Colorado Rockies: 3 keys to winning the Wild Card game in Arizona

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during the first inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during the first inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during the first inning of the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Rockies square off against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Wild Card game on Wednesday night in Phoenix. First pitch is scheduled for 6:08 p.m. (Mountain time) and will be televised by TBS.

This is the fourth trip to the postseason for the Rockies in franchise history. It’s the second time they’ve met the Diamondbacks with the only other encounter coming in the 2007 NLCS. The Rockies swept Arizona in that series to reach its only World Series … so far.

Colorado isn’t favored to win the game, according to many “experts.” On ESPN.com, 25 of the 29 writers surveyed are taking the Diamondbacks to win the game. With Zack Greinke on the mound and a 13-1 mark and 2.87 ERA at Chase Field this season, sure, we get that. However, there is a lot more to the game than just one pitcher.

Let’s take a look at three keys to victory for the Rockies, starting with their own starter, Jon Gray.

Gray must avoid September 2 mistakes

When we spoke to Gray before September started, he told us he thought better things were ahead for him as the calendar wound down toward the postseason. He wasn’t kidding. Gray went 4-1 in September with a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings. He struck out 39 while walking only seven batters.

However, Gray’s one loss in September came against the Diamondbacks, on September 2 at Coors Field in a 6-2 decision. The key was Arizona hopping on Gray for three runs in the first inning. Gray allowed singles to David Peralta and Ketel Marte to open the game before J.D. Martinez hit a three-run shot to give Arizona all the runs it would need.

Those are all of the runs Arizona scored against Gray that night. However, there were other opportunities as the 25-year-old right-hander walked three batters. Think about it, of the seven men walked by Gray in September, three were against Arizona.

The Diamondbacks will try to be patient against Gray. If he can keep the ball in the strike zone and have that wicked slider working to its potential, it sets up to be a low-scoring affair at Chase Field.

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