Unleashing their late-game routine resolve and tenacity once more, the Colorado Rockies scored three runs in the ninth and two in the 10th to overpower the flabbergasted Braves in Atlanta on Saturday night.
The Rockies intrepidly strive to accomplish a historic franchise feat in their 26th season.
Denver is the only city in Major League Baseball and North America since the unification of the National and American leagues in 1901 not to have won one division title and/or a World Series championship.
In this silver jubilee of the Rox, it’s about time.
The wild-and-woolly, and weird, West Division is right there, and, so, too, are the Rockies.
The Rockies are a Sunday victory over the Braves and a home sweep against Padres from an opportunity to nudge into first place in the tightest division with fewer than 40 games remaining.
Ninety would be a good number to get into Rocktober V as a division winner or a wild-card team. The Rox need to finish with an august August and produce a September to remember.
Hurlers and hitters, Rox.
Only three teams haven’t won a division from 1993-2017. The two ’93 expansion clubs — the Fish and the Rox — share that dubious disgrace with the Pirates. Pittsburgh did end up first in the National League East in 1992 when only two divisions existed, and the Marlins shockingly prevailed in two World Series as a wild-card team. The Purple Rox were dominated by the Red Sox in the 2007 Series after winning seven consecutive playoff games (and the play-in game). However, they’ve lost nine straight postseason games.
In 1995, the wild-card Rockies fell to the old Braves in three of four. The Rox never have appeared in back-to-back postseasons.
But they can overcome that stigma. Lately, the rotation has been Rox-solid, and the offense stopped being offensive and is ranked in the top five in eight categories — including runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, batting average and even stolen bases.
Walk-off and late-inning victories are occurring with more frequency, and the meltdown bullspitpen isn’t blowing leads and games as often. The startling series with the Dodgers has turned around the Rox, especially considering that L.A. and the Diamondbacks traded for high-profile veterans (including Manny Machado), while the Rockies added solid reliever Seung-hwan Oh and Matt Holliday, who is hitting .370, with three homers, in Albuquerque and waiting for the September call-up.
Brashness has replaced bashfulness with the Rockies, And Bud Black is calmer after the Kerosene Korps stopped lighting matches every night.
Denver Public Schools’ own Kyle Freeman is developing into the ace the Rox needed desperately, and Jon Gray returned from his stint with the Isotopes and has figured out the protons and the neutrons. Some sycophants are calling the Rockies’ starters their best ever.
Not so quick. The Rockies will have three with double-digit victories, but the 2009 staff possessed five pitchers with 10-16 victories each, and Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis, Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel and Aaron Cook combined for 67 victories. The current Rox Six-Pack is young, but growing in a hurry.
Hitters are helping the hurlers. At least four will crush more than 20 home runs; Nolan Arenado, as usual, should be the MVP, and Carlos Gonzalez has been a marvel and should be in the Comeback Player paragraph. Trevor Story is a real star shortstop. Tu-lo has been pushed aside in LoDo for Trev-or.
The Rockies’ difficult schedule lets up this week briefly. After the Padres, the Cardinals, who have surged since the Rockies shoved them in St. Louis, are in town for three.
From Sept. 3 to Sept. 23, the Rockies play 10 games at home against the Giants, the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks, then nine games on the road in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix. The Rockies are 26-24 against division opponents.
The Rockies conclude the season with seven straight out of the division at The Keg — four vs. the Phillies and three with the Nationals.
The Rox are in competition with the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks, the Cardinals and the Phillies, (plus the Cubs , Braves and the Brewers). The Giants and the Gnats are done.
The rocking and rollicking Rockies, who at one point had trailed the Braves by the same score that the Broncos were leading by in Denver (2-0), rallied — and are determined to make the postseason and history.