For the first time in nearly a decade, baseball will be played by Colorado in the month of October. The Colorado Rockies clinched a one-game playoff berth, thanks to a loss from the Milwaukee Brewers, and will be playing the Arizona Diamondbacks.
There hasn’t been a “Rocktober” since 2009, when Colorado clinched the wild card, and played a best of five game series against the Phillies. Philadelphia won the series 3-1, cutting Rocktober pretty short.
The last time the Rockies made a significant playoff run was a full decade ago, in 2007, when they made it all the way to the World Series. They won 90 games that season — a franchise record at the time — and entered the playoffs as the Wild Card team once again.
They played Philadelphia that time, too, but swept them 3-0.They turned around and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, winning the franchise’s first NL pennant and making them the first team to win their first seven playoff games in 31 years.
They had won 21 of their last 22 games heading into the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. They were swept in that series, in an anticlimactic finish to a historic season.
My parents shared season tickets that year, as they have every year since, and a few years before. Some of my best memories are at Coors Field, but especially during that unprecedented playoff run in 2007 led by Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and Matt Holliday.
Although the team carries no players from that year, the 2017 team might be even better. With first-year manager Bud Black at the helm, the team boasts three Golden Glove winners (Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, and DJ LeMahieu), three Silver Sluggers (Arenado, Gonzalez, and Charlie Blackmon) and have six players batting above .300.
Gonzalez (.262) and Trevor Story (.239) are not among those six, but Story has 82 RBI’s this season, and Gonzalez has been heating up, batting .365 through the month of September.
Perhaps even more impressive than Colorado’s bats — which have never been their Achilles heel — is their pitching. The Rockies have more starting pitchers with winning records than losing, and a flurry of relief pitchers who actually provide relief, instead of losing the game in the last two innings (which used to happen a lot!).
Jon Gray is slated to start for the Rockies Wednesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Gray was drafted by the Rockies in 2013, and made his Major League debut in 2015. He started only nine games that year, and was credited for 0 wins and 2 losses.
In 2016, Gray started 29 games for the Rockies and finished 10-10. This year has by far been his best, starting 20 games and boasting a 10-4 record. In the last 13 games, Gray has held opponents to three or fewer runs with 80 strikeouts to 16 walks. Let’s hope he can carry that streak into Wednesday. He will face Zach Greinke (17-7), Arizona’s ace pitcher in what is sure to be a heart-thumping single-game battle to advance.
Tune in to TBS at approximately 6:00 pm to cheer on Colorado, in what we hope is the first of a few Rocktober games.