Much like the rest of the soldout crowd, I sat in the rain-soaked seats of Coors Field last year for what would turn out to be the final game of the Rockies’ postseason.
The club didn’t score a single run in Game 3. They scored only two runs in the entire three-game sweep. Watching the Rockies pile on runs in a meaningless game at the end of the 2019 season was salt in the wound.
In the series’ entirety, the Rockies had a total of 14 hits. Friday’s game alone produced 11.
The series didn’t feature a rotation like the Houston Astros’ trio of Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Rockies’ hitters faced Brandon Woodruff, Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley in consecutive games.
No matter what lineup or strategy the Rockies used, their efforts were all for naught. The disappointment didn’t just stem from getting beat, but from not even appearing to show up.
The excitement was palpable for the club once again Friday. Turmoils of recent months appeared to evaporate as the Rockies got vengeance on the Brewers, setting them back in the division race in the process.
A hefty crowd showed up once again to witness the Rockies’ win – a fanbase that’s on pace to produce the 11th annual attendance of three-million-or-more in franchise history.
Missing from last year’s postseason club were several key contributors to this year’s season-ending reversal. Daniel Murphy, Raimel Tapia and Sam Hilliard were not part of the club’s postseason. The trio combined for five hits and RBIs apiece in the latest win.
The biggest shot came off the bat of Tapia in a pinch-hit chance:
🦀 GRAND CANGREJO 🦀 pic.twitter.com/wFnCIbnQjP
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 28, 2019
He became the first player in franchise history to hit a pair of pinch-hit grand slams in a Rockies uniform. The four total long balls in a pinch-hitting role for Tapia are tied for second-most all-time for the franchise.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t part of last year’s festivities. Instead of including the youngster, the Rockies chose to include their late-season addition, Matt Holliday. In his short time after signing as a free agent, the former Rocktober standout hit .283 in 25 games.
For his postseason efforts, Holliday went 1-for-5 after appearing in all three games and starting one.
The Mendoza line was Tapia’s home towards the end of last year – bringing logic to his absence on the postseason roster.
Since then, the Rockies’ young players have come a long way.
Tapia is hitting .276 this year, despite entering Friday’s contest amid a 7-for-46 slump. Several times, the outfielder has made his presence felt this year. Diving and leaping catches in the outfield have been just another part of the equation.
Hilliard is also finding his way. In 25 games, he’s gone 19-for-71 (.268) with six home runs already. For Triple-A Albuquerque, he showcased his power before the promotion, launching 35 long balls in 125 games.
The buzz that the duo brings to the club is real. After losing seemingly every series since June, the Rockies’ September newcomers are all making their mark.
If you close your eyes long enough, you may just be able to imagine this Rockies’ battery hanging 11 runs on the Brewers in a division series game.
Each of the 91 losses this year has seemed to break the fan’s hearts. The players in the clubhouse, after preaching their belief in rebounding after last year’s blunder, have taken each one equally hard.
It’s a lost year, but the Rockies have something to play for. Forcing the Brewers to partake in a winner-take-all game to make the postseason would be a spoonful of payback for last year.
The bigger question remains: Was it the last time the Rockies will make the postseason with their current core intact?