With the arrival of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline on Monday, the Rockies only really ever considered trading lefty specialist Boone Logan. And even then, general manager Jeff Bridich said discussions never got that far.
The message was clear: The front office believes in this group the way it is, and that mentality has spread throughout the rest of the clubhouse.
“I feel good with the group we have in here. We’re turning the corner,” Carlos Gonzalez said after he extended his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games. “Obviously they believe in us. We’re playing good baseball, and that’s all you can ask for. We’re playing .500 ball right now but you can’t be satisfied because you’ve got to continue to work every day to try to win a spot in the postseason.”
CarGo isn’t afraid to talk about the playoffs. He talks about it all the time with his teammates. After a turnaround road trip where the club had legitimate chances of sweeping the Orioles and Mets, those sentiments held weight in August for the first time since 2010.
The atmosphere was exceptional compared to any other time this season when the Rockies returned home. Closer Carlos Estevez even handed out inflatable ballon animals to many teammates to denote the celebration. Feel good Motown music warmed the clubhouse. Fittingly, Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” closed out the celebration mix. This team feels like it is coming out from a place where sub .500 baseball is the standard.
As Logan put on his Texas state flag socks and shirt that said “Don’t California my Texas” he suggested the best way for the team to continue this streak is for starters to continue going deep into games. In July, the club had 20 quality starts, which is a record for the Rockies in one month. Logan and the bullpen have benefitted tremendously.
“I didn’t expect any moves to be made,” Logan said. “I think the last couple weeks have shown our capabilities. I think our front office is trusting us in that he’s thinking he likes what he has [Referring to Bridich]. I felt flattered that there’s a bunch of teams that wanted me to help out with their team, but I’m satisfied I can stay here and be a part of what we’re doing.”
Jon Gray answered Boone Logan’s call in the first game in August, throwing five shutout innings and allowing just two hits against the Dodgers in a 7-3 victory, who hold one of the wild card spots the Rockies are striving for. Now Gray and manager Walt Weiss credited his changeup for the dominate performance. Gray sees a different energy when he pitches the way the Rockies are surging in the standings.
“I think there is a different energy all around the clubhouse,” Gray said, who improved to 8-4 in his rookie campaign. “The guys’ attitudes, everything is really good right now. I think we’re doing everything we need to do to get back, so I think it makes it really important, and we’re going to do anything we can to keep it going.”
With Trevor Story going down for the rest of the season, another rookie has stepped up. David Dahl, who got called up a week ago and made his Coors Field debut Monday, extended his hitting streak to eight games, which is the third longest hitting streak by a Rockie rookie to begin a season. The last time Dahl batted at Coors Field was at his pre-draft work out in 2012.
The Rockies are finding different ways to win. The Rockies scored three runs off only one hit by Nick Hundley in the sixth inning. Weiss is seeing the adaptability with his team as the best shot of staying a contender.
“You don’t always have to slug,” Weiss said. “I feel like we still can slug, but sometimes you have to win like we did tonight. Just passing the baton and stringing together a lot of tough at bats.
“[The] Dodgers are always a good club. There’s no downplaying the importance of these games in the division, but I think we need to keep our opponents nameless and faceless, go out and win games. I don’t care who we’re playing.”
The winning pitcher gets to pick the music in the clubhouse post-game. Gray selected the parody artist Alphacat, who impersonates Presdident Obama singing popular songs. While the choice is in the running for the strangest pick of the season, one thing is clear: The Rockies starting pitching is starting to get this clubhouse in a relaxed and jovial mood.