July 26th-August 3rd: This may have been my favorite time of the 2016 season. The Rockies had a rough six-game road trip between Baltimore and New York. They responded with a five-game winning streak, taking two of three from the Orioles and three of four from the Mets. The streak included dominant starts from Bettis, Gray, Chatwood and Tyler Anderson. The bullpen wasn’t terrible, not allowing a run for multiple games before Boone Logan blew the series finale to the Mets.
The Rockies then returned home and took the first two games from the Dodgers before dropping the finale. In the midst of the streak, the Rockies called up David Dahl, who provided two home runs and a hit in each game to prove he could hang at the Major League level.
The most exciting part of this stretch was the Rockies reached .500 at 52-52, before surpassing it at 54-53 and were within a couple games of the Wild Card. It showed that it was a team on the brink of competing. But it left us all wondering what would have happened if Story had not torn his thumb ligament in the midst of the streak.
Rockies Walk-Off on the World Champs: The Chicago Cubs and all of their fans came to Coors Field in late August and the Rockies took two of three from them. The series opener was a thriller in extras as the Cubs scored one to take the lead in the top of the 11th. Nick Hundley singled off Aroldis Chapman, bringing Ryan Raburn to the plate. He drove one to deep right, giving Hundley a chance to try for home. With some luck, he scored as Javier Baez’s throw got past catcher Wilson Contreras and bounced into the dugout, which awarded Raburn home and the Rockies a win.
Another highlight of this victory was seeing Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra wave goodbye to the Cubs’ fans who were trying to take over Coors Field.
Bettis Shuts Out the Giants: Chad Bettis had some of his best stuff of the year on September 5th at Coors Field where he was masterful against the San Francisco Giants. He shut them out, pitching a complete game while allowing only two hits, no walks and striking out seven. The game also featured CarGo’s 25th home run of the season as the offense gave Bettis plenty of cushion, scoring six runs.
Gray’s “Best Performance”: On September 17 at Coors Field, Gray had one of the most impressive pitching performances of the season for any team. He twirled a complete game shutout against the Padres and struck out 16 over nine innings. Gray allowed only four hits and did not walk a batter.
The stunning outing made Gray a finalist for MLB’s Best Performance Award but lost out to Max Scherzer’s 20-strikeout performance. Still, it was the arguably the best pitching performance ever at Coors Field and displayed just how good Gray can be.
The Offseason: The Rockies illustrated a great deal of improvement in 2016 and the start of the youth movement that has had everyone so excited for the past couple of years. The start of this offseason has been unfamiliar for long-time Rockies fans as they made moves consistent with a team that is trying to compete.
It started with signing Bud Black to be manager. He was a more experienced, more expensive, and out of house candidate and the Rockies signed him. The offseason aggressiveness continued with the signings of Ian Desmond and Mike Dunn to contracts. Recently, news came out the team also signed Alexi Amarista to a one-year deal.
Say what you will about the moves themselves but the fact that the Rockies are actually making moves with the intention of competing in 2017, along with the team we saw in 2016, is refreshing. I have a good feeling that next year’s list of highlights may have to be a little bit longer.