Nolan Arenado offered a prediction on June 18. Taking over the mic following his walk-off home run to complete the cycle, the Rockies star third baseman told the crowd at Coors Field, “It’s going to be a fun summer in Denver.”
It was hard to doubt Arenado’s proclamation then. The Rockies, at 20 games over .500, were near their highest water mark ever as a franchise. Who could’ve predicted that the rest of summer would play out like the one your best friend spent laid up with a broken leg?
Since Arenado went full-on superhero, the Rockies have been among the worst teams in baseball. They’re 25-36 in the games after he gave the speech with the gash over his eye. A 6-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday dropped them to 72-61.
Now with only 29 games and a month of regular season remaining, the question is: Can Colorado hang on?
That enormous lead the Rockies built up over the first 2 1/2 months of the season has put them in the position to do so. Colorado sits three games up on Milwaukee and 5 1/2 up on St. Louis in the race for the last National League Wild Card spot. The projection sites like the Rockies’ chances.
The remaining schedule won’t be easy, though. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who are 2 1/2 games ahead of Colorado for the first Wild Card spot, come to town Friday. The Rockies play them seven times, the Dodgers seven times and the Marlins three times.
“It’s a great chance for us,” Carlos Gonzalez said of the upcoming series against Arizona. “We’re going to play the team that we’ll possibly see in the Wild Card game. I think it’s important for us to bring our best game.”
There’s also the issue of the Rockies’ offense. The Rockies just haven’t been hitting lately. They’ve failed to score more than four runs in 18 of their last 22 games, the principle reason why they finished August 12-15 — their first month with a losing record since last September.
“It’s been rough,” said Gonzalez. “We’re not hitting the way we normally hit.”
Asked if he was happy to be through with August, Rockies manager Bud Black refused to wallow.
“August is a month,” Black said. “I like August. I like June, I like July, I like May. I like baseball. I like the baseball season.”
The ship Black guides has taken on some water after getting out to that fabulous start. The last 2 1/2 months haven’t been nearly as fun as Arenado predicted. But the Rockies can do something they haven’t since 2009 — play in the postseason — if they can hang on.
If they do, who knows what could happen? Arenado hasn’t dispensed any predictions about it, but fall in Denver could be fun, too.
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