Former ABD Bulldog, Nolan Arenado with a defensive gem
By Troy E. Renck The Denver Post
PHILADELPHIA -- Tony La Russa couldn't help himself.
Seated in the third row of the press box at Citizens Bank Park, La Russa reacted in disbelief as Nolan Arenado made the best play of his breathtaking defensive season.
"Wow!" La Russa blurted. "What a play!"
La Russa works for the commissioner's office, the first step in the rest of his life before he enters the Hall of Fame. His jaw doesn't drop for much. This was different. This one will be referenced when Arenado wins his first gold glove.
For now, he settled for helping the Rockies win a road game, 5-3 on Tuesday over the nosediving Phillies.
Philadelphia has had little go right since all-star break, losing 22 games, ranking last in nearly every offensive category and running off the most successful manager in franchise history.
Arenado did the Phillies wrong in the seventh inning, thieving a potential game-changing hit from Jimmy Rollins. In the Rockies' finest defensive moment this year, with runners at first and second and two outs, Arenado gloved the ball cleanly. He took four steps to his right and pulled a Jeter, Tulo or Tebow jump throw, whatever is your preference or geography. Arenado squared his body in flight and fired a one-hopper to first baseman Todd Helton.
Helton didn't get any gift from baseball on his 40th birthday -- 0-fer with an error on a groundball -- but he might receive an Academy Award for his acting. He fielded the ball and in one quick stroke reached toward Rollins. It didn't appear that Helton ever touched the Phillies shortstop, but he showed the glove to the ump, selling it like it was a truck from Columbine Ford. Jim Wolf agreed, calling Rollins out. He might have had the only angle where that conclusion seemed reasonable.
Good thing expanded instant replay doesn't begin until next season.
"I thought I might have a play, because he hit hard. From my angle, he was out," Arenado said. "I was pumped up. We want to win these games."
Rollins never argued. Manager Ryne Sandberg, in his fifth game on the job, never left the dugout. Sandberg said that Rollins told him that he felt like Helton's glove hit his back.
Helton didn't crack a smile until he reached the on-deck circle.
"I didn't tag him," Helton said. "I told ump the next inning, and he couldn't believe it."
Arenado's play, part of a series of web gems this season, mattered because the offense ambushed Tyler Cloyd. The Rockies sprinted to a 5-0 lead. Troy Tulowitzki did something that suggested he's finally trusting his injured rib cage. He belted an inside pitch deep to left field, an example that he's believing in his violent swing.
Jorge De La Rosa, as he often does, picked up the win. With Rafael Betancourt closing, Matt Belisle and Rex Brothers provided manager Walt Weiss a more flexible bridge to the ninth. Belisle retired a single hitter, and Brothers, despite two balks, recorded four outs, including the Rollins' groundball that had La Russa shaking his head for several minutes.