Colorado Rockies morning after: Yes, it is time to panic in Denver
Go ahead, Colorado Rockies fans. You can hit that panic button any time you like.
Most of you already have, judging by Twitter comments and the number of empty seats at Coors Field for Friday night’s showdown with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sure, a college football game was playing across town but more of you couldn’t make your way to 20th and Blake for the start of arguably one of the most important months in franchise history? Apparently not. And those of you who were there let the wave happen? For shame!
In all, just 29,628 were in the stands on Friday night to watch Arizona expand its Wild Card lead over the Rockies with a dominating 9-5 victory. The Diamondbacks are now 4.5 games ahead of the Rockies for the first Wild Card spot … and pulling away.
Sure, Friday night was just one game. However, it felt much bigger than that.
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With the day off on Thursday and roster expansion happening on Friday, there was plenty of thought that the Rockies could shake off their recent offensive malaise and get the month of September started right. Taijuan Walker, however, had other plans.
The right-hander struck out 10 (yes, 10) Rockies in his five innings of work. That includes the first eight outs of the night recorded by the Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, Arizona pieced together single runs in four innings to build a 4-0 lead before Colorado’s offense finally looked like its first-half self again.
Ian Desmond legged out an infield single as he has done so many times this season. Carlos Gonzalez smacked his second double of the night to plate Desmond, who can be a weapon for Colorado with his speed if given the chance. Jonathan Lucroy moved CarGo to third with a groundout to the right side and Trevor Story launched a sacrifice fly to center to score Gonzalez.
Two runs. Signs of life. Energy back into Coors Field.
It seems like a simple formula, but it has been one that has escaped the Rockies so often in recent games. It wasn’t even there at the start of Friday night as Colorado started the game 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
CarGo and Story would be the offensive leaders for the Rockies, combining to go 3-for-8 with the team’s five RBI between them. If Colorado fans are looking for a silver lining, perhaps it’s that two of their season-long struggling key players did anything but struggle at the plate while the rest of the team floundered.
Arizona came into Denver after winning seven in a row, including a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies dropped two of three to the lowly Detroit Tigers at Coors Field in their most recent series. Both teams lived up to their recent play on Friday night.
For the Rockies, this is becoming even more concerning. There were mental mistakes on Friday night (Kyle Freeland not covering the bag on a key early play) and a play in the seventh where the Rockies committed back-to-back errors that allowed a run to score. The Rockies looked every bit like a struggling team against the Diamondbacks. That’s because they are.
Thankfully Saturday is indeed another day. Colorado still has a 1.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the second Wild Card slot. However, that lead has been shrinking steadily in recent days.
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It’s time for Colorado to push the panic button. It’s time to shake up the lineup. It’s time to do something to counteract whatever curse has fallen upon the Rockies. Otherwise, Colorado fans will wake up a month from today (October 2) wondering what went wrong rather than planning where they are going to watch the Wild Card game.