clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Game #160: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Randy Wolf

New, comments



Poseidon's Fist, in his series preview this afternoon, pointed out that the Dodgers had a history of being swept in their final series with the division on the line. Unfortunately, the Rockies also have a history of not getting the sweep or even 2-1 series win needed to win the division in the last (or second to the last) series. It seems the franchise has thus far made a habit of settling for second place when the dust settles after having the division within reach.


Situation: The Rockies were half a game ahead of the Dodgers with seven games left to play, three at Los Angeles, and then a four game home series against the Giants at Coors to close out the season. Similar to the situation we find ourselves in now, because Los Angeles had already won seven of the ten games the two teams had played up to that point, merely tying the Dodgers wouldn't be good enough, the Rockies had to finish one up in order to win the division.

It seemed at the time that the division would be settled by that series in Los Angeles, with the loser being the favorite to hang onto the wild card over the Astros. The Rockies were coming off of a series win in San Francisco highlighted by one run gems pitched by Kevin Ritz and Armando Reynoso. The first game was started by 16-7 Ramon Martinez for Los Angeles against 8-2 Bill Swift for the Rockies.

The Dodgers struck first with their first three batters reaching safely, Brett Butler on a base hit to left, Chad Fonville via the first of three errors by Walt Weiss, and then Mike Piazza doubled in both. Swift settled down after that, and the Rockies chipped away and eventually took a three to two lead on a Dante Bichette solo home run in the top of the sixth inning. The Dodgers answered in the bottom half however, with Mike Piazza reaching on Weiss' third error and next batter Eric Karros taking Swift deep on a 2-0 pitch to give Los Angeles the four three lead that would stick.

After losing the first game, the Rockies still had a chance to take the series and hopefully win the division. They struck back in game two on the back of #33, as Larry Walker took knuckle baller Tom Candiotti yard twice to power the Rockies to a seven to three victory. A young fireballing reliever by the name of Pedro Astacio was used by Tommy Lasorda in garbage duty and gave up two of the Rockies runs.

Game three, the deciding rubber match, and the Rockies hopes were high as they had Ritz, coming off his sparkling start at San Francisco going up against Kevin Tapani, who had been a somewhat disappointing midseason acquisition for the Dodgers from the Minnesota Twins, particularly pitching at Dodger Stadium, where he had a brutal 9.47 ERA. Tapani would pick up his only Dodger Stadium win for the Blue Crew that night as Ritz struggled early and often. He let the first three batters get hits in each of the first two innings, and the Dodgers ran to a quick three nothing lead. Bichette would tie it in the top of the third with a three run bomb, but the Dodgers scored the next four and would eventually take the game, seven to four.

The Rockies would still have a chance of winning the NL West, however, if they could somehow sweep the Giants in their final series, as the Dodgers would wind up going 2-1 against the Padres. Unfortunately, after losing the first two at home, the best the Rockies could manage was a split with the Giants, and thus needed to clinch the wild card with their win on the last day of the season.


Two years ago, the Rockies were actually chasing two teams ahead of them in the division, but the one they controlled their own destiny with wasn't the one they would wind up passing. It couldn't be known at the time, particularly after the Rockies had to win eleven in a row just to get into this position, but being two games behind Arizona with three games left against the Diamondbacks could have resulted in the Rockies first division win if they came up with a series sweep at home and it would have been Arizona playing game #163 against San Diego for the wild card.

Then, as now, the Diamondbacks magic number was just one, and it was a particularly tall order to ask for the Rockies with Brandon Webb pitching the first game of the series, but the Rockies had their own 17 game winner in Jeff Francis going up against him. The Diamondbacks ace delivered and earned win #18, a two run Conor Jackson home run was the big blow against the Rockies, and the rest was history.



If as we did with the Diamondbacks in 2007 we give the Dodgers the division but take the NL pennant (or dare I say it, a World Series title) we can be thrilled anyway. If we fade out of the playoffs like we did in 1995, we may be left to wonder if the 2009 division flag would look better flying over Coors than another NL Wild Card banner. Of course, the best of all possible worlds has us winning both. As in 2007, we have our best pitcher carrying our division hopes tonight. This time, let's finish this thing right.



Colorado Rockies @ Los Angeles Dodgers

10/02/09 8:10 PM MDT

Colorado Rockies Los Angeles Dodgers
Carlos Gonzalez - LF Rafael Furcal - SS
Dexter Fowler - CF Andre Ethier - RF
Todd Helton - 1B Manny Ramirez - LF
Troy Tulowitzki - SS Matt Kemp - CF
Garrett Atkins - 3B James Loney - 1B
Yorvit Torrealba - C Casey Blake - 3B
Ryan Spilborghs - RF Russell Martin - C
Clint Barmes - 2B Orlando Hudson - 2B
Ubaldo Jimenez - P Randy Wolf - P