An old Todd Helton was the Todd Helton of old Tuesday night.
Helton was miserable last season, heightening his determination to prove people wrong. Motivated by a challenge he has never faced — it's one thing for people to say you should hit lower in the order and another to have them scream for you to retire — Helton worked out with redline intensity over the winter.
He decided if the end was near, he was going out swinging. He delivered a pair of vintage cuts Tuesday, his two home runs the fist to the face in the Rockies' 4-3 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"All those wondering about him," manager Jim Tracy said, "he's simply put all that to bed."
The Rockies' 10-3 road mark ties their best start ever, and a win today would equal their top record after 24 games (17-7 in 1997).
Helton has rarely if ever shrunk in the spotlight. Tracy moved the 37-year-old into the third spot with Carlos Gonzalez slogging through a forgettable April.
All Helton did was go deep twice for the first time since Aug. 7, 2007. Helton didn't hit his third homer last season until Aug. 7. His fifth-inning shot to dead center was all the support Jorge De La Rosa (seven innings, nine strikeouts) required for his fourth win.
"You can see the difference in Todd's leg strength," head trainer Keith Dugger said. "He didn't have that last year because of his back."
That Helton has twice as many home runs as Gonzalez from the third slot qualifies as weird, if not a defining stat this season. The Rockies' batting champion (CarGo) is hitting .214 — he received a breather Tuesday to fix his mechanics — their ace Ubaldo Jimenez has zero wins and the team owns a .239 batting average.
"What that says is that we are the greatest team in the league," said Gonzalez with a laugh. "We are doing the little things to win games."
Helton homers twice as Rockies top Cubs 4-3 in Chicago
Denver Post | Apr 27