Tickets to recent Colorado Rockies’ games have been selling for as little as three dollars. The same fans that are spending small amounts for late-season viewing experiences are being given reasons to stick around.
A trend began for the Rockies amid several promotions for young players. With their hands on their head, in the shape of antennae, the club tried to stop their season from dying. Cockroaches never die, but the team’s playoff chances still did.
Even with the postseason dashed, the players of the Rockies are still fighting.
“(Fighting) shows the guys aren’t giving in,” Daniel Murphy said. “That’s two series wins in a row for us… they still count.”
The sentiment was most clear early in the team’s 11-10 win over the Padres.
With Manny Machado at the plate, Peter Lambert left a slider slightly elevated. Off the bat, it once again looked like the Padres’ third baseman had an extra-base hit. Robbing him of a surefire double was Charlie Blackmon who proceeded to launch the ball past a scurrying Daniel Murphy at first and into the dugout.
The play was a culmination of the year. It was one step forward and two steps back.
Instead of lying down and allowing the Padres to pile on to an early 2-0 lead, the Rockies fought back. A Tony Wolters’ double, Trevor Story bloop single and Daniel Murphy line drive in the second inning brought the club ahead.
“Offensively, good game,” Bud Black said. “It was a hard-fought win.”
Each hit was a shot of revenge to the no-good year the club’s had. Ironically, it came against the same club that virtually ended the Rockies’ hopes.
In a June 14 loss to the Padres, the Rockies gave up six runs in the ninth inning and five in the 12th in a 16-12 loss. It was the first time in league history that a team had carried a six-or-more run lead into the final frame and lost by four-or-more runs.
The Rockies split the four-game set but allowed 44 runs – a precursor to what happened the rest of the year.
After the loss, the Rockies have gone 28-52. Each proverbial lead they were given during the year was similarly lost.
The pitching staff fell into a downward spiral after the wayward weekend. In 78 starts since the slugfest, they’ve registered a 6.07 earned run average. Hidden in the wreckage is yet another glimpse of hope.
In the last eight games, the staff has five starts with five-or-more innings and three-or-fewer earned runs allowed. Lambert failed to join the club in the win but bounced back after an ugly start to go five innings and earn his first win since June 16.
Unsurprisingly, they’ve won five of the last eight games.
The entire rejuvenation has occurred without a single starter from the opening day rotation. Kyle Freeland is the only original rotation piece that has a chance of pitching again this year – the other four are out due to season-ending injuries.
The battery of the Rockies has also taken a hit. First-time All-Star David Dahl is out for the year with a high ankle sprain and both Chris Iannetta and Mark Reynolds, former veteran influencers of the club, have been let go.
In their stead, the Rockies have made several young players a part of the team. September call-ups have given an extra boost to the remainder of the squad that was dealt several blows during the year.
“This year, the influx of guys (to) all the guys that were here, it’s a good vibe for these guys,” Black said.
The bevy of firsts for the Rockies has given each day new meaning. Sam Hilliard and Josh Fuentes’ first home run, Jesus Tinoco’s first save – they all result in jolts of energy.
There are no goals left for the Rockies as a team. Story and Nolan Arenado are both charging for personal awards – Silver Slugger and Gold Glove – but a hefty void remains. A playoff berth and first National League West title could’ve filled it.
No matter how many wins they capture in the season’s final weeks, the campaign is a disappointing one.
It won’t stop them from trying though.