Colorado Rockies have backs against the wall in pivotal homestand
After dropping two of three games to the Los Angeles Angels at Coors Field over the weekend, the Colorado Rockies find themselves a season-high four games under .500 with a 21-25 record.
With 14 games remaining in the regular season, and six contests left to be played in the current nine-game homestand, the Colorado Rockies have their backs against the proverbial wall as they continue the chase for one of eight berths in this year’s expanded National League playoffs.
After the homestand, Colorado finishes the regular season with eight games on the road (four each with San Francisco and Arizona).
Resuming play Tuesday night after an off day on Monday, the Rox remain in the ninth spot — based on winning percentage — among NL teams battling to make it to the postseason.
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But after dropping the interleague series to the Angels, who now stand 20-28 on the season but have won eight of their last 11 contests, the Rox must now face two teams that are leading their respective divisions for the remainder of this pivotal homestand.
The going doesn’t get any easier as Colorado first has a pair of contests against the Oakland Athletics — American League West leaders — and a four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers — NL West leaders — to end the regular-season home schedule at Coors Field.
Buoyed by Charlie Blackmon’s walkoff grand slam to cap a five-run ninth inning, the Rockies rallied to win the series opener with the Angels 8-4 on Friday night.
But that come-from-behind win was followed by a pair of late-inning losses to the Angels the next two days.
In both of those setbacks, the Rox led midway through the game before the Angels rallied to capture wins — 5-2 in 11 innings on Saturday night and 5-3 on Sunday afternoon.
The scenario in each of those games was something Rockies fans have seen throughout the season — the Colorado bullpen displaying an inability to hold a lead and the Rockies offense not being able to capitalize on opportunities to either build on a lead or get the big hit late in the contest when needed.
Manager Bud Black bemoaned the team’s struggles after the Rox bolted to an 11-3 start to the season (10-22 since).
"“Again, we’ve talked about it all season. We need the big hit with runners in scoring position,” Black told media after Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Angels.“We’ve got to break through and keep the line moving and string hits together — more than just a couple. We can’t rely on one maybe one grand slam to really break (it) up. We’ve got to have more consistent at bats throughout the game from top to bottom. And our pitching has to hold together. We’re using a lot of the guys out of that bullpen often.”"
Compounding the issue for Colorado is a season-long trend of not being able to win consistently at Coors Field.
After the series with the Angels, the Rox are now just 10-14 at home (11-11 on the road).
Colorado meets Oakland for the second time this season, having taken both games from the Athletics (8-3 and 5-1 victories) in Oakland during the first week of the season in late July.
Those triumphs were part of an early four-game winning streak and stretch of eight wins in nine games as part of the 11-3 start to the season.
In an ironic twist, the Rox pitchers of record in the two victories against the A’s — Antonio Senzatela (2-5, 4.35 ERA) and German Marquez (3-2, 3.69) — are scheduled to draw the starts again against Oakland.
Oakland is slated to send Sean Manaea (4-2, 4.46) to the mound against Senzatela on Tuesday night while going with Mike Fiers (5-2, 5.06) against Marquez on Wednesday afternoon.
On Sunday, Black summed up what Colorado needs to do to be successful against the A’s (29-17 on the season).
"“We need Senzatela to pitch well on Tuesday. We need German to bounce back on Wednesday and get us a couple of really good starts to give us a chance to win and obviously we got to swing the bats better.”"
A simple formula for success. Can the Rockies follow their manager’s script to get some much-needed wins during the final homestand of 2020?