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Should Todd Helton's walk-off have happened?

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Helton's walk-off

The epic bottom of the ninth in Coors Field on Saturday (or Sunday, depening upon your time zone) probably should never have happened.

Yes, Todd Helton's walk-off, two-run blast that lifted the Rockies to an 8-7 win over Arizona was quite a moment, but the umpiring crew erred badly in allowing the game to continue up to that point.

At that juncture of the evening, the rain was coming down in torrents rather than drops, and the game on the field wasn't quite ... baseball. D-backs closer J.J. Putz couldn't grip the ball properly, and the lack of visibility was, well, visible.

The game had already been delayed after the fourth inning for more than an hour, and by the time the final frame rolled around -- by the time the top of the final frame rolled around -- another delay or even a suspension was most assuredly in order. Had it been an earlier inning, one not so tantilizingly close to the finish line, it's hard to imagine that things would have been allowed to continue.

But continue they did. Putz, struggling to grip the seams, plunked Marco Scutaro, the first batter of the home half. Shortly thereafter, Putz had a brief exchange with first-base ump Mike Winters in which he appeared to ask how he could possibly be expected to pitch under such conditions. If you were watching, you were likely asking the same question.

Putz then managed to retire Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki (although one pitch to Tulo can best be described as "a splitter up and in"), and then Helton stepped in with the winning run on first.

Surely because Putz couldn't grip the ball properly in the downpour, what was supposed to be a split-finger was really just a high, 88-mph fastball on a tee for Helton (another "splitter up and in"), who roped it around the right-field foul pole for the victory.

Yes, credit Helton for a clutch blast, but place a healthy helping of blame on the umpires for allowing the game to go on.

In a division that could be hotly contested this season, what unfolded on Saturday night in Denver could matter quite a bit.


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