The 21,583 fans brave enough to tough out the rain and wind at Coors Field didn’t have much to cheer about through 6 ½ innings on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That all changed when Chris Iannetta stepped up to bat from the eighth position during the bottom of the seventh inning.
The veteran catcher sent a 77.5 mph curveball on a 1-1 count deep over the left centerfield wall for his fourth home run of the season and second hit of the game.
The 411 ft two-run homer broke a 2-2 deadlock. Prior to the homer, the Rockies had only connected on five hits to the Diamondbacks nine.
“It was a tough pitch because it kept backing up on me,” Iannetta said. “I knew I hit it pretty good, it was just a matter of if I hit it too high. “
The play was a major momentum shifter for the home team. The Rockies blew the game open and never looked back en route to a 6-2 victory in game two of the divisional series.
“We're getting contributions from everybody,” Rockies Manager Bud Black said. “That was a big swing. That was the biggest swing of the night for sure.”
Iannetta finished the evening 2-for-3.
His strong hitting performance backed up the numbers that he has been putting up recently. It was also his consecutive start with a home run. He hit a solo bomb in Saturday's 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Since a lat injury on May 3rd, Iannetta has struggled to get playing time behind Tony Wolters. However, in his limited appearances, the Rockies have benefited from his strong hitting in the eighth position.
“It’s a tough place to hit. It really is. You're not going to see a lot of pitches depending on the situation of the game,” Iannetta said. “You have to really be stubborn for your pitch. It comes in waves. It goes up, it goes down, you hit well, you struggle. It’s just baseball.”
He started Tuesday’s game because of a hand contusion that Tony Wolters suffered in Monday’s game. Wolter’s has been solid offensively all season long, but Black has been impressed with Iannetta’s hitting recently.
“He's in a really good spot with his swing,” Black said. “(He’s) hit a ball hard the last few times, he's played a lot of his at-bats. That's a great sign for us offensively."
Iannetta credited some additional work he did while injured for helping improve his success at the plate.
“It was breaking some of the habits that developed in the offseason,” Iannetta said. “I really started working on going the other way. It was too much muscle tension, and it took me a really long time to get out of that.”
He also credited switching his contacts with allowing him to see the ball better. Ironically, it was lessoning his prescription that helped. The contacts he had been using made his vision clearer in tests, but made his eyes fatigue over time.
At this stage of the 36-year-old’s career, he has seen hot and cold streaks come and go. He is more focused on helping the team win games anyway that he can.
“I try and just find ways to contribute offensively, contribute defensively, contribute in the clubhouse,” Iannetta said. “However I can, I just want to be on a winning team that makes the playoffs and makes it to the World Series, and eventually wins the World Series.”
Rockies fans will remember, Iannetta was a rookie on the team’s memorable 2007 run to the World Series. They were swept by the Red Sox, and Iannetta didn’t play much down the stretch that season. Today, he hopes he can get another chance to compete for the championship that eluded him and the Rockies 12 years ago.