Rockies Reaffirm Role In NL West ; Dodgers Given Cold (Coors) Shoulder
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The Rockie made a statement during the weekend.
And trust me, it was heard, loud and clear, throughout the NL West.
They are very much alive in the battle for a post-season spot. Now, it's not going to be easy. This week, alone, they face the challenge of first going to Houston for two games against the defending world champion, AL West-leading Astros, and then four games in Atlanta against the NL East-leading Braves.
But they didn't pack their bags and go home after disappointments of a week ago. They rebounded during the weekend to reaffirm their desire to be playing meaningful games in the coming weeks.
Think about it.
They had lost two out of three to the Pirates last week, the first home series they had lost since being swept by the Diamondbacks two months earlier, and then, in the opening game of a four-game weekend series against the Dodgers they rallied to take a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh only to see the Dodgers celebrate an 8-5 victory.
A beleaguered Rockies bullpen gave up five home runs -- that's right five -- and seven runs in the final three innings.
The doomsayers were out in full force.
Yes, the Rockies were only 3 1/2 games back of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, who shared not only the lead in the NL West, but also the second NL wild-card spot. But after a July that created anticipation, the Rockies had opened August losing eight of 11 -- three of four in St. Louis, two of three in Milwaukee, two of three against the Pirates and the the first game of a four-game series against the Dodgers.
The Rockies response?
--Three consecutive wins against a Dodgers' team that after Thursday night had won six in a row and eight of their last 10 games at Coors Field?
--A Rockies bullpen that would combine to allow just two runs in eight innings combined in the three victories.
--A Rockies offense that rallied for three late-inning wins, including back-to-back walk-off victories to close out the series -- the first time they had back-to-back walkoffs since May of 2014, and only the 10th time in the history of a franchise that is in its 26th year of existence.
How about that?
The Rockies found themselves not only 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Diamondbacks, but now 2 1/2 games back of the Brewers for the second wild-card. The Dodgers? They are a half-game upon the Rockies, but in addition to losing three games, they lost the game's most dominate closer, Kenley Jansen, to an irregular heartbeat, which will sideline him for at least a month.
Yes, Virginia, there is a post-season opportunity.
"Our guys, including me, the coaches and players, we are going to count on each other," said manager Bud Black. "That's important to realize about this group.
"As we go through every night, we don't know how the game is going to unload, but there is going to be certain spots during the course of the game that somebody is going to have to do something positive, whether it's a pitcher getting an out, a defending making a player or a hitter having a good at-bat. It could fall at the top of the order. It could in the middle or could fall toward the bottom. We know now when it will happen, but I do know this, our guys will depend on each other. That's a good group in there, very unselfish. A lot of god teammates who pull for each other. That's awesome."
And in the last three games it fell to the lower part of the order, which responded well.
First came Ryan McMahon, with one out in the bottom of the seventh on Friday, the Dodgers leading 4-3, a man on base, facing a left-on-left situation. And he turned on a 1-0 pitch from Zac Rosscup to deliver the game-winning home run in a 5-4 Rockies victory.
Then came McMahon, again, on Saturday night, the Rockies trailing 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and two men on base. And he turned on a 1-0 pitch from Scott Alexander, delivering a three-run, walk-off home run.
And then came the Sunday finale. The Dodgers rallied for two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth, tying the score at 3-3. Then, with two out in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Dylan Floro intentionally walked McMahon to load the bases for Chris Iannetta, who worked the count full before drawing a bases-loaded, walk-off walk for another Rockies victory.
"It's what happened," said Black. "Its reality. Our guys rose to the occassional in games all weekend.
"You talk about being in a mental spot to handle it. You talk about mentally doing th right thing. At this point in the season you can get tired. It's the dog days. It's hot. But you have to stay mentally sharp."
It's about not giving up.