05/21/11 8:07 PM EST
Hammel shrugs off first career homer
By JR Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
One day after the Rockies pitcher hit his first career home run off the Brewers ace -- a two-run blast in the third inning Friday that gave his team a 2-1 lead -- the right-hander was predictably classifying the event as more of a fluke than an indicator of future shots.
"I just jumped a fastball," Hammel said. "I figured with the way he threw a fastball for a strike, I was way behind on it [on strike one]. Slider [on strike two] probably could have been a strike, but he called it a ball. I figured he wouldn't want to go 2-1 on another slider. I was just trying to get the head out on a fastball. He provided all the power."
The last pitcher to go deep for the Rockies was Jason Jennings in May 2004, and he also took one of the game's better pitchers deep when he tagged Chicago Cubs craftsman Greg Maddux. After Rockies pitchers clubbed 20 home runs (half by Mike Hampton) from 2000-03, Jennings' was the last before a long dry spell.
Hammel cited Esmil Rogers, a player originally drafted as a position player, and reliever Matt Belisle as other hurlers on the team with the power to go deep.
"A lot of our pitchers actually are pretty good with the bats," Hammel said. "We can hit, but we can't get the head out."
CarGo back, but Helton still sits
MILWAUKEE -- One Rockies regular went back to full duty Saturday, and another moved slightly closer. Carlos Gonzalez, who left Thursday's game with a strained groin and was relegated to pinch-hitting duty Friday in Milwaukee, was in his customary left field slot Saturday and batting third.
Meanwhile, Todd Helton was given another day to rest his creaky back, with versatile Ty Wigginton given the start at first one night after he delivered three hits and scored twice while filling in for Gonzalez in left.
"My understanding is [Helton's] going to do all the pregame work, take his ground balls and take some swings and see where he's at, and what it would do for us is put him in play for something tonight," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "If he feels OK, he could be a consideration for us tomorrow."
Gonzalez looked pretty able when he flied out to the warning track in the 10th inning of Friday's 14-inning thriller, and even more able when he hit a solo homer in his first at-bat Saturday night.
Tracy also said right-handed pitcher Esmil Rogers, who has been on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 2 with a right lat strain, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.
Jason Giambi, who has four home runs in two days, was not in the lineup to reprise the role of temporary starting first baseman, and Tracy reiterated the importance of keeping the 40-year-old fresh.
"If we keep pushing that envelope, you won't see the same [thing] that you saw the last couple days, and we may end up losing something very special that you have sitting in here for a late-inning situation," Tracy said. "What we've done the last couple some days in getting him a number of at-bats was what he needed. We got him in a pretty good place now, and we'll find games here and there to plug him back in."
Tracy not belaboring Tulo's ejection
MILWAUKEE -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he didn't want to be "hurling stones" in the wake of his star shortstop's ejection Friday by home plate umpire Rob Drake, the result of a confrontation that appeared to be over.
Troy Tulowitzki, who was ejected for arguing a called third strike in the eighth inning, said a contentious relationship with Drake began two innings earlier after Brewers starter Zack Greinke threw a pitch behind him, and Drake didn't acknowledge the possibility that Greinke was trying to send a retaliatory message. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun had been hit by a pitch in the fifth.
"My gut was that we had done everything we could possibly do to get him away from the situation," said Tracy, who intervened and escorted Tulowitzki within mere steps of the dugout when Drake finally made the ejection. "We were kind of hopeful, it's done, maybe we'll just move on. I guess [Drake] stayed with the player and saw something else."
The third strike came on a "quick pitch" from Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who took the ball and immediately fired a shot over the plate. Tulowitzki said he believed the pitch caught Drake by surprise, as well, leaving him out of position to accurately see the location of the pitch.
It was the first ejection of Tulowitzki's career. Though nobody was aware at the time, the game had six more innings left to play, meaning Tulowitzki missed out on multiple at-bats in the eventual 7-6 loss.
"In the moment out there, going through all the emotions and stuff it's really not something you think about," Tulowitzki said Friday night.
The heartbreak of Friday's game for the Rockies is a seldom-experienced phenomenon. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Friday's game between the Rockies and Brewers marked the first time a team had hit two game-tying or go-ahead home runs in extra innings since June 21, 2003, when Jim Thome tied the game in the 12th for Philadelphia against Boston, and Todd Pratt won the game with a two-run homer in the 13th.
Milwaukee's Yuniesky Betancourt tied the game in the 13th with a solo homer off Huston Street on Friday, and Prince Fielder's two-run shot in the 14th off Felipe Paulino gave Milwaukee a 7-6 victory, both erasing Colorado leads. It marked the first time in Rockies history the team had surrendered three blown saves in the same game.
Saturday starter Clayton Mortensen entered the night with the third lowest ERA (2.01) among National League rookie pitchers. Only Josh Collmenter of Arizona (0.69) and Mike Dunn of Florida (1.80) had better marks with a minimum of 20 innings pitched. Mortensen is also third behind that same pair in opponents' batting average among NL rookie pitchers.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.