Colorado Rockies Once Again Having Fun in August
Fun. It’s a word that hasn’t been used much in the Colorado Rockies locker room in August in quite some time but, this season, the fun has returned in LoDo as the calendar flipped from July.
Inside the locker room in recent days, a zoo theme has been accentuated by blow-up animals adorning different players’ dressing areas. Scoreboard watching has become a hobby in the clubhouse on a daily basis and was most noticeable on Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs came from behind to beat the Miami Marlins in the ninth inning, helping Colorado gain some ground on the Marlins in the Wild Card chase.
The entire clubhouse exploded in cheers and smiles. Every game matters at this point. That fact isn’t lost on people like Colorado All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who last tasted the postseason in 2009.
“It’s been fun. It’s fun when you get wins,” Gonzalez said. “We’re playing good baseball right now and everything is working. We’re having strong outings from our starters. When you get quality starts with the offense that we have, it’s great to see and fun to play.”
Needless to say, it’s a lot more fun when you’re competing for the postseason like the Rockies are doing right now. The excitement started building after a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in late July gave the Rockies the home-field mojo back and hasn’t let up.
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“We feel good. I’m really proud of our guys. They really responded. We weren’t in a great spot at the break, especially in that last series before the break where we lost that last game to split the four-game series with the Phillies,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. “We didn’t go into the break with a great feeling but I feel really good about how the guys regrouped and came out of the break with a sense of urgency.
“We talked about playing every game like it’s Game 7 and that’s where we’re at. With the trade deadline coming up, a lot of distractions start to creep in but the guys have gone out and taken care of business and executed the game in all facets. It’s been really fun to watch and the guys are having fun.”
It’s been fun even despite the loss of rookie shortstop Trevor Story to season-ending surgery. While that was a low point for the team, the play of fellow rookie David Dahl has helped rejuvenate the squad.
“The kid’s been great. It’s tough to see Story out but he’s been a tremendous addition for us,” Gonzalez said. “He’s confident and adjusts himself really well in the big leagues. It’s a great sign.”
“He just looks very much in control of his at-bats,” Weiss added about Dahl. “When he steps in the box, he’s in control. He lays off tough pitches. Virtually all of his at-bats have been very competitive. He uses the entire field and hits the ball from one end to one end. He can also hit the ball out in the big part of the field as he showed in Baltimore when he hit the ball straight away (out to center). There are a lot of things going on right now with David.”
Not every day is going to produce a win, and some days are going to be heartbreaking like Friday night’s ninth-inning loss to the Marlins, but there’s a different swagger with the Rockies right now.
“You have to be able to put aside when you have a rough day,” Gonzalez said. “We keep winning series. Even if you lose a game, you have to show up the next day and play better and learn from the mistakes. The important part is that we’re getting really good outings from our pitchers and the bullpen is doing a tremendous job. Everyone knows that we can score runs so every time put runs on the board and have a good outing from one of our pitchers, it’s a good sign.”
Weiss said in spring training he liked the makeup of his team. Now, almost five months later, he’s seeing his team evolve into the force he hoped it would be.
“It’s important for everybody to step up, period,” Weiss said. “Like I’ve said before, there are different ways to win baseball games. You don’t always have to hit the ball in the seats but we’re capable of that. We can do some other things too to score some runs and win games late if we need to.”
For Gonzalez, the key to having more fun is simple. Keep winning and keep watching the scoreboard as the Wild Card chase heats up.
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“We just have to continue to play hard. It’s a big step but we still have work to do,” Gonzalez said. “We have a special opportunity right now and we will try to take advantage of it and go out there and have fun every night. We want to get to that spot for the postseason.”