Sunday September 16 seemed like an ordinary day by all accounts. The Arizona Diamondbacks were in Los Angeles playing the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks had been struggling as always against the Dodgers and had dropped the first two games of the series. The Dodgers were breathing down the Diamondbacks neck in the standings and it looked plausible that Los Angeles or San Diego could overtake Arizona. Northeast of Los Angeles the Colorado Rockies were playing host to the Florida Marlins. Like the Diamondbacks the Rockies too were struggling in their series having lost the first two games to the scrappy Marlins. I don’t think anyone could have imagined that on this fall Sunday afternoon two franchises would take a step forward that would lead them to meet in the play-offs for the right to represent the National League in the World Series.
The Arizona Diamondbacks would beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 on a strong pitching performance by Edgar Gonzalez. They would go on to win two series against the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers to close out their home schedule before going to Pittsburgh and Colorado. Their win/loss record would put them in a position of needing one win in the final 3 games to secure a play-off berth and the National League Western Division title. While that is extremely impressive considering the amount of youth on the Diamondbacks roster, it is nothing compared to the Colorado Rockies.
On September 16 the Rockies played the final game of the series against the Florida Marlins. In that game the Rockies bats came alive. In the first two games of that series the Marlins outscored the Rockies 17-8 but in this third game Colorado scored 13 unanswered runs to beat Florida 13-0. The momentum of that game carried forward to a four game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies swept the Dodgers which began a downward spiral for Los Angeles and eliminated any play-off hopes they might have. With their winning streak now at 5 the Rockies visited Petco Park for a three game series with the Wild Card leading San Diego Padres. The Rockies continued their hot streak sweeping the Padres running their winning streak to 8. Colorado was not done yet. They travelled north to play three games against the fading Los Angeles Dodgers and earned another series sweep making their winning streak 11 and setting up a three game series to end the season with the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
In the first game of the series the Diamondbacks sent ace Brandon Webb to the mound to face Jeff Francis of the Rockies. Webb had struggled all season against Colorado but not that night. Webb threw a masterful game beating the Rockies 4-2 breaking Colorado’s winning streak and in the process securing a play-off spot for the Diamondbacks. Prior to the second game of the series the San Diego Padres lost to the Milwaukee Brewers giving Arizona the National League West title. For the next two games the Diamondbacks rested many of their starters. The Rockies took advantage of that and beat the Diamondbacks two straight. The win on the final day of the season coupled with a Padres loss to the Brewers set up a one game play-off with the Padres to determine the NL Wild Card representative. The Rockies beat the Padres for the right to play the Philadelphia Phillies. During the divisional play-offs the Rockies swept the Phillies earning the first play-off series win in franchise history. They also ran their record to 17-1 since September 16 making the Colorado Rockies the hottest team in baseball.
Beginning Thursday the Colorado Rockies face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Championship Series. Because both the Diamondbacks and Rockies swept their series, both teams have 4 off days before play resumes. After 165 games (166 for the Rockies due to the one-game play-off with the Padres), an extra day of rest is usually a good thing. The question is what will 4 extra days of rest do to these two teams? Will the off days revitalize each team or will the extra rest cool them off and shift the momentum back to zero? For the Diamondbacks sake I hope that the extended off period will cool off the white hot Rockies and make this an even series. An even series would seem appropriate since these two teams have played each other so much this season and each game has been relatively close. Hopefully the Colorado players are enjoying their time away from the diamond and will be content just getting this far.