Thursday afternoon’s matchup against the New York Mets was not the type of game the Colorado Rockies typically win. Colorado, 1-45 on the season when trailing after eight innings, entered the ninth down 1-0. Mets shutdown closer Jeurys Familia was on the mound.
And then a funny thing happened. The Rockies took advantage of some New York miscues in the field — Familia failing to cover first quick enough on an infield slap, then a wild pitch — to earn a 2-1 win. They were the type of bumbling errors you might be accustomed to seeing the Rockies make late in games. Only Colorado was on the opposite side of it this time.
For the last several weeks, the Rockies have been insistent that this team is different than in years past. They’re more talented. More resilient. It was difficult to believe them after two lifeless games against the Tampa Bay Rays. But then they have a week like this — completing a four-game sweep against the lowly Braves, taking a series at Camden Yards against the Orioles, the best home team in baseball, and grinding out that win in New York — and you start to think they might be right.
The Rockies (50-52) are making a push. They’ve won seven of their last eight, and 10 of 14 since the All-Star break. They’ve climbed to within five games of the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card race. The playoffs are probably still a pipe dream this season. But if nothing else, this stretch of baseball since the All-Star break has marked progress.
We know that, one through five in the lineup, the Rockies are as good as anyone. And for the first time in a long, long time, the Rockies have a solid starting rotation.
Jon Gray’s looked like a legitimate ace over his last 12 starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer 10 times and going seven-plus innings seven times in that stretch. Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, like Wednesday when his slider wasn’t working and he allowed five hits and one run through seven, he still baffles hitters.
Rookie Tyler Anderson’s now logged nine starts and has a 3.33 ERA to show. Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis and Jorge De La Rosa are also giving Colorado a consistent chance to win. Collectively, Colorado has logged 53 quality starts — good for seventh in the NL, and only one fewer than the 54 it recorded all of last year.
Things are looking up. All signs point to Colorado hanging onto outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez with the Aug. 1 trade deadline almost here.
“I think it would surprise me greatly if they weren’t wearing Rockies colors after the trade deadline and into the winter,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told ESPN’s Buster Olney on Wednesday. “We’ve got a team that’s playing well right now, and they’re a big part of that.”
There’s genuine hope right now. But Rockies fans have been sold hope before. At some point, it’s got to translate into playoff appearances, and not just the baseball equivalent of Lucy yanking away the football from Charlie Brown at the last second.