The clock is beginning to tick a little bit more loudly for the Colorado Rockies as they get closer to the midnight hour of this abbreviated 2020 season.
With only 17 games remaining on the schedule, the Colorado Rockies prepare for their final scheduled home action of the 2020 campaign — a season-long nine-game homestand that starts Friday night when the Los Angeles Angels journey to Coors Field for the opener of a three-game weekend series.
Besides the Angels, Oakland will come to town for a brief two-game set before the homestand concludes with four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in their only appearance at Coors Field this season.
Once the homestand is complete, Colorado finishes with an eight-game road trip (four games with the San Francisco Giants and four games with the Arizona Diamondbacks).
So when the clock strikes midnight after the regular season finale on September 27 with the D’backs in Phoenix, will the Rox be wearing “glass slippers” (like Cinderella) and be traveling to the ball (National League playoffs) or will their carriage — season — turn into a pumpkin?
Based on the team’s roller coaster ride this season, filled with some grand highs as well as its share of disappointing lows, it’s anybody’s guess if the Rockies — sporting a 20-23 record and three-game losing streak entering the series with the Angels — will be playoff-bound.
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As it stands now, the Rockies are still in the hunt for a playoff berth, residing just outside of the top eight NL teams (Rox were seeded ninth based on winning percentage as of Wednesday).
It wasn’t so long ago in mid-August after Colorado roared out of the starting gates with 11-3 mark that making the playoffs — for many — seemed a sure thing, particularly with this year’s playoff field being expanded from five to eight teams.
But since that great start, the Rox have gone 9-20, including a season-long seven-game losing streak and a stretch with only one win in 11 contests.
Since that 1-10 stretch that ended August 23 with a road loss to the Dodgers, Colorado has basically been treading water. The club has gone 7-8 entering its final homestand.
In those 15 games, seemingly every time that it appears the team might be ready to break out and make a move up the NL West standings, the club is derailed.
That can be noted by taking a look at what has happened thus far in the month of September.
The month opened September 1 with the Rox suffering a 23-5 shellacking by the Giants at Coors Field.
Then, the next day in a rematch between the two teams in the final contest of a six-game homestand, the Rox trailed 6-1 after four innings but rallied for a 9-6 victory.
With some momentum after the come-from-behind win, Colorado embarked on a six-game road trip to face the Dodgers and Padres.
In the opener of a three-game set with the Dodgers September 4, the Rox used a four-run eighth to take a 6-5 lead. But the Dodgers responded with five runs in the bottom of the eighth to nab a 10-6 victory.
Colorado then picked up wins (5-2 and 7-6) the next two nights at Dodger Stadium to claim the series and become the first team to capture a series from Los Angeles this season.
But a heartbreaking 1-0 ninth inning walkoff loss the next night (September 7) in the first of three games with San Diego took the wind out of the Rockies sails. Setbacks the next two nights led to a Padres sweep and sent Colorado back to Denver for its final homestand.
Despite the 2-4 road trip, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story saw some good things against the Dodgers and Padres that he thinks should benefit the club.
“I think those are two of the best teams in the NL, right there, that we played on this roadstand,” he said. “I think what we can take from it is that we can play with anybody. We have the belief that we can win against anybody. That is the way I am looking at it.
“I like to be optimistic and positive,” he added. “I feel we were right there in every game, except for last night’s (Tuesday’s) game. That’s the way I am looking at it.”
With the Dodgers, who lead the NL West, and the Athletics, who top the American League West, the Rox will have their work cut out for them when they take the field against each division leader at Coors Field.
With Colorado being just 9-12 this season at home, a sub-.500 homestand could make a push for the playoffs most difficult as the bewitching hour of the season draws nearer.