The Diamondbacks need to be on high alert this weekend, as Rockies first baseman and long-time nemesis Todd Helton is getting downright frisky in his final 10 days in the major leagues.
Not only did Helton hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning to force extra innings in the Rockies’ 7-6, 15-inning victory over the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon, he also caught base runner Matt Carpenter on the hidden ball trick, which works every decade or so.
“He’s probably been waiting 17 years to try that,” said D-backs hitting coach Don Baylor, who managed Helton in the formative years of a 17-year career that many believe is Hall of Fame-worthy.
Colorado starter Roy Oswalt walked Carpenter to open the game, and with two outs, he made two pickoff throws to first base. After the second one, Helton faked a throw back to the mound and tagged Carpenter as he stepped off the bag to tidy up.
“It’s never worked. I’ve done it five or six times, giving it a half-hearted effort. I can’t believe it worked. It’s one of those things I wanted to do my whole career,” Helton said.
In one way, the D-backs will be glad to see Helton retire. He is hitting .307 with 70 doubles, 35 home runs and 134 RBIs in 226 games against them. Helton will play his final home games next week in an interleague series with the Red Sox.
While individual accomplishments pale in comparison to team success, both the D-backs and Rockies have possible league leaders.
NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt leads the league with 119 RBIs, 16 more than anyone else, and is tied for the league lead with 34 home runs. He could become the third player in four years to lead the NL in homers and RBIs, joining Albert Pujols (2010) and Matt Kemp (2011). Goldschmidt also leads the league with a .961 OPS.
For the Rockies, Michael Cuddyer leads the NL with a .331 batting average, four percentage points ahead of former D-back Chris Johnson, now with the Braves. Cuddyer did not play Thursday because of left wrist and forearm injuries, but he is expected back Friday.
Pitching matchups: Friday: Randall Delgado (5-6, 3.98 ERA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (13-9, 3.22) Saturday: RHP Trevor Cahill (7-10, 4.12) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (16-6, 3.49). Sunday: LHP Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.17) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (8-8, 4.98).
Who’s hot for the Diamondbacks: Goldschmidt has 18 hits in his last 35 at-bats to raise his batting average to .304. He has three homers and 12 RBIs during that nine-game run. … A.J. Pollock has 10 hits in his last 24 at-bats. … Aaron Hill has 12 hits in his last 32 at-bats, with two homers and five RBIs. … Adam Eaton has nine hits in his last 30 at-bats, with three doubles and five RBIs.
Who’s not hot for the Diamondbacks: Corbin has given up 23 earned runs in his last 26 2/3 innings and has two scheduled starts remaining. … Gerardo Parra has five hits in his last 26 at-bats. … Will Harris has given up eight hits and six earned runs to the last 12 batters he has faced.
Who’s hot for the Rockies: Cuddyer has 11 hits in his last 28 at-bats, with two homers and five RBIs. … Chacin hasn’t given up more than four earned runs in any of his last 18 starts and has given up four runs only three times, the last in an 8-2 loss to the D-backs on Sunday. … Troy Tulowitzki has 11 hits in his last 29 at-bats, with a homer and five RBIs.
Who’s not hot for the Rockies: Rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado has five hits in his last 28 at-bats and has not played since aggravating a thumb injury Monday … De La Rosa had not pitched since Sept. 10, when he aggravated thumb injury while giving up four runs in two innings.
Notes, quotes, odds and ends: The D-backs (77-75) are not going to make the playoffs. They would have to win their last 10 games and have the Reds (87-66) lose their last nine just to force a playoff for the final wild-card spot. The Nationals would also have to lose at least four of their final nine games in that scenario. … The D-backs need to split their final 10 games to finish above .500 after going 81-81 last season. … Cuddyer is attempting to carry on Colorado’s tradition of batting champions. The Rockies have had the league leader seven times since entering the league in 1993: Andres Galarraga (1993), Larry Walker (1998-99, 2001) Helton (2000), Matt Holliday (2007) and Carlos Gonzalez (2010). … Gonzalez appeared as a defensive replacement Monday but is not expected to bat the rest of the season. He suffered a strained middle finger when he swung and missed at a Corbin pitch in a July series at Chase Field. … Goldschmidt is hitting .364 with a homer and six RBIs against Chacin and has reached base safely in his last five plate appearances, with a double, homer, single, walk and walk.