DENVER – A year ago today, many Denver-based cranks watched one of the finest games of hardball the city had ever hosted. Their beloved Colorado Rockies star launched a three-run home run to walk off the San Francisco Giants in a four-game sweep of their National League West foes. In doing so, Nolan Arenado competed the rare cycle and the big league club completed their first ever sweep of the Giants.
The moment was captivating. It was the high point of a team that captured a playoff spot for the first time in eight years. A game later, that same star nailed a game-winning two-run triple off of multi-time Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and the club moved to 21 games above .500 for just the second time in franchise history.
Little did anyone know that those June days would be the high water mark of the 2017 season, possibly the 2018 season and perhaps even the Arenado era.
A year later, the club is still living in the shadow of that moment.
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Sitting at 34-37, Colorado played their 2018 Father’s Day affair in stark contrast to the prior year’s one. In what some are calling the worst regular-season loss in franchise history, the Rockies lost to the 15-games-under Texas Rangers after leading 5-1 going to the sixth, despite scoring seven more runs over the final four frames.
The loss was indicative of almost all the club’s issues. The game saw their ace-who-has-not-been-an-ace-except-for-sometimes-and-in-this-game-during-the-first-five-innings have his classic blowout. Worse, the bullpen, with $108 million invested into it this offseason, raised their ERA to the second-worst in baseball. Reliever after reliever failed as has happened consistently through the first 70-plus games.
If the bullpen is actually this bad (though it *probably* isn’t), it could set the franchise back a decade … but that’s another story.
In this season alone, they have blown 21 leads.
"“Business as usual,” Chris Iannetta said of the bullpen. “We have the same type of conversations … it’s just unfortunate that they’re all going through this at the same time.”"
Returning home for seven games against two struggling teams from the National League East could seem like a boost and a hopeful reason the they’ll correct themselves this next week. It is not. The Denver nine is 11-19 within city limits.
"“We’re trying to take home field advantage and we haven’t played good baseball since the beginning of the season. This is a perfect time to get things going,” Carlos Gonzalez said."
Forget perfect. It might be now or never.
The club is now in fourth place, meaning they may have to outplay three divisional opponents to make the playoffs. There is no guarantee that the Wild Card will end up in the West like both did last season. There’s a chance that their only way to dance is to outplay the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Giants over the next three-and-a-half months.
Fangraphs gives the Rockies a 7.7 percent chance at making the playoffs.
The team would need to play .626 ball the rest of the way (57-34) to reach the arbitrary mark of 90 wins.
"“I haven’t noticed any frustration in the clubhouse,” Iannetta said. “We can’t ride the emotional rollercoaster that the fans and media do. Our job is to play baseball.”"
If there’s a time for frustration, it’s now. While the even-keeled nature of baseball dictates that’s a poor way, it may be the best action of recourse. A unique way to charge at the dog days.
Fans are justified this time in their frustration. The expectation was that this team would reach the playoffs once again and possibly even take their first division title. Instead comparisons to 2008 and 2016 are more applicable than that of last season.
"“Obviously you’re upset and angry, but you can’t get stuck with one game,” CarGo said."
Yesterday was truly atrocious and there is a tomorrow. In fact, that tomorrow is today. But is hasn’t been just one game, there have been dozens.