It is only five days before we flip the calendar to August marking the beginning of the dog days and the end of the non-waiver trade deadline. There are reasons for the Colorado Rockies to be optimistic about Rocktober after being mired in the June swoon eight games back in the West and behind several teams in the hunt for the wild card. It has almost always been a guarantee the Rockies will begin their slow and steady decline into oblivion after the All Star game intermission.
They have all but two series (San Diego) against teams at .500 or above. Since the “I’m tired of losing” comment by Nolan Arenado, the purple clad team decide that they will no longer be pushovers in the second half. Colorado started the second half with a three-game series in Arizona and they had a chance to sweep the series, but the Sunday bug continued to plague them. Then the World Series champs from Houston came to Coors field for a two-game set.
There was a playoff feel atmosphere in those two games. In the first game, Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer in the first inning which made it feel almost insurmountable considering that Gerritt Cole was on the mound for the Astros. Somehow Colorado managed to even the game at 2-2 to take it into extra inning. Houston ran away with six runs in the first extra frame to win the game, 8-2.
The Rockies were determined to not be pushovers in the Wednesday game. CarGo got the scoring started with a screaming line shot to the bullpen. The Hasshros came back with two runs on a walk, double, and two errors to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Then the drama started. Raimel Tapia failed to read the batted ball that went over the second baseman’s head stopping at third base instead of scoring. Now you have Arenado at the plate with the bases juiced and less than two outs. He hit the shortest sac fly in history of baseball (except it wasn’t technically a sac fly as it has to reach the outfield). The third baseman caught the pop up flipping into the dugout. Tapia redeemed himself by tagging up and scoring on the pop up taking advantage of his tumble into the dugout.
Otto and Wade Davis went back to work for the second night in a row after The Gray Wolf tossed a one-hitter through seven innings giving up two runs (one unearned). They combined for no hits and a single walk keeping the game at 2-2. With one out, Chuck Nazty came to the plate and sent the fans clad in purple home very happy with a no doubter into the bullpen. It was like a gut punch for the Astros and their fans which seemingly was half of the crowd.
It was not the end of the drama. Bregman, wearing #2 no less, has become the favorite target of hated players by the Rockies fans. He was always a crybaby arguing every ball and strike, including a checked swing strikeout. But he endeared himself to the Rockies fans after he hit a “triple” that Parra had a bead on to catch it. But an Astros fan stuck his glove out in front of Parra and knocked the ball down before Parra could catch it. After a replay review, it was an easy call to make and Bregman was ruled out. Bregman continued to argue about that call after the ruling and in the post game interview. What makes him an even more inviting target was that he was drafted just ahead of Brendan Rodgers as the #2 overall pick. Bregman has replaced Crybaby Timmy Lincicom as the new hate target.
The streaking Oakland A’s comes to Denver for a three-game set this weekend. Kyle Freeland will open up the series Friday night before German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela go on Saturday and Sunday.
There’s a lot of reasons for optimism as we get into the dog days. Three of the rotation members (Gray, Tyler Anderson, and Freeland) have stepped up, going seven innings of quality pitched games. We have been able to avoid inconsistent members of the bullpen going straight to Otto and Davis. Chris Rusin has thankfully been put on the DL. He was like dry timber in a dumpster fire. Gopherg has pitched better since coming off the DL. Bryan Shaw has been used less frequently and he seems to get better especially after his DL stint.
CarGo has come alive and is a dangerous bat in the middle of the lineup except lefties with sweeping sliders. Ian Desmond continues to get better each month raising his batting average to .241 after being mired below the Mendoza line for the first two months. Trevor Story is starting to show that he is an elite shortstop with both his bat and glove. The bottom part of the order is no longer an automatic three and out part of the order except for the catching position.
Defense has been elite in the majors with the Rockies leading NL or second best. It is still a very small sample size, but Garrett Hampson is not looking like a deer with the headlights in eyes. He’s looking like he can replace DJLM after he leaves in the free agency. And Oh by the way, the Rockies made a trade acquiring relief pitcher Seunghwan Oh from Toronto in exchange for Forrest Wall, Chad Spanberger, and a PTBNL or cash considerations. Wall started as a 2B but moved to CF. He has decent speed and maybe a hit tool, but he’s not going anywhere with the depth in OF and infield. Spanberger is a first baseman but he’s not much compared to Grant Lavigne whom Colorado just drafted.
Colorado is now 54-47 and in third place behind the Dodgers (57-46) and Arizona (56-48). The Giants (52-52) are fading away fast due to their aging factor and lack of pitching. Being two games back in the West is the closest the Rockies have been this late in the season. In the undesirable race for the one-and-out wild card spots, the Rockies are in fourth place just three games back of WC #1 and one game back of WC #2. Third place Arizona is just half a game ahead of the Rockies.
The easiest way to win the West title is to win series after series (or split). They have done that since late June. Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t face any teams below .500 as it seems like we play down to them. Gray. Anderson, and Freeland are the keys to the Rockies performance as they will make the bullpen better if they can pitch deep into games.