Let Rocktober begin!

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Before Saturday night’s game, the Brewers collapsed by giving up a 6-0 lead to the Cardinals, effectively eliminating them from the playoffs and guaranteeing the Rockies their first playoff spot since 2009. Colorado will head out to Arizona for a duel in the desert against the Dbacks for an inter-division playoff game that will then begin an inter-division playoff series against the Dodgers.

The Cardinals eliminating the Brewers, instead of the Rockies winning and eliminating them, took a way a little of the luster of clinching, but when you make the playoffs for the first time in eight years, who cares how you do it. With the whole club watching the game and seeing it come to an end, the clubhouse erupted into congratulations and the Rockies took to the field to a home crowd that was more than excited to see the Rockies back in the playoffs.

Obviously the real celebration would not begin until after the game, but once it ended the Rockies celebrated like any team should. For most of these guys, this is the first time they will taste the playoffs. Star players like Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado will be making their first visit. Young guys like Jon Gray, Trevor Story, and Raimel Tapia are also making a first time appearance, albeit much earlier in their careers.

But the Rockies do have some returning playoff players. Carlos Gonzalez is the only Rockies who remains from the 2009 appearance and will hope to do damage to carry the Rockies to a successful playoff run. Ian Desmond, Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra, and Jonathan Lucroy all make a return to the postseason, this time with a club that is a young contender. Having the playoff experience of these guys will be huge as they know the atmosphere, but first and foremost, the Rockies need to win the wild card game.

Zack Greinke will face off against Jon Gray for a huge series for both of these clubs. Many of the Rockies have had success, with Cargo, Story, LeMahieu, and Lucroy all batting over .300 against him. Similarly, the Dbacks have players with success against Jon Gray, though the successes and struggles are more spread out. Some players are hitting over .400, Pollock, Peralta, Owings, while others are doing terrible against Gray. Paul Goldschmidt is hitless against Gray in eleven at bats, for example. Regardless, this is a game for the ages, at least as far as the new age of Rockies goes.

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Rockies cruise closer to Wild Card

John Leyba, The Denver Post

With a 9-1 win and four home runs on Friday night, the Rockies came one game closer to the second Wild Card spot. Unfortunately they couldn’t clinch as the Brewers won their game against the Cardinals, so it will be at least one more game for the Rockies chance to clinch.

The scoring started early for the Rockies with Nolan Arenado clubbing a two out homer to center. Following that, Trevor Story singled and Reynolds drove him in with a two run homer to right center, giving the Rockies an early 3-0 lead. In the second inning, the Rockies got another two-run homer from Charlie, giving them a 5-0 lead and plenty of run support for Bettis who rebounded nicely after his recent struggles.

Bettis would allow only one run in the game, a single by Justin Turner drove it in, but he induced a lot of mishit ground balls and did extremely well for the Rockies. He went seven innings while walking only one and allowing four hits, with three of those coming in the third inning. It was Bettis’ best start since his return from the DL and a hopeful sign of things to come for Bettis if he pitches in the post season.

The Rockies got another home run and more runs in the fourth and fifth innings to pile on to their lead. Trevor Story hit a two-run homer, one of three hits on the day for him, and Charlie Blackmon drove in a run on a single for his third RBI of the game. It was really a great game for the Rockies and hopefully gives them some momentum on Saturday to give them the clinching win.

Currently, the Brewers are up on the Cardinals so it seems as though the Rockies will need to win themselves. They take on Kershaw with German Marquez countering him in what will be a tough game to win for Colorado.

Series Preview: Dodgers (102-57) vs. Rockies (86-73)

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Friday, September 29th 6:10pm: Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-8 3.47) vs. Chad Bettis (1-4 5.72)

Ryu has made three starts against Colorado this year, but has not made one since May 11th, a start in which he gave up ten runs (five earned) over four innings. This series means little for the Dodgers as they can only clinch home field in the World Series, whereas the Rockies are fighting for their first playoff spot since 2009. They have a good chance as and combination of two wins by Colorado and losses by the Brewers seals the wild card for them and they get to finish at home. Chad Bettis makes the series opening start which is not the best thing, but in big games Bettis has been known to perform and this is a huge game for him and the Rockies.

Saturday, September 30th 6:10pm: Clayton Kershaw (18-4 2.21) vs. German Marquez (11-7 4.38)

Before September came, Marquez was in the conversation to start the Wild Card game if the Rockies made it. However, he has struggled in September and this is a start in which he needs to rebound. There is likely some arm fatigue which is why the Rockies would love to clinch on Friday and give Marquez a little bit of a break on Saturday, but that is something that might have to wait. Facing Kershaw, the Rockies do not get any break in terms of who they play against. Kershaw is likely not going to make a full start, but he can be extremely efficient and it should not be counted on that he will get removed early, unless the Rockies can force that removal, which they did in their last start against Kershaw in LA.

Sunday, October 1st 1:10pm: TBD vs. TBD

Ideally, this game will be meaningless for both teams with the Rockies hopefully clinching in either of the two prior games. The Rockies will probably go to Anderson if this game does not need to be won and Gray if it does. Either way, it looks like one of those pitchers, pending the Rockies involvement in the Wild Card, will make the game start based on who does not start the season finale. Regardless of the outcome of this season, it has been a huge improvement on last year’s record and has proven to be a sign of good things to come. With the rotation strengthened mightily with all of the rookies and Bud Black at the helm, there is a lot to be happy about and a lot to look forward to.

Offensive explosion puts Rockies a game closer

David Zalubowski, AP

The Rockies went off for 15 runs on Wednesday to counter the Marlins 9 runs. The Marlins got closer late, but by then the Rockies had already amounted enough offense to make it not much of a game. Every starting position player scored for Colorado and they accumulate 14 hits, 10 walks, and only five strikeouts.

The Marlins scored six late runs, but against starter Jon Gray they had much less success. Gray did give up a home run to AJ Ellis, that at the time cut the Rockies six run lead in half, but Colorado quickly scored three runs to give Gray the run support right back.

In the game, Charlie Blackmon tallied his 100th RBI and 99th out of the leadoff spot which puts him one away from the all time record out of the leadoff spot, something he should be able to get in the finale series against the Dodgers. The game also saw Trevor Story, Ian Desmond, and Cargo tally seven hits and ten RBI, something that has eluded the three hitters all year long. It was a great game to get the offense going and the Rockies just need to hold on to that momentum for a few more games to earn a playoff spot.

The Brewers and Cardinals lost on Wednesday lowering the Rockies magic number to two and one respectively. They also guarantee that the Brewers have to win out to steal the playoff spot while the Rockies would have to get swept. With the Brewers playing on Thursday, a loss could really hurt their season while the Rockies get an off day to prep themselves for the final series.

Rox shutout Marlins to lower magic number

Tyler Manderson was fantastic on Tuesday as he and the Rockies bullpen shutout the Marlins and allowed only five hits to the them. It was Anderson’s best start of the year and with the run support he received the Rockies cruised to an easy victory to lower their magic number to four over the Brewers and three over the Cardinals.

The Rockies almost failed to capitalize on a first inning, first and third, no outs opportunity. After Charlie walked and LeMahieu fisted a hit to right field to move Blackmon to third, Cargo grounded into a double play that scored a run but emptied the bases for the Rockies. Arenado and Reynolds hit singles to put two on for Story and with two outs and a full count, Story lined a ball over the right field wall for a three-run homer. It was nearly a wasted inning, but thanks to the long ball the Rockies got all the runs they would need in the game.

Colorado would get two more runs in the fifth for some stat padding to Arenado’s MVP worthy season. On a ball low in the zone, Arenado launched a ball to center for a two-run shot, his 36th of the year and his league high 129th RBIs. The runs were inconsequential in the scheme of the game, but it helps Arenado’s case for MVP.

Tyler Anderson allowed only four hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking none. Along with his efforts, Chris Rusin, and Mike Dunn allowed only five hits to the Marlins and walked none in the game. The Rockies have held Stanton down, allowing only one hit, a double that was worthless.

The Rockies go out for the series finale and send their ace, Jon Gray, to hopefully hold the Marlins down. While Gray has been excellent at home this year, he has not been good against the Marlins. Something has to give in this game so hopefully it goes in the way of Gray and the Rockies and he continues his streak of allowing three runs or less for the 13th straight game.

Rox lose ground to idle Brewers

marlins-rockies-baseball-84191-jpg.jpegAP Photo/David Zalubowski

With the Cardinals losing and the Brewers not playing on Monday, the Rockies had the great opportunity of gaining ground on both teams trailing them. However, one misplayed ball cost the Rockies the game as a bases clearing double gave the Marlins enough runs to keep the Rockies out of it.

In the fourth inning with a run already in, Miguel Rojas lifted a ball to left field that twisted Ian Desmond around enough to make him come up short of the ball. It bounced off the top of his glove and this allowed all three runners to score. Had Parra been in left instead of Desmond, the play may have gone differently as well as the game going differently, but that was not the case and it essentially cost the Rockies the game.

For the first time in a long time they actually showed some fight to get back into the game. Charlie Blackmon doubled in a run in the fifth to bring the game to a score of 4-1, but that run was erased by Rojas as he doubled in a run. But the Rockies did rally back to come within a run.

They got an RBI groundout, a solo shot from Jonathan Lucroy, and a sac fly from Arenado to bring the game to 5-4. There were missed opportunities in the game that the Rockies blew and ultimately those killed the comeback.

A leadoff triple by Jonathan Lucroy in the third gave the Rockies the chance to take an early lead, but they could not score him. Trevor Story nearly hit a ball out before Lucroy’s long ball, but he hit it to the deepest part of the park and it was caught by Ozuna. In that same inning, with one out and the bases loaded and Arenado up, they got only the one run from the sac fly, better than nothing but certainly not what the Rockies needed.

In the ninth the Rockies got their leadoff man on, but failed to advance him to even second base as Cargo struck out and Blackmon lined into a double play to end the game. The Rockies had chances to win, or at the very least, tie this game, but they never got the key hit that has eluded them so often this year.

Series Preview: Marlins vs. Rockies

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Monday, September 25th 6:40pm: Odrisamer Despaigne (0-3 4.37) vs. Tyler Chatwood (8-13 4.56)

In Chatwood’s last two starts at home, he has seemingly straightened out his home struggles. Chatwood has gone 8.2 innings while allowing only two runs in his last home starts and he will hope to replicate that success in this second to last series of the year. Along with the Rockies going for a playoff spot, this series has other historic implications. Gianacarlo Stanton has absolutely hammered the Rockies in his career and he is also staring down the most home runs ever (in the non-steroid era). There is a good chance he can take a run at the faux-record and there will be a lot to watch in this series.

Tuesday, September 26th 6:40pm: Jose Urena (14-6 3.55) vs. Tyler Anderson (5-6 5.24)

Since Jose Fernandez’s passing, the Marlins have gotten another Jose to take his place as ace of the staff. Jose Urena has been really strong and while not the Cy Young pitcher Fernandez was, Urena is young and has lots of potential, especially for a Miami team that will be under new ownership and likely changing a lot going into the 2018 season. Tyler Anderson, like Tyler Chatwood, has been strong in the more recent month and this bodes well for the Rockies. Again, Stanton will be the player to watch as the entire Rockies offense will have to replicate whatever offensive output he has in this series.

Wednesday, September 27th 1:10pm: Adam Conley (7-7 5.74) vs. Jon Gray (9-4 3.62)

This is excellent timing with the Rockies having their ace in the series finale, both to improve their playoff chances and to hopefully make the wild card game start, if the Rockies make it in. Jon Gray has been great over his past 12 starts giving up no more than three runs in each. He has struggled with getting length out of his starts, but keeping the team in it is of utmost importance, especially with expanded bullpens where length is not as important as it is in the early months. The Rockies would love to use this series as an opportunity to expand their lead, and maybe even clinch the wild card spot, but they need to get hot to do so.