May of 2000 was the month Todd Helton officially planted his flag on first base at Coors Field to stake his claim as one of the finest ballplayers of his generation.
After two consecutive seasons of incredible offensive production, the entirety of MLB turned its eyes to Denver during the fifth month of the new century.
A pair of multi-hit performances (4-for-5 and 5-for-5) in Montréal at Olympic Stadium was followed by a 6-for-11 performance during a three-game series loss in Houston.
Back home on Blake Street, the 26-year-old punished the rival San Francisco with a 5-for-5 night, including three doubles that helped tally to a club record 59 by season’s end, most in the National League since Joe Medwick’s 64 in 1936.
On this date in 2000, Helton added two more hits in three at bats to help Colorado seal the second of what would be three consecutive victories against the last place Giants.
With a 2-for-4 afternoon in the series sweeping win, the Tennessee native wrapped up his week batting .609 (14-for-23) with four home runs and nine runs batted in, good for his second National League Player of the Week Award.
By the end of May, he’d be selected as the NL Player of the Month and set a franchise record for most home runs (11) in the month.
In several weeks, he’d be voted to his first All-Star Game and further down the line would be a fifth-place finish in NL MVP voting, including one first-place vote.
Straight Gettin’ It
Denny Stark, acquired with Brian Fuentes and José Paniagua from the Seattle Mariners for Jeff Cirillo in the offseason, tossed six shutout innings in his Rockies debut on the way to a ninth-place finish in the 2002 National League Rookie of the Year Award. Greg Norton slugged a pinch-hit grand slam, one of only 12 in franchise history, in a 7-3 win against the Florida Marlins at home.
The Rockies split a doubleheader with the Pittsburgh Pirates as only Helton and Vinny Castilla recorded a hit in both ends in 2004.
Can’t Win For Losing
San Francisco won 15-2 at Coors Field as Fred Lewis singled to right field in the seventh inning off Denny Bautista to complete the final leg of the cycle in 2007. Lewis became the third player to do so against Colorado and the fourth player in Major League history to hit his first career homer as part of a cycle.
Following Ian Stewart’s grand slam the night before, Chris Iannetta does the same, but it’s not enough to defeat the Houston Astros and Denver Public Schools’ advocate Mike Hampton in 2009.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim defeated the Rockies 2-1 in 11 innings thanks to a sacrifice fly by Albert Pujols off Christian Friedrich in 2015 for Colorado’s 11th straight loss.
Colorado defeats the New York Mets and three Hall of Famers (Roberto Alomar, Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine) on this date in 2003 thanks to a seven-run comeback. Down 6-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Preston Wilson added a home run and Brent Butler laced a two-run double to aid in the 9-8 win.
On This Day In Baseball History
In 2016, MLB extends the suspension of José Reyes to May 31 – a total of 51 games – following an off-season domestic violence incident. Criminal charges are dropped, but the administrative leave and suspension costs the Rockies shortstop $7M in salary.