Rockies Control Their Own Post-Season Destiny
The Rockies are primed to advance to the post-season.
They open a three-game series at Coors Field against the Nationals on Friday night riding a seven-game winning streak, equaling their longest of the season. The Rockies are in first-place in the NL West, a game ahead of the Dodgers, and have a two-game edge on the Cardinals if they were to fall back into the Wild-Card race.
What’s more, they have the same record as the NL East champion Atlanta Braves, which will be the NL West champion opponent in the NL Division Series. And that means, if the NL Divison Series opened today, the Rockies would have the home-field advantage, hosting Games 1 and 2, and, if necessary, a deciding Game 5.
If the Rockies sweep the Nationals this weekend they will claim the first division title in franchise history, and their fifth post-season appearance, regardless of what the Dodgers do in their three-game series at San Francisco.
If the Rockies win two out of three this weekend, they at least would be the second NL wild-card.
Each loss by the Dodgers eliminates a win the Rockies need to clinch the NL West, and each loss by the Cardinals reduces the number of wins the Rockies would need to be assured of at least a wild-card berth.
Kyle Freeland, the ace of the Rockies rotation, will start the opening game of the series with the Nationals, who will counter with Joe Ross. Jon Gray has been announced as the Rockies starter for Saturday, but none of the other starting pitchers in the series have been made public. The decisions will rest on the status of the post-season races. The Rockies would consider bring German Marquez back on short rest if they need to win Sunday’s game to advance. The Nationals would most likely start Max Scherzer if the game impacts the post-season.
The Dodgers will face a challenge. The Giants were long ago eliminated from post-season contention, but the have a rivalry with the Dodgers that is more than 100 years old, and among the most fierce in professional sports, underscored by the fact Madison Bumgarner, at his request, skipped his scheduled start on Wednesday so he could take the mound against the Dodgers on Friday night.
Rockies Down the Stretch With a Post-Season at Stake
Stretch run: Rockies have won seven in a row, overtaking the Dodgers, going into Friday’s game against the Nationals.
Stretch run: Rockies went into the final Saturday with a three-game winning streak, and before their Saturday night game began they clinched the second NL wild-card when St. Louis defeated the Brewers. Former Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio closed out the Cardinals’ victory.
Post-season: Rockies lost Wild-Card game 11-8 at Arizona. Jon Gray gave up three runs in the first and retired one batter, giving up a fourth run, in the second. Arizona took a 6-0 lead in the third, scoring twice against Tyler Anderson.
Stretch run: Having already clinched the wild-card, the Rockies finished the season with a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. They won the first game, 4-3 to pull within two games of the Dodgers in a bid for the first division title in franchise history. The Dodgers, however, won Game 161, 5-0, on Saturday, leaving the Rockies as the wild-card.
Post-season: Rockies lost three of four to the Phillies in the NLDS. The Phillies clinched the NLDS with a 5-4 win at Coors Field, scoring three runs in the top of the ninth off Houston Street to eliminate the Rockies.
Stretch run: The Rockies won 14 of the final 15 games in the regular season, rallying from fourth place to the NL Wild-Card. They clinched the wild-card spot on the final day of the season, when San Diego lost in extra-innings at Milwaukee in a game that Tony Gwynn, Jr., delivered the game-tying triple in the ninth off Trevor Hoffman. The Rockies then beat Arizona 4-1 to earn the wild-card.
Post-season: The Rockies swept the NL East champion Phillies in three games in the NLDS, and the NL West champion D-backs in the NLCS. They then had to wait for nine days, while the Red Sox rallied from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to knock off Cleveland in the ALCS, and advance to the World Series. What impact the layoff had will never be known, but what is known is the Red Sox swept the Rockies in what was the team’s only world Series appearance in their first 25 years. And they did it by a combined 27-10 margin.
Stretch run: In the franchise’s third year of existence, and first year in Coors Field, they claimed the wild-card, which was added to the post-season schedule that year. Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes was a member of the pitching staff. The Rockies claimed the wild-card spot on the final day of the season when the Cubs lost, and the Rockies rallied from an 8-2 deficit going into the bottom of the third inning to beat the Giants, 10-9. The Rockies scored four runs in both the third and fifth innings. Holmes worked a scoreless eighth.
Post-season: The Braves won the first two games at Coors Field. After the Rockies won Game 3 in Atlanta, 7-5 with two runs top of the 10th, the Braves rebounded to close out the series in four games. The Rockies took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third of the fourth game, but Atlanta answered with four in the bottom of the third and built off that for a 10-4 win.