Giambi's walk-off homer seals 'gigantic' win
Stewart also connects off Papelbon to bail out Jimenez
DENVER -- The joy that erupted in Coors Field in reaction to Jason Giambi's monster two-run homer that gave the Rockies an 8-6 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night started with a quiet voicemail during the winter.
The assumption was Giambi would try to continue his career in the American League. But manager Jim Tracy was so happy with how Giambi performed in the last month of last season with the Rockies, he invited Giambi back for moments like this.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
The 418-foot shot off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4) was just Giambi's third homer of the year. It came three batters after previously slumping Ian Stewart homered to open the ninth.
"This is gigantic for us," said Giambi, well aware that the Rockies, in past years known for comebacks, were 0-23 when trailing after seven innings this season. "This could be one of those times when they look back on a season and say, 'Turning points.'"
Don't look now, but the Rockies (38-33) -- who have made the playoffs two of the past three years thanks to sustained hot streaks -- are a season-best five games above .500. They've won eight of their past 11 games, and are 4-1 since inspirational leader and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki suffered a fractured left wrist that should keep him out 6-8 weeks.
"It's safe to say that's Major League baseball at its finest right there -- the drama and the theater at the end, and the step-up from the two guys that did it," Tracy said.
The wild finish was a happy occurrence of turnabout being fair play.
All season, right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez had lifted the Rockies when they were down. He was 10-0 after Rockies losses.
This time, the Rockies handed Jimenez the ball after rookie Jhoulys Chacin had vanquished the Red Sox, 2-1, Tuesday night. Jimenez looked his dominant self in the first three innings and was pitching with a 4-0 lead, but he left after 5 2/3 frames trailing, 6-5.
Jimenez gave up six earned runs on 10 hits, including two Daniel Nava doubles that drove in three runs and a Darnell McDonald two-run homer.
Jimenez entered with a 1.15 ERA and left with the figure all the way up to 1.60. But he watched the comeback on television with front office assistant and former Rockies star Vinny Castilla. The two ended up leaping around the room in unbridled joy.
"It's not only about me," Jimenez said. "It's about the team. Being able to come back, we haven't done that in a while. Everybody's happy.
"When you're in that situation, facing one of the best closers in the Major Leagues, and you're able to come back, why are you not going to be able to come back every day?"
The Rockies scored five runs in the first four innings off Red Sox starter John Lackey. Miguel Olivo's 10th homer of the season was a two-run shot in the second, right after Seth Smith had tripled. The Rockies added two runs on three hits in the third, and Jimenez singled in the fourth to drive in Clint Barmes, who had doubled.
But Jimenez proved he was human.
"It was one of those days -- he pitched well, and he made a couple mistakes," Olivo said.
Stewart had a string of "those days" -- 5-for-38 (.132) in June -- before Wednesday. The 438-foot homer, on a 1-0 fastball, was his ninth of the season, but he hadn't homered at Coors Field all season. He had gone 35 at-bats between homers.
Tracy said Stewart's homer was "a month's worth of frustration taken out on one swing."
Stewart said, dryly, "That might be right."
Clint Barmes singled and advanced on Ryan Spilborghs' bunt. Stewart sat beside Smith on the bench and expressed surprise that the Red Sox pitched to Giambi, who has homered 36 times against the Red Sox in a lengthy career spent mostly with the Athletics and the Yankees.
"You get that feeling when his music plays and everybody goes nuts," Stewart said. "Once I saw [catcher Jason] Varitek was squatting and wasn't standing, I felt like something good was going to happen."
Papelbon said Giambi homered on a 1-0 "hanging split, and usually that pitch gets deposited."
Giambi still has a .206 batting average, but there's a reason his presence brings excitement. After his swing, a sellout crowd that made significant noise for the Red Sox was purple with glee.
"I always feel like I'm one swing away," Giambi said. "I'm always excited. It's a fun role."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.