Colorado Rockies: Season ends in disappointing Wild Card loss
In 2009, the Rockies lost the NLDS to the Philadelphia Phillies in four games. Tonight, the Colorado Rockies played in their first playoff game in eight seasons. The game was the 2017 National League Wild Card Game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. The game was extremely competitive, but in the end the Diamondbacks prevailed, 11-8, ending Colorado’s short playoff run.
Back in April, few people would have predicted that the NL Wild Card Game would feature the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, but that is the beauty of baseball: Anything can happen. In the middle of May, as the Rox led the NL West, it was clear that 2017 could be a playoff season for Bud Black and team.
As the Los Angeles Dodgers began to pull away in the division, the playoff picture began to take shape and it looked like the D-Backs and Rox in the Wild Card was a safe bet. Arizona held strong to the first position for most of the season, while the Rox faced some challenges from the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Miami Marlins during the season.
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In the end, the Rockies clinched their playoff spot during the last weekend of the regular season and began preparations for a battle with the Diamondbacks for the right to take on the Dodgers in the NLDS. The two teams faced off 19 times during the regular season, but this time was different and much, much more important.
Anticipation grew among the entire baseball world as game day continued on and the game drew nearer and nearer. About 20 minutes before game time, both teams were introduced to loud applause from the Phoenix crowd. After a moment of silence for the Las Vegas victims and the playing of the National Anthem, first pitch of the big game was delivered just after 5:00 p.m. local time in Arizona.
Both teams sent their aces to the mound for the game, with Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA) going for the D-Backs and Jon Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA) countering for the Rox. The starting lineups featured the usual stars for both teams and there were few surprises on either team’s roster for the game.
Greinke was able to retire the side in order in the top of the first, but DJ LeMahieu had a good at-bat, forcing Greinke to show his entire repertoire in an eight-pitch battle. The bottom of the inning did not go well for the Rox as Gray struggled, allowing three runs on a home run from Paul Goldschmidt that landed in the left field bleachers. Despite a single and double later in the inning, Gray was able to escape without further damage done.
Greinke posted another perfect inning in the second on just 10 pitches. Bud Black was seen talking to Gray in the dugout between innings and with action in the bullpen already, it was unclear whether or not Gray would return for a second inning. Gray did return for a second inning, but quickly gave up an RBI triple and was pulled for the day.
Gray’s book was closed with four earned runs given up in just 1.1 innings. Scott Oberg was brought in to pitch the rest of the second and he was able to escape the inning without further damage.
A Jonathan Lucroy walk and a pinch-hit Raimel Tapia single put runners on the corners with one out for the Rox in the top of the third inning. Unfortunately, the Rockies couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and headed to the bottom of the third, down four runs. Another blow was dealt in the bottom of the third as Daniel Descalso hit a two-run shot off Tyler Anderson to give the D-Backs a commanding six run lead.
The Rockies finally got to Greinke in the top of the fourth, scoring their first run on a Gerardo Parra RBI single that left runners on the corners with just one out. Mark Reynolds followed with an RBI groundout that put Colorado’s second run of the game on the board. Next, Lucroy delievered an RBI double that pulled the Rockies within three runs. Bud went to the bench to have Alexi Amarista pinch hit for Anderson and he converted on a first pitch curveball, bouncing it right back through the middle for an RBI single to pull the Rox within 6-4.
After giving up the four runs, Greinke’s night was done and Andrew Chafin entered from the bullpen. A nice sliding catch in center field by AJ Pollock got the D-Backs out of the inning, but the Rox gained important momentum in the inning and pulled within two runs. Chris Rusin entered for the Rockies in the bottom of the inning and got into some trouble with a triple from Ketel Marte, but was able to work out of the inning without any damage done.
Neither the fifth or sixth inning provided much action, but the Rox continued to chip away at the Diamondbacks lead in the top of the seventh. Lucroy led off the inning with a double and ultimately scored on a sacrifice bunt from Charlie Blackmon. Archie Bradley came through in the bottom of the seventh with a huge two-run triple for the D-Backs to give them an 8-5 lead.
The Rox refused to give in however, as Nolan Arenado hit a long solo shot in the top of the eighth inning to pull the Rockies back within two runs again. Immediately after, Trevor Story delivered an opposite field shot to pull the Rox back within one run. A Pat Valaika double put the tying run in scoring position, but the Rockies couldn’t do it in the eighth.
The Rockies got in trouble again in the bottom of the eighth and Greg Holland gave up a key, two-run triple to AJ Pollock and a Jeff Mathis RBI bunt that gave the Diamondbacks an 11-7 lead heading to the ninth inning.
Next: Smile as you look back on the Rockies clinching a playoff spot
The Rockies went down fighting in the top of the ninth inning to conclude their 2017 season, falling by a final score of 11-8. They scored one more run on an RBI single from Carlos Gonzalez. Despite the early postseason exit, the Rockies still had a year to be proud of and went much further than many thought they could.