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Woody Paige: How the next 9 games could make or break the Colorado Rockies' playoff chances

September 5, 2017 Updated: September 6, 2017 at 9:10 am
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Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon tapes the handle of his bat before heading to the cage to take batting practice before facing the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Historically, an anguished soul would be forced, as corporal punishment, to pass through parallel rows of soldiers who would strike out with switches and rods.

The Rockies must begin "running the gantlet'' Wednesday.

During a nine-game span the Rockies will confront nine veteran, proven starting pitchers. Seven have been selected to All-Star teams. Six have appeared in postseason series.

The nine have compiled a cumulative 107 victories this season (numbers prior to Tuesday). Four own a total of 59 victories - Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw 16 each, Alex Wood 14 and Patrick Corbin 13.

Three just beat the Rockies in a crucial Diamondbacks sweep in Denver.

None of the Rockies six starting pitchers has been in the playoffs or the All-Star Game. They have a record of 43-38.

Rox general manager Jeff Bridich always has aspirations of "meaningful games'' this time of year.

Welcome to Significant September (and one important day in October).

While the Broncos, Boss, Brock have taken control of the attention the first days of the month, we haven't forgotten about the forlorning Rockies.

The club's entire season may depend on the next nine days.

Win nine, and the Rockies will be a National League wild card. A Magnificent Seven would put the Rox in a positive position for the final 15. Four would not be Fab, and three or fewer victories severely would damage the Rockies' ambitions for a fourth postseason in their quarter century of existence. Lose all nine, and the Rockies would be around .500.

From June 21-Sept. 4, the LoDo Locals produced the worst record in Major League Baseball (26-38) and fell from Sure Things to Ambiguous Also-Rans.

The final game of the series against the Giants and the eight-day trip to Los Angeles and Phoenix are between the Rox and a hard place.

Well, the Giants should be easy Wednesday afternoon. Except they are starting Johnny Cueto. His season, as San Francisco's, has been putrefying (6-7). However, in his career, Cueto's teams have won nine games in his 12 starts against the Rockies.

Then, the Rockies are up against the Dodgers' Four Force of Kershaw (back from injury), Yu Darvish (over from the Rangers), Alex Wood (who has lost only twice since April) and Rich Hill (who recently lost his perfect game, his no-hitter and his victory).

And the Rockies conclude the trip with four in Arizona against Greinke (14-1 at home), Taijuan Walker, Corbin and The Other Zach - Godley. The last three beat the Rox in that devastating three-game series last week in Denver - the Snakes in the Grass pulled away for the first wild card - and Walker and Corbin were responsible for defeats on June 21-22 that set off the Roxslide.

On Sept. 15, the Rockies return to play the woeful Padres, but, wait! The San Diego starter is scheduled to be Jhoulys Chacin, a familiar name hereabouts. He is 12-10. His first season in The Show with the Rockies (2009) was their last season of success. Of the Rockies' current group, only Chad Bettis has won as many games as Chacin once did in a season (14).

The Rockies, 73-64 before Tuesday night's game, are on pace to win 86 (after thinking 100 in early June). If they continue on the pace from June 21, the Rox would finish 84-78, third best in franchise history, but not likely strong enough to be the second wild card. The minimum in wild-card history (in non-strike years) is 87 in the National League, 86 in the American League.

Other items to consider:

- Giancarlo Stanton, on a tear to establish the non-steroid record of 62 home runs, plays at The Keg Sept. 25-27 with the Marlins. In 20 games against the Rox, Stanton has smashed 10 home runs. You might think about tickets given the Stanton situation and the Rockies' playoff possibility. (A lot are available on the internet for less than $20 each.)

- The Dodgers come to town for the final regular-season series Sept. 29, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 - the same Sunday afternoon the Broncos play at home against the Raiders. (Some Broncos tickets are available for about $150.)

Will the Dodgers tank?

The Raiders certainly won't.

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