The 2020 season is boiling down to a simple numbers game for the Colorado Rockies.
Mathematically, the Rockies have not yet been eliminated from a berth in this year’s National League eight-team playoff field. Realistically, though, the numbers and chances for Colorado to earn a post-season spot are quickly dwindling.
After snapping a four-game losing streak (and a stretch of six setbacks in seven games) by salvaging the finale of a four-game home series with a 6-3 win Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado stands 23-29 on the season.
The game Sunday at Coors Field, in which the Rox offense erupted for 10 hits (although none went for extra bases), was the final home contest of the year. Colorado ended the season with a 12-18 home mark, marking their first losing record at home since the 2015 campaign.
Now the team embarks on a regular season-ending, eight-game road swing. The road trip begins Monday night with the opener of a four-game set with the San Francisco Giants before Colorado travels to Phoenix for four contests with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Colorado-Arizona series includes a doubleheader on Friday.
But first up is the series with Giants, who are one of several teams that the Rox must leapfrog if they are to make it to the playoffs. Entering play Sunday, the Rockies trailed Cincinnati by three games for the final playoff berth.
Of the group of teams for which Colorado is vying for a spot in postseason action (besides Cincinnati, that group includes San Francisco, Milwaukee, and the New York Mets), San Francisco is the only club that the Rox will play in the season’s final week.
Going into the series opener with the Giants Monday night, San Francisco stood with a 26-26 record so a mere split of the series will not help Colorado gain any ground on the Giants. The Rockies need to win at least three games, or even better, sweep the Giants to make a move. (Note: The Giants will end their season with a four-game home series with the San Diego Padres).
A tall order for Colorado? Yes. But with the number of games remaining to be played, the Rox have little room for leeway.
Manager Bud Black is well aware of his team’s position in the playoff hunt. With only seven days of action remaining, he also knows what his team needs to do to be successful, so much, that he repeated it to media to end one of his responses to a question by media Sunday.
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"“You look at the standings and, obviously, we put ourselves in a little bit of a hole here,” the manager told media, including Rox Pile, after Colorado’s win on Sunday afternoon. “Three games out of that last spot. Now we have eight games to play. A lot of things can happen.”“The last week or so we have slid a little bit, but guys are not losing their fight to realize what might happen,” Black added. “That is cool amongst the group and I am proud of the guys to keep fighting. But we got to keep the bats going.”"
The trip west is Colorado’s only venture to Oracle Park, home of the Giants, this season. In six games at Coors Field, the Rox have gone 4-2 against San Francisco.
One of those losses was a 23-5 shellacking to the Giants on Sept. 1.
Elias Diaz, who is the only Rox catcher to hit a home run this season and who has hit safely in his last five starts, talked Sunday afternoon about the importance of the upcoming series with San Francisco.
“This series is one that we really want to compete in,” said Diaz, who got the start behind the plate Sunday and responded by driving in a run with a single and another with an infield forceout in the victory against the Dodgers.
“We started today (by) winning,” he added. “I think we will go to San Francisco and every day is going to be the playoff for all the teams. We are going to fight every at-bat, every pitch, every inning, and try to win.”
With the numbers game the Rockies now face, winning is paramount if Colorado hopes to be playing in October.