There’s only about 3 weeks of Colorado Rockies baseball left of the 2019 season. In a year that opened up with most people placing the Rockies at least on the edge of contention, and many Rockies fans dreaming of the first-ever division title, the Rockies are solidly in last place in the National League West. Their chances of even climbing out of that hole took a big hit after dropping 2 of 3 to the Padres this weekend.
Much time and energy has been and will be spent on breaking down how the Rockies fell so hard. But in the context of a Major League baseball season, a collapse like this doesn’t happen all at once. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the season was lost, but there is a trajectory that can be deciphered. Here are the four series that sunk the Rockies.
And, for whoever wants to make the joke, we’re skipping past the 3-12 start ahead to where the season felt like it was going somewhere most Rockies fans wanted.
June 13-16: v. San Diego Padres
By mid-June, the Rockies were well on their way back from that horrid 3-12 start. Heading into a four-game series with the Padres, they were sitting at 35-33. Shoot, they won the first game 9-6 to go 36-33. That Friday’s Rockpile featured articles with titles like “Breaking down how the Colorado bullpen has been a steadying force this season.” Oh, we were so young. So naive.
Let’s look at the last three games of that series based on the combined boxscore.
Cumulative Box Score, June 14-16
You’ll notice that the Rockies outscored the Padres 38-22 in the first seven innings of the three games, but the Padres outscored the Rockies 17-1 in the final two innings plus extras. At the start of the ninth inning on Friday, the Rockies had a six run lead and approximately 99.99% odds of winning. Mike Dunn gave up four runs to force Wade Davis into the game and the Padres went single, single, lineout, single, and, with two outs on the board, a game-tying two RBI single. After Scott Oberg pitched a clean 10th and 11th, Jairo Diaz gave up five runs in the 12th to give the Padres the victory in a game the Rockies led 11-4 after seven innings.
While there was a very satisfying 14-8 victory in the middle, intrigue struck again on Sunday. The game was much more back-and-forth to start but the Rockies carried a 13-8 lead into the seventh. Wade Davis came in with a three-run lead, got two outs, but still allowed the Padres to tie the game on a two RBI triple from, you guessed it (no you didn’t) Greg Garcia. Bud Black then brought in Jon Gray on his bullpen day to try to get the final out with the bases load and...walked literally the pitcher Matt Strahm to give the Padres the lead.
Now, imagine Wade Davis could have gotten just two more outs this weekend. How does that change the trajectory and the mood in the club house? We can’t assume that two games would have made a difference when the team is 20 games under .500 now, but at the time it was significant, made only more so by what came soon after.
June 21-23: at Los Angeles Dodgers
The Rockies rebounded quickly from the slugfest of a weekend by heading to the desert and sweeping the Diamondbacks, getting them to 40-34, a full six games above .500. Alas, that would be the high-water mark of the season.
But, the Dodgers. They had already swept the Rockies at home at the start of the season and, despite the Rockies’ great play in May and June, the Dodgers already had an 11 game lead going into the series. But it was still a chance to make a statement. And here’s the thing: they did.
Friday night featured German Márquez and Walker Buehler throwing darts. Márquez went eight, gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out eight. Buehler gave up two solo home runs, a ninth inning single, and struck out 16 over nine. Neither walked anybody. It was everything wrong and right about baseball in 2019 in one game. But Matt Beaty, making his 62nd career plate appearance, hit his second career home run to break the tie and walk it off for the Dodgers, 4-2.
Saturday night wasn’t quite as crisp but the Rockies never trailed until the 11th inning, when also-rookie Alex Verdugo hit a walk-off homer to right to give the Dodgers a 5-4 victory. And on Sunday, the Rocks rode Antonio Senzatela to a 2-0 lead in the seventh, went down 3-2, then tied it again in the eighth thanks to a double from Tony Two Bags Wolters. In the ninth, Beaty reached on an error and then, with two outs, Scott Oberg served up a game-winning three-run donger to Will Smith, making his seventh appearance in the show. It was the Dodger’s tenth consecutive victory over the Rockies dating back to 2018.
Three games, tied in the ninth inning, all won by the Dodgers by walk-off home runs by rookies. The Rockies played just about the best baseball they could against the best team in the NL over the last six years, but they couldn’t eek out a single win. Maybe the season didn’t feel lost at this point, but it sure felt like something bad was coming.
Then Jomboy released this video, which now has over half a million views. Enjoy our misery, you jackals.
July 5-7: at Arizona Diamondbacks
The end of July was a bit of a mini slump, but splitting a four-game set with the Dodgers at home and then taking the Astros to the brink put Rockies fans in a mind that they could turn things around. They were still two games over .500 despite a three-game losing streak and had a favorable pre- and post-All-Star Break schedule for a cushion.
The Diamondbacks were having none of that. First, Zack Greinke twirled seven shutout innings en route to a 8-0 D-backs victory on Friday night, a game in which the Rockies managed six baserunners and Senzatela got rocked for seven runs. On Saturday, the Rockies managed just two solo home runs (Daniel Murphy and Trevor Story) while Arizona piled on for three in the sixth to give them a lead they would not relinquish to put both teams at .500. Finally, Sunday rookie Alex Young did not allow a hit in six innings while Márquez got tagged for four over six, leading to the Rockies once again getting swept on the road by a division opponent.
That loss dropped them below .500 for the first time since May 28 and they would not spend another day above even the rest of the season.
July 15-17: vs. San Francisco Giants
By this point, Rockies fans were holding onto just a sliver of hope that the season would turn out to be a success. They were sitting at .500 after taking a three-game set in Cincinnati, and only 1 ½ games back in a very crowded wild-card race.
The Giants won game one of the split double header on Monday by a score of 19-2, the most lopsided loss of the season. In the nightcap, still no Rockies offense (even if Chi Chi Gonzalez was able to stifle the Giants for a while) and they lost 2-1.
Tuesday seemed like it was going to be more of the same but the offense came alive in the ninth: home runs from Story and Ian Desmond (you just know he’s going to hit) tied the game at four. Wade Davis came on for the tenth and gave up two walks that would eventually come around to score on RBI singles. Shaw came in to stop the bleeding but only caused more hemorrhaging and the Rockies lost 8-4 in ten innings. The next afternoon made it look like we’d have a slugfest, but three of Colorado’s eight runs scored in the bottom of the ninth and the result was never really in doubt, 11-8 Giants.
Adding salt to the wound, San Francisco was in the middle of a stretch that took them from 11 games below .500 on June 30 to two games over by July 23. And they turned it around in large part thanks to this funk of the Rockies. This four-game series (including the double header) represented the final nail in the coffin, as the Rockies have not been above .500 since.
★ ★ ★
A season doesn’t collapse all at once; it takes multiple blows to weaken the edifice before it goes down. In these four series, all at crucial times in the season, the Rockies went 2-14 and it took them from wild card contender to well out of the playoff picture.
What do you think was the series that torpedoed the Rockies’ season? One of these four or a different one?
Which series broke the Rockies season?
This poll is closed
Father’s Day weekend bullpen blow-ups
Three Dodgers rookies walk-off the Rockies
Pre-All-Star Game sweep in Phoenix
Giants sweep the Rockies under .500 for good
Other (in comments)