The 2018 Colorado Rockies are following the same path as the 2007 team that made the franchise’s only World Series appearance.
The Colorado Rockies can’t be blamed if they’re having a case of deja vu.
The Rockies (90-70), winners of their last eight games, clinched their second straight postseason berth with a 5-2 win over Washington on Friday. Now with a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, their magic number to clinch the first division title in franchise history is down to two.
It’s a scene the Rockies have been through before. In 2007, they won 14 of their last 15 games, including a run of 11 straight, and beat San Diego in an extra-inning thriller for the NL Wild Card spot. They carried that hot streak into October, dispatching Philadelphia and Arizona in series sweeps to make their only World Series appearance.
The only thing that could’ve slowed those Rockies down was a long stretch of inactivity, and that’s exactly what happened. Their sweep of Arizona in the NLCS, combined with Boston needing seven games to beat Cleveland in the ALCS, meant that Colorado waited nine days before the start of the World Series. As hot as they were going into the Fall Classic, they were just as cold against Boston and lost four straight.
These Rockies, however, have a new cast of players ready to take the team even further than their 2007 counterparts. NL MVP candidate Trevor Story returned to the lineup on Sept. 24 after suffering an injury scare to his elbow a week earlier, and has nine home runs in September. Story is tied for the team lead in RBI (105) with Nolan Arenado, who reached the 100-RBI milestone for the fourth straight year. David Dahl has homered in five straight games after another on Friday.
The fact the lineup is so deep has the Rockies confident they can make a long playoff run this year.
“Everyone’s playing a factor,” Arenado said on Friday while celebrating their latest playoff berth, “and that’s why we’ve won eight in a row. Because everyone is playing a part.”
The Rockies recent run began in Arizona on Sept. 21. Coming off losing three straight to the Dodgers and falling 2.5 games behind in the division, Colorado swept their NL West-rival Diamondbacks. They next swept a four-game series against the Phillies, scoring at least 10 runs in three straight. Their win against Washington on Friday stretched their winning streak to a season-high eight games.
Manager Bud Black says he knew the team was about to break out while playing in Arizona.
“I just had that premonition that we were going to start bopping the ball,” he said on Friday. “I wish I could explain it, why I felt that. From Arizona I thought we were taking better swings, and I thought it would carry over when we got back home and it sure did.”
The batters aren’t the only ones making contributions. The pitching staff is anchored by starter Kyle Freeland, who gave up two runs in six innings against the Nationals on Friday. That left the Denver native with a 2.85 ERA to finish the season, a new team record. German Marquez has recorded double-digit strikeouts in five of his last six starts, and tied the major league record with eight strikeouts to start a game on Sept. 26.
The Rockies have two more games against the Nationals to finish the season, but are already focused beyond that. Last year the Rockies lost in the NL Wild Card game to Arizona, and Black says they have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“We got to continue it,” he said. “This is not done yet.”