It’s been since 2009 that the Rockies have played beyond Game 162 of the season. Sure it’s just the play-in to the play-in at this point, but the Rockies will play beyond their final regularly scheduled regular season game. With a 9-1 victory over the NL West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rockies have guaranteed at least a berth in a potential NL tiebreaker game.

With his 37th home run of the season — and the Rockies’ third of the game by just the second inning — MVP candidate Charlie Blackmon set the new Major League record for most RBIs by a leadoff hitter (101). Nolan Arenado opened the game with a bang, hitting his 37th home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning. Mark Reynolds followed with a two-run shot in the same inning and Colorado was steamrolling to victory.

The Brewers, who trail the Rockies by two games in the Wild Card, picked up a win in St. Louis to keep their hopes alive. Colorado would need to lose out and the Brewers would need to win out in order to force a tiebreaker game ahead of the one-game NL Wild Card playoff. A Colorado win on Saturday or Sunday would clinch outright the final NL Wild Card berth, as would a Milwaukee loss. The Rockies would host a tiebreaker game.

After an incredibly hot start to the 2017 season, in which the Rockies were up as much as 21 games over .500 (47-26) by June 20, they started to falter a bit. With every great winning percentage comes a great slump. (Just ask the Dodgers, who went 1-16 from Aug. 26 to Sept. 11.)

Starting June 21, the Rockies went 1-10 over their next 11 games, hurting their gargantuan record and bringing them back down to earth. They struggled more and more with each passing month until rebounding in September. And, thanks to the fierce competition in the National League and especially in the NL West, they put themselves in a precarious position from there on out.

Well, precarious enough that they would have to spend the rest of the season fighting their way to this very moment, thanks to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in the NL West, and the Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs for the Wild Card.

This was a season to remember from the start, what with an incredibly young, incredibly talented corps of rookie pitchers, the return of Chad Bettis from testicular cancer, Nolan Arenado’s Father’s Day walk-off cycle, and Charlie Blackmon’s emergence as one of the best — if not the best — leadoff hitters in the game.

All year long, the Rockies’ rookie pitchers — German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman — have turned heads. All but Hoffman have at least 10 wins; all four have winning records. Together, they have an average 4.70 ERA, led by the 24-year-old Denver native, Freeland (4.06). Lately, Marquez, just 22, has been especially lethal on his way to compiling a team-best 11-7 record.

Perhaps the greatest, single-game example of the starting rotation’s success came from none other than Denver native Kyle Freeland, who came within two outs of throwing a no-hitter against the White Sox. Melky Cabrera killed his hopes and dreams when he took advantage of a Freeland fastball and shot a shallow fly ball over Arenado’s head.

Still, it was the closest a Rockies pitcher has ever come to touching the franchise’s sole no-hitter, which Ubaldo Jiménez completed in 2010 against the Atlanta Braves. That’s almost unheard of from a rookie pitcher.

Perhaps the best story of the year was when Bettis made his return to the Rockies roster after relapsing with testicular cancer during Spring Training. In his 2017 debut, Bettis pitched seven scoreless innings en route to a Rockies 3-0 win.

Of course, no Rockies fan will easily forget Father’s Day, when Arenado started off the day with an extremely rare triple — he has seven this year — then slowly worked his way around the bases in reverse order with a double and a single. Only a home run remained missing in his box score. After striking out in what appeared to be his last at-bat, his chances of getting the cycle dropped off a steep cliff. Or so it seemed.

Thanks to a sketchy performance from the Rockies bullpen and some serendipitous play out of the Rockies’ final offensive stand in the bottom of the ninth, everything set up perfectly for Arenado to secure the walk-off home run. And that’s exactly what he did.

The bloodied, dirty jersey that he wore that day is still enshrined in the tunnel behind home plate.

Finally, the Rockies have been led by two MVP-caliber candidates in Arenado and Blackmon. All year long, the pair has been terrorizing their opponents on the offensive and defensive ends. Blackmon seems destined for his second consecutive Silver Slugger award.

Before Friday night’s game, he held a ridiculous batting average of .328 and a slugging percentage of .598.

As for Arenado, well, that’s just Nolan being Nolan. It would have been a travesty if he didn’t secure additional hardware in a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger by like month two of the season. His batting average was .305 with a .581 slugging percentage.

Together, the two had 229 RBIs going into the Dodgers game, which rose to 233 thanks to a home run apiece and an additional base hit from Blackmon.

So yeah, the Rockies earned their spot in the playoffs. Even if at this point it’s just a playoff to get into the playoffs.