DENVER (AP) — Todd Helton has spent much of his career sending balls down the left-field line at spacious Coors Field. It was only fitting, then, that he reached a major milestone the same way.
Helton, a former Tennessee Vol, doubled for his 2,500th career hit, Michael Cuddyer homered among his four hits and the Colorado Rockies overcame the loss of starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood to beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-4 on Sunday.
Helton became the 96th player in major league history to reach 2,500 hits, and it came after a tough couple of days.
Helton homered twice Friday to move within one hit of the milestone but went 0 for 4 on Saturday. He flied out, struck out and walked Sunday before facing reliever Curtis Partch in the seventh inning.
“Every at-bat felt like it was getting longer and longer,” Helton said. “I was getting a little concerned because I definitely wanted to get 2,500 here at home in front of the home crowd.”
Helton worked the count full against Partch before lacing a 96 mph fastball down the left-field line. He just beat the throw to second for his 584th career double.
“A line-hugger that barely stayed fair, on a 3-2 count. That’s what’s kept me in the league this long,” Helton said. “That’s my bread and butter, to go the other way, especially with two strikes. To do it on the 2,500th is very fitting.”
It also was fitting he was called safe on a close play at second.
“I’ll probably remember the umpire yelling safe because he could have very easily yelled out,” Helton said.
He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 30,594 and tipped his helmet to the cheering fans. After the inning ended, the scoreboard showed a short highlight video of Helton’s career.
“As he’s been closing in on it there’s been a lot of excitement in the clubhouse,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “It’s great to be a part of it. I got to see Todd in his very first game and to be here for his 2,500th hit, it’s a great experience for me. He showed up with a lot of hype and he’s lived up to that hype. Every bit of it, and then some. It’s been an amazing career.”