The Colorado Rockies showed a ton of fight and passion and an absolute unwillingness to quit in their first postseason game in eight years, but the Arizona Diamondbacks were the better team on Wednesday night. They came out confident with the bats and employed a secret weapon — the pitcher hit that has killed Colorado this season — to win the National League Wild Card game by a score of 11-8.
The contest couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Rockies who saw their promising young future-ace, Jon Gray, get knocked around early and often, giving up back-to-back singles to David Peralta and Ketel Marte to start the game, then getting ambushed by Paul Goldschmidt who cracked a three-run home run to put the Diamondbacks up by three before Gray had recorded an out.
The Wolf managed to strand a pair of runners and escape the first, but it just wasn’t his night. Either by random lack of sharpness, a bit of nerves, some poor pitch selection — or likely, a mix of all three — he ended up having his worst outing since his first post-break game against the New York Mets.
Peralta and Marte got to him again in the second with a single and an RBI triple, chasing Gray from the game having recorded just one out in the second inning. Scott Oberg came in and stranded the runner at third with impressive strikeouts of Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez. Gray’s 1.1 IP amounted to the shortest postseason start in Rockies history.
The Diamondbacks weren’t done yet, though, extending their lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the third on a two-run home run from former Colorado utility-man Daniel Descalso. The homer came off of Tyler Anderson, who also gave up a single to Jake Lamb (the other run that scored) giving him two unusually hard-hit balls left-on-left.
But just when it looked like the game was turning into a laugher and current-ace Zack Greinke was free to cruise to a huge shutout victory, the Rockies started to climb back into the game.
Carlos Gonzalez started things with a single on a line drive to right. After a fielder’s choice put Nolan Arenado on first base instead of CarGo, Trevor Story singled up the middle to give the Rockies a couple of one-out base runners. Gerardo Parra singled to almost the same spot as Story to get the Rockies on the board and move his speedy shortstop to third. Story scored on a groundball to first base, a productive out from Mark Reynolds. Then, Jonathan Lucroy came up huge with the hardest hit ball to that point in the game for Colorado, smashing a double to right-field that one-hopped the wall and scored Parra all the way from first. The Rockies had cut the lead in half but had more in the tank for the frame, getting a clutch pinch-hit single, the third right up the middle in the inning, to suddenly make it a 6-4 game. Charlie Blackmon flew out to shallow center field to end the inning but not before Amarista’s RBI hit chased Greinke from the game after just 3.2 innings. He gave up four runs on six hits.
Chris Rusin came out of the bullpen and did his usual thing, restoring some sanity to the Rockies defensive half-innings. He pitched 2.1 innings, giving up two hits, walking two, and striking out three, allowing zero runs. Once he did work into a jam in the sixth, he was lifted for Pat Neshek who got Goldschmidt to hit a two-foot grounder and struck out Martinez to strand another runner at third.
Lucroy became only the third player in Rockies franchise history to tally two doubles in a postseason game, missing a home run to dead center by a matter of feet to start the seventh. He moved to third on a wild pitch but Ian Desmond, who entered the game in a double-switch when Neshek replaced Rusin, struck out on a pitch way above the strike zone. With the runner at third and one out, MLB hits leader Charlie Blackmon called an audible and decided to lay down a drag bunt. He was narrowly thrown out at first but Lucroy scored to pull the Rockies within one.
Neshek stayed on to pitch the bottom of the seventh and allowed a single to Lamb, and a walk to Descalso around getting Pollock to pop out to first. Bud Black then came out to the mound but decided to stick with Neshek who promptly struck out Jeff Mathis. For some reason, Torey Luvollo decided to let relief-pitcher Archie Bradley hit with two on and two out.
Still, the Rockies did not quit. Arenado and Story smashed back-to-back home runs off of Bradley in the top of the eighth. It was the first postseason home run in each of their career’s and the first time since the 2007 NLDS that a pair of Rockies have gone back-to-back in a postseason game. Colorado even got a two-out pinch-hit double from Pat Valaika to put the tying run in scoring position but Lucroy’s hard line drive to deep right field was caught this time, the Rockies once again pulling to within one run.
But again, the Diamondbacks pulled away. For the second time in as many innings, Arizona got after one of Colorado’s best relievers, this time Greg Holland, getting singles from Goldschmidt and Lamb who had a four-hit game. Then, again for the second time in as many innings, the Diamondbacks got a two-out, two-RBI triple, this time from Pollock who lined one into the right-centerfield gap. In so doing, Arizona became only the second team in MLB history to record at least four triples in a postseason game. Mathis surprised everyone with a bunt single after that to score Pollock and make it an 11-7 game.
The Rockies got a couple of hits from Desmond and Gonzalez in the ninth to get another run, but it was too little too late as the game ended 11-8 on an Arenado groundout.
And that wraps up the Colorado Rockies 2017 season.