(notes), who appeared to be the last guy inside of Coors Field who realized pinch runner Chris Nelson(notes) was breaking for home plate.
In yet another head-shaking moment in Colorado Rockies comeback lore, Nelson stole the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Thursday afternoon after Masset astonishingly turned the wrong direction twice during a belated pickoff attempt.
Masset's mental vacation allowed Nelson to slide home safely with the deciding run in Colorado's 6-5 victory, their seventh straight, which gave them a four-game sweep of the Reds and helped to bring them within 3 1/2 games of first place in the NL West.
"It's one of those things you think will never happen, and it happened," said [Masset, whose team dropped its fifth straight to finish 1-6 on its road trip].
After Troy Tulowitzki(notes) tied the score with a solo homer leading off the eighth, the Rockies put runners at the corners for Miguel Olivo(notes). With a 1-1 count, the Rockies bench called for a suicide squeeze — but Nelson, a 25-year-old rookie with no career stolen base attempts, had a keener idea.
He noted that Masset wasn't paying any attention to him, and that third baseman Scott Rolen(notes) was playing far from the bag. Masset didn't see Nelson make a charge for home, but loud noises spooked him into turning away from the developing play.
Masset said he heard shouts of "Step off!" come from his teammates. Does that explain why Masset turned toward second base — which was unoccupied — and then first base, while Nelson booked for home and scored easily?
No, it doesn't. So what might?
• A disembodied A-Rod yelling, "Ha!" (This theory is universally believed in Canada.)
• A merry prankster on the Rockies, realizing how much Masset is like Doug the Dog from "Up!", shouts "Squirrel!"
• The thin mountain air depriving the brain of required oxygen.
Masset was contrite, but he otherwise added nothing as to the "Why?"
"I turned around and by the time I looked to third base the guy was halfway home and I didn't have a chance to get him," Masset said. "It was a complete mistake on my part. You should check the runner at third right away and go from that. I passed that because normally you get the guy at first who is trying to be sneaky. It was a complete mishap on my part. It is embarrassing, something that should never have happened, just something you never see before."
The Rockies had climbed all of the way back from a 5-0 deficit in the second inning. They even survived an apperance by Aroldis Chapman(notes), who got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when Carlos Gonzalez(notes) hit into a double play.
Reds manager Dusty Baker could not believe his own record would now have such a mark against it.
"I don't think I've ever lost a game like that — a steal at home. [...] They say if you've been around this game long enough, you see everything," [Baker said, alluding to his 1,000 or so years in the majors.]
"That was a really risky play on their end that paid off," Votto said. "It worked for them today. I would say nine times out of 10, you're out at home."
That's right, shame on the Rockies for risky tactics!
Nelson was happy that his first career stolen base attempt worked out so well.
"Once I made up my mind I was going, I was going," Nelson said.
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