(This Woody Paige column originally appeared in The Gazette and on gazette.com. It has been updated.)
In the tradition of the little engine that thought it could, the belittled Rockies believed that they would.
As they climbed a Pikes Peak kind of incline the Rox huffed and puffed: “”Wild card club . . . playoff team . . .Yes, we can.’’
Oh, no, they can’t. After the results of the past seven days, the Rockies are finished for 2016. It’s over before it’s over. They dropped a game with the Dodgers, two out of three to the Miami Marlins, two out of three in a home-and-away series with the Texas Rangers, and the opener at Philadelphia. A wild card spot is not hit-and-miss anymore. It’s just a a swing-and-a-myth.
The Rockies needed to win 36, or more, of their final 50 games, based on last season’s wild card finishes. The Rox may not win half of those 50 games after the past week.
Oh, but what about the Phenomenon of 2007? The Rockies did go 31-18 down the stretch and amazingly prevailed in 14 of their final 15 regular-season games.
After blowing saves, games and tiny bubbles – including the Monday night and Tuesday afternoon games — this drive will require a miracle of Old Testament proportions
The Rockies need Rockgust, Rocktember and Rocky Balboa (or perhaps Timmy Tebow, who now wants to try baseball).
Mostly, they need relief pitchers.
The Kerosene Korps in the bullpen blew up twice in less than 20 hours, and the Rox have blown their chance to make a postseason run.
The lads from Colorado actually reached August playing meaningful games. The starting rotation of Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis and Jorge De La Rosa has been spectacular. Nolan Arenado, the National League home run leaders, has become the most valuable offensive-defensive player in the major leagues. And the new rookie outfielder is an astounding Dahlai Llama.
But the injury to shortstop Trevor Story was a devastating jolt, and Carlos Gonzalez, producing another megastar season, is limping, and sitting. First baseman Mark Reynolds is now out for weeks, if not the entire season, after undergoing hand surgery in Vail.
The the dubious decision by general manager Jeff Bridich and owner Dick Monfort not to chase a veteran, quality closer at the trade deadline, and the joint judgement by those two and manager Walt Weiss to protect Adam Ottavino, back from Tommy John surgery, and not throw him into the closer’s role (until too late), and the foolish call to put in, and keep, Carlos Estevez as the closer (until the past weekend), and the trade that brought Jake “”The Flake’’ McGee from Tampa Bay collectively have ended any hopes the Rox had to be a contender instead of a pretender.
Estevez and McGee squandered nine saves, the most by any closer combo in baseball. The Rockies’ staff is fourth overall with 17 blown saves.
Teflon Weiss can’t deflect the blame. Bud Black, someone?
Estevez has lost seven games and blown five saves. Those dozen debacles contributed mightily to the Rockies’ fade.
The Rockies lost four out of five to the Miami Marlins and the Texas Rangers, and they were ahead in all four.
Put away the trumpets, and quit tweeting that the Rockies are the second coming of ’07.
Wait ‘til next year, as usual.
The Rockies are 55-59 overall and, more alarming, 28-29 at home. As Weiss, coaches and players always emphasize to me in spring training, in order for this franchise to be more than just a bag of rocks, it has to win at least 60 percent of its games in Denver to be pertinent in the National League. Instead, the Rox are LowDown in LoDo.
Bridich didn’t do any favors with the bullpen he assembled this year. Seven relievers are riddled with earned-run averages on the wayward side of 5.00.
The Rockies’ insistence on pulling their starters before 100 pitchers certainly hasn’t been a positive. Once Weiss goes to the mound, it’s time for farce, fiasco and failure.
Pitchers should be brought in from the bullpen in a clown car.
On Friday night the Rockies led the Miami Marlins, a legitimate postseason team, 3-1 in the ninth. Enter Estevez. Exit Estevez after being torched for four runs.
On Saturday the Rockies scored 12 runs. You and I could have pitched the last three innings, and they would have won.
On Sunday the Rockies lost 10-7 after Gray had a rare 50 shades day.
On Monday the Rockies had a 3-1 lead in the ninth. Enter Estevez. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Exitevez. The Rockies fell to the No. 1 team in baseball, Texas, 4-1.
And on Tuesday afternoon, the Rockies owned a warm-and-fuzzy 5-2 lead in the eighth, and their lackeys were celebrating before the Rangers scored four runs. Estevez did not enter. Scott Oberg arrived and caused a grease fire that ended up in a 7-5 shambles.
The Rockies left town forlorn behind five teams for a wild card.
The Rox engine can’t.