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Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado, left, reacts after hitting a three-run home run, in front of San Diego Padres catcher Jason Castro during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Under normal circumstances, this would seem like a workable, borderline ideal, situation for the Rockies.

They’re two games behind a playoff spot with 17 games remaining, and the next nine are played in the park where they’ve long enjoyed one of baseball’s best homefield advantages.

But nothing is normal this year.

While Colorado is, indeed, within striking distance of a playoff spot, it comes in this 60-game season where eight (instead of six) teams will be allowed into the postseason. The Rockies (20-23) have also backed into this spot, opening the year 11-3.

And while the games at Coors Field certainly present an opportunity for the Rockies to get right at home, they’ve struggled to do that this year – going 9-12 at Coors Field and dropping 6 of their last 9.

“This homestand is going to be big for us,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “We need to play a little bit better baseball, it’s as simple as that.”

The Rockies had climbed back to .500 with a series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers – the first series loss of the year for the team with baseball’s best record – but followed it with a three-game sweep in San Diego.

More yo-yoing will likely drop the team from contention as time is running out. Assuming the final playoff spot will go to a team about two games over .500, that would mean the Rockies need to go about 11-6 over the next few weeks.

The homestand starts with three games against the L.A. Angels (17-27), who have largely struggled this year but entered Thursday having won 5 of 7. Then come two against Oakland, four against the Dodgers and then an eight-game road trip split with four in San Francisco and four in Arizona.

The Rockies have already played a bizarre September. They’ve lost a 1-0 game on a walkoff and a 23-5 game in their own ballpark. They’ve won on late go-ahead home runs and late clutch hits and when erasing a five-run deficit. They’ve also lost after hitting a go-ahead eight-inning grand slam and in games they’ve led multiple times.

It’s been a winding road, that will now likely take its final direction at home.

“We can play with anybody,” Story said he’s learned from the recent string of competitive games. “We can win against anybody. I like to be optimistic and positive. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”


ROX FACTS

18.9%

Chance the Rockies will qualify for the postseason, according to baseball-reference.com

13

Stolen bases for Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, most in baseball entering Thursday.

15

Mike Trout’s MLB-leading home run total. Trout and the L.A. Angels begin a three-game series in Denver on Friday.

.258

Colorado’s batting average with runners in scoring position. No statistic has correlated more with success in the NL West when looking at the standings – No. 1 L.A. (.284), No. 2 San Diego (.312), No. 3 San Francisco (.268) and last-place Arizona (.252).

.908

Nolan Arenado’s OPS since Aug. 10, a span in which he’s hit .314/.354/.549. His career OPS entering this year was .897.

2.45

Daniel Bard’s ERA in save situations. He’s struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings in those spots.

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