With both the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants out of the MLB playoff race in the NL West, the two clubs find themselves playing for pride in a three-game series that started Monday night at Coors Field in Denver.
The Giants, who have been crowned World Series Champions two out of the last three season, are currently in the cellar of the division at 58-73. They are 19 games back of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and 15.5 games behind in the race for the two Wild Card spots in the NL.
Right now, the Dodgers are on cruise control heading into the last month of the regular season. Their toughest opponent the rest of the way and into the playoffs will be themselves. Yasiel Puig has been a man possessed this year, yet he always seems to find a way to make critical baserunning blunders every night. Still, the Dodgers look to be the favorite in the NL to represent the league in the World Series.
As for the Rockies, they sit at 62-71 and are currently 16 games back of the Dodgers and 12.5 games behind both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds for those two final Wild Card spots. Colorado continues to be decimated by injuries as they were last season. Carlos Gonzalez has been out for an extended period of time this year, as well as his superstar companion in Troy Tulowitzki.
In addition, the Rockies have had trouble keeping their pitching staff healthy. Closer Rafael Betancourt has a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right throwing elbow, and will try platelet-rich plasma treatment in a last-ditch effort to avoid Tommy John surgery. If the treatment doesn’t work, Betancourt’s career is likely over as he does not plan to pursue surgery as an option this late in his career.
Luckily for the Rockies, they have lefty closer Rex Brothers, who has shown he can shine in the role with some filthy stuff. Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood is also battling elbow problems. However, he hopes to return to the rotation soon as he will start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday night.
Well, the Rockies weren’t immune to injury again Monday night as center fielder Dexter Fowler bruised his left knee trying to steal second in the first inning. The next-man-up mentality saw Charlie Blackmon coming into the game for Fowler and producing in a big way. He stepped up and crushed a homer to right field off of Giants starter Barry Zito in the bottom of the third.
At the time, this gave Colorado a 3-0 cushion with Juan Nicasio on the hill for the club. Nicasio pitched six masterful innings of shutout baseball to improve his overall record to 8-6.
Wait a minute, I have failed to mention future Hall of Famer Todd Helton in this article. Todd started the party Monday night with a two-run blast to right-center off of Zito in the bottom of the first. The homer gave the Toddfather number 363 in his career in Colorado, and has him three hits shy of 2,500 in his remarkable career in the Mile High City.
After some heavy rain threatened to halt the game in the seventh, the Rockies cruised to a 6-1 victory in the first game of this three-game series. The club will try for its eight win in nine home games against the Giants on Tuesday night. Once again, since both clubs see the MLB playoffs becoming virtually unattainable, the Rockies and Giants find themselves playing for baseball pride within the NL West.