Colorado Rockies morning after: Season of missed opportunities ends

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 26: Trevor Story (27) of the Colorado Rockies celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on July 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JULY 26: Trevor Story (27) of the Colorado Rockies celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on July 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

In a season of missed opportunities, it was somehow fitting that the 2020 campaign for the Colorado Rockies ended as it did.

The Colorado Rockies finished their abbreviated 60-game campaign quietly Sunday afternoon with a forgettable 11-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

The setback gave Colorado a final record of 26-34, matching the team’s mark for most games under .500 this season, and in fourth place in the five-team National League West division (one game ahead of cellar-dweller Arizona).

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After bolting to an 11-3 record to open the season, the Rox went 15-31 (.326 winning percentage) the rest of the way to hold the dubious distinction of having the worst winning percentage in the Majors over that 46-game span.

With the 16-game descent from eight games above .500 to eight games below .500, so went the team’s chances for claiming one of eight berths in this year’s reconstructed postseason (only five teams made the playoffs in 2019).

Colorado was able to hang around in the chase for one of two wild card spots (St. Louis and Milwaukee ended up nabbing the two NL wild card berths) until a loss in the first game of a doubleheader to Arizona on Friday mathematically eliminated the club from the playoffs.

After dropping a doubleheader to the Diamondbacks on Friday, the Rockies rebounded with a 10-3 victory on Saturday marking the second time this season they have tallied 10 runs in a contest.

The seven-run differential was the only time in 2020 that the Rox won a game by six or more runs, thus ending a streak of 97 games in achieving the feat that dated back to August 2019.

But as so often was the case for Colorado this season, the team was unable to take advantage of any momentum it might have gained with Saturday’s decisive victory, the Rockies’ lone win in the season-ending four-game series with Arizona.

On Sunday, the Rox fell behind 6-0 after three innings and 11-0 after seven to the D-backs. A three-run eighth inning by the visitors enabled Colorado to not complete the year by being blanked for the second time in two days (Arizona shut out the Rox 4-0 in the opener of the twinbill Friday).

With Kyle Freeland on the mound on Sunday, the Rockies had an opportunity — for only the second time in franchise history and first time since 2013, according to Baseball Reference — to conclude the season with three starting pitchers with an earned run average of less than 4.00.

Antonio Senzatela ended the year with a 3.44 ERA while German Marquez notched a 3.75 mark.

Entering Sunday’s season finale, Freeland stood at 3.69.

But the left-hander was not able join the group of sub-4.00 ERA starting hurlers as he permitted eight hits and six earned runs in just 2.1 innings to finish the campaign with a 4.33 ERA.

Still, that number is a significant drop from his 6.73 ERA of a year ago.

Colorado’s offense managed only six hits on Sunday, including just two hits in five innings against Arizona starter Madison Bumgarner, who had been winless in four decisions with a 7.36 ERA entering the season finale.

Raimel Tapia, with a pair of doubles, and Tony Wolters each had two hits for the Rox, who fanned 10 times against four Arizona pitchers.

Tapia, who moved into the leadoff position shortly after becoming an every day starter midway through the campaign, concluded 2020 with a .321 batting average and a spot among the top 10 hitters in the NL.

Josh Fuentes, who finished the year as the team’s starting first baseman , had a run-scoring double in the Rox three-run eighth inning, to cap a .306 season at the plate.

The offensive star, though, for Colorado this season has to be Trevor Story.

The shortstop ended the season with a .289 hitting mark and entered the final day of play leading the National League (and tied for second in the Majors) with 15 stolen bases. He also was tied for the top spot in the NL in triples with four.

Besides those rankings, Story was among the top 10 in the NL in hits, extra base hits, multi-hit games, total bases, and runs scored.

Despite his offensive accolades, in addition to this solid play in the infield this season, Story knows Colorado had its chances to make a statement in the NL this year but could not do so.

"“It’s been an up-and-down season, obviously, with the start we had,” Story told media, including Rox Pile, after Sunday’s season-ending contest in Phoenix.“We started off 11-3, pretty much an ideal spot to be in. We just didn’t stay consistent enough — the ups and downs of the season. We had a lot more downs after the start than we are used to. It’s tough to come back from that. We couldn’t rattle off four or five or six games in a row like we have in the past. We couldn’t get on a roll and kind of sustain that this year.”"

dark. Next. Why the 2021 Rockies season already has two big question marks

Missed opportunities. As the Rockies and their fans replay the unprecedented 2020 campaign in the next few days, weeks, months — even years — they will recall the unrealized opportunities that could have made this a season to remember.