Helton milestone delayed by former teammate

One day after he turned back the clock, driving in six runs for the first time in 10 years, Todd Helton looked all of 40 years old Saturday night, striking out three times and putting off career hit No. 2,500 for another day.

“That’s this game,” he said after going 0-for-4 in the Reds’ 8-3 victory over the Rockies.

“I mean, the last two games is this game summed up. You can be great one day and have a hat trick the next. That’s just the way it goes. That’s why it’s so important to keep your emotions in check and show up the next day ready to play.”

The oddest part of it was the guy who handcuffed him and his teammates for eight innings.

Greg Reynolds is the biggest draft bust in Rockies history. The second overall pick in 2006, the 6-foot-7-inch Reynolds suffered a shoulder injury before getting to the big leagues and never was the power pitcher the Rocks thought they were getting when they passed on Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum to take him.

In two big league stints with the Rocks, Reynolds went 5-8 with a 7.47 earned-run average. Now 28, he pitched eight innings in his third start for the Reds, surrendering three runs and seven hits and earning his first big league win in more than two years. If it hadn’t been for a two-run homer by Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson in the eighth, his numbers would have been even better.

“He threw the ball well,” Helton said. “He threw about like I remember, he just didn’t make any mistakes and he didn’t have the cutter that he has now. That proved to be his best pitch tonight, at least to me, that cutter.”

Helton’s two three-run homers Friday night gave him 2,499 career hits. For his final at-bat Friday and each of his four plate appearances Saturday, the crowd at Coors Field gave him a standing ovation in anticipation of No. 2,500.

“I definitely feel it, but I like it,” Helton said. “I put so much pressure on myself to get a hit every time, it’s no different than the pressure I put on myself, but it proved to be a little tough tonight. That’s the beautiful thing about this game and the tragic thing about this game is one night you can be great and the next night you can do what I did. But that’s why you don’t get too high when things go good, and vice versa.”

In fact, 37,616 fans showed up Saturday for the opportunity to see a little history.

Helton got good wood on a Reynolds fastball in the second inning, driving it deep to left-center field, but he put enough air under it to allow Cincinnati center fielder Shin-Soo Choo time to range over and catch it.

Helton struck out in each of his final three at-bats, the first two against Reynolds and the third against reliever Sam LeCure in the ninth.

“He threw mostly fastballs, really,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Reynolds. “He two-seamed it and he cut it and he commanded it. But he did it almost exclusively with a couple different fastballs.”

Normally, Weiss rests Helton in day games following night games, which is the situation Sunday. But with Kershaw, arguably the best lefty in the game, scheduled to start at Coors for the Dodgers on Labor Day, there’s a pretty good chance Helton will start Sunday in the series finale against the Reds.

“Kershaw going Monday, so, yeah, exactly, that’s the coversation I’m going to have with him,” Weiss said Saturday night.

“I’m going to try,” Helton said. “I’m going to hopefully go home and get some rest and wake up and see how I feel. But, yeah, the plan is to play tomorrow.”

“If he’s good to go, sure, we’ll run him out there,” Weiss added, “but I’ll check with him, see how he’s doing.”

About Dave Krieger

Dave Krieger is a recidivist newspaperman. View all posts by Dave Krieger

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