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If there has been one central theme to the Colorado Rockies’ 2018 season, it has been that every time the club appears to be down and out, left for dead, they spring back to life like the T-1000, marching ever forward.
Whether from fans or media or other teams, the Rockies have been presumed to be out of the running so many times this season that I’ve lost count.
But one group of people that I am absolutely certain have never counted the Rockies out… is the Rockies.
And they have plenty of evidence to support their ultimate faith in themselves.
The Rockies began the season unable to win a series at home, dropping the first three, and three of the first four, at Coors Field. They opened with an 11-20 home-field record.
They responded by finishing the season with a 36-14 stretch in front of their own fans, putting their final mark in Denver at 47-34.
They finished the month of April by scoring a grand total of two runs in a three-game set they lost to the lowly Miami Marlins, only scraping out a single win because of a remarkable performance from Antonio Senzatela who drove in the only run in a game where he came out of the bullpen.
They responded by going into Chicago to take two of three, the last in dominating fashion, and went on to sweep the then-hot New York Mets in their house.
The first truly devastating loss of the year came on May 11 in a game in which they held a 9-3 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers but a bullpen meltdown culminated in an 11-10 loss in extras. They bounced back the next day with a 4-0 win over the Brew Crew and won four of their next six games.
June was, by almost every measure, one of the worst months in the history of the franchise. Colorado went 11-16, posting their fifth-worst ERA and eighth-worst batting average numbers for the month,
After getting swept by both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks at home, the Rockies went on a road trip from hell that saw them drop two close games in Philadelphia before hitting rock bottom in Texas.
In one of the worst defeats in recent memory, the Rockies dropped a Sunday rubber match against the Rangers after leading 5-1, then 10-5, then 12-8 going into the final frame. One of the worst teams in baseball rallied three different times against the Rox high-paid bullpen, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk-off on Colorado leaving many to believe that the season for the Purplers had just come crashing down.
So they came back with a huge win, right?
Actually no. They got pounded the next night back at home in a 12-2 loss to the Mets. But then they rattled of four-straight wins, giving us a glimpse of what was about to happen in July. Colorado followed up one of their worst months ever with one of their best.
They lost the first game of the month to the Dodgers after having already taken the series in LA, then rattled off a record of 17-5 which ultimately gave them their second-best calendar month in franchise history.
This also began a historic stretch in which the Rockies went 30-16 over 46 consecutive games played against teams with winning records, culminating in a four-game sweep of the first-place Braves in Atlanta. That even included a brutal week in which the Rockies were walked-off on three separate occasions and lost four straight in St. Louis and Milwaukee, all of which they could have easily won
They began September going 9-3 then fell into a road trip that once again brought the postseason aspirations into question.
Losing two winnable games in San Francisco was followed by the biggest gut-punch of the year.
The Rockies were swept in LA while losing one of their two best position players to injury and getting the ugliest performance in the career of the other.
Again… the season was over. Except that again it wasn’t.
Colorado took out their frustrations by taking three straight against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The team that had spent the first day of every month of 2018 in first place in the NL West, and the team that bested the Rox in last year’s Wild Card game, was summarily and unceremoniously removed from the postseason picture.
They backed that up one last time by returning home to sweep the Phillies in dominating fashion.
But, with the division now within their grasp, there was another stumble to be had. The Rockies dropped the second to last game of the year, getting pummeled by the Nationals 12-2.
With one last chance to just lay down and die, the Rockies came out and throttled those same Nationals in the final game, 12-0, forcing a Game 163 for the division.
And that brings us to the present day.
Walker Buehler dominated the Rockies on Monday, allowing just two singles to Charlie Blackmon. A 5-0 game turned into a 5-2 contest with a couple of late homers from Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story but the game was never really in reach once the Dodgers took a 4-0 lead.
So they have to find it once again.
Whatever it is that has made them so resilient throughout the season – experience, leadership, mental fortitude, short memory – needs to be tapped into in a big way.
The Chicago Cubs are recent World Series Champions who expected to win the division and find themselves suddenly in a one-game, winner-take-all situation.
The Colorado Rockies are a team that has played with their backs against the wall all season. And those have been the times they are the most dangerous. They are the wildest of cards.
And behind their home-grown, emotional leader in Kyle Freeland, history suggests it would be unwise to count them out. Though, if you do, that’s just fine by them. They’ve been here before.