Written by Jonathan Leshanski
Published: 01 October 2007
Every year I manage to take in a few games at Coors Field and this season was no exception. Usually I go to enjoy one of baseball’s most beautiful parks to watch a few games that are essentially meaningless to the home team, but are always fun to watch. Strangely enough my visits seem to coincide with a good team coming in and the Rockies treating them roughly.
This year was no different. I went to Coors just as the Mets and Phillies came into town in July. And this year something was very different. I found myself looking at this Rockies team and seeing something very different. The baseball was strong on fundamentals, the core was strong and the pitching, while not amazing, was better than average. Even before I saw them lay waste to the visitors (sweeping the Mets, and taking two out of three from the Phillies) it was obvious that this could be a team to watch out for - a real dark horse who under the right circumstances are capable of beating anyone.
It’s a lineup full of big hitters most notably Matt Holliday, Garret Atkins, Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki, and Todd Helton. This is the core that ate up opposing pitchers game after game. And tonight they’ll get the chance to try to do it once again.
For a few of these players winning might mean more than a chance to play the Phillies. Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzski are up for some of the most prestigious hardware the game has to offer. Holliday is an MVP candidate - and candidates whose team makes the playoffs usually get a lot more consideration when the Baseball Writers of America cast their ballots. That puts him in direct contention with Jimmy Rollins, and ahead of Prince Fielder and David Wright on some levels. And since this tiebreaker counts as part of the regular season both statistically and officially, he’ll have all eyes upon him tonight giving him a chance to garner a few more votes.
For Tulowitzki it’s about the Rookie of the Year honors, something for which he is in serious contention. Of the candidates he is the most complete ballplayer of the lot and his sterling defense more than compensates for the better offensive numbers put up by Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.
But those are secondary concerns to Holliday, Tulowitzki and the rest of the Rockies. That hardware would look good on the mantelpiece, but they would most assuredly prefer to win now and worry about the hardware later.
And the Rockies worked hard to get there especially over the last two weeks when they went 13-1 to make this day possible. So tonight they’ll play the 163rd game of the season, a home game in front of a sellout crowd in Denver.
It won’t be an easy night - the Rockies will have to face the Padres and one of great pitchers of the game, probable Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. Peavy is looking for his 20th win of the season. He sports a 2.36 ERA and was 4-1 in September. When Peavy is on he is dominating, and if you were to look at the pitching match up you might think this would be a very one sided game as the Rockies are answering with Josh Fogg (10-9 W-L, 4.79 ERA).
But not all of that plays out in Peavy’s favor. He’ll be pitching on three day’s rest and he hasn’t yet thrown a game at Coors this season. That means he’ll be dealing with rarified air, a hostile crowd, a powerful Rockies offense and possible fatigue.
To the Rockies, Peavy is just another mountain waiting to be climbed, a dangerous one for sure, but if they succeed it will be a cause for celebration and a wake up call for every playoff team.