Rockies set for NLDS vs. Phillies
Colorado earns second Wild Card berth in three years
LOS ANGELES -- It's fitting that for the Rockies' wild ride this season, they'll be rewarded as the Wild Card in the National League.
The Rockies pushed the Dodgers to the brink in the National League West despite trailing by as many as 15 1/2 games in early June but ultimately lost the division on the second-to-last day of the season with their 5-0 loss on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
So the Rockies will have to settle for the Wild Card for second time in three seasons and will open up in Philadelphia against the Phillies on Wednesday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
And although the club finished just short of becoming the first team to overcome a 15 1/2-game deficit to win a division, Rockies manager Jim Tracy was proud of his team for bouncing back from having the second-worst record in the league in early June to making the postseason.
"We'll look back on this and be extremely proud of this and we should be," Tracy said. "So someday we'll see we ended up coming up short, we'll see that we were right behind and there's no one in that room in May that thought we'd have a chance to win the division."
Tracy's optimism despite his team falling just short of the NL West-winning Dodgers was shared by his players in the clubhouse after Saturday's loss.
"The ultimate goal is get into the playoffs and we accomplished that," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "I don't think anyone would've thought three weeks ago that it would come down to this with us having chance to win the division. It's something that would've been fun to have but now we're focused on the playoffs."
The Rockies will face a familiar foe in the NLDS as they also opened up in Philadelphia two years ago and swept the Phillies on the way to their first and only World Series berth in franchise history.
|Gm. 1||PHI 5, COL 1||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||COL 5, PHI 4||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||PHI 6, COL 5||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 4||PHI 5, COL 4||Wrap||Video|
"We've been there before and we've done it," outfielder Brad Hawpe said. "So it'll be fun. It'll be an exciting opportunity and it's somewhere we were successful last time."
The Rockies, though, went 2-4 against the Phillies this season, losing both three-game series against the reigning World Series champs this year in Colorado in early April and Philadelphia in early August.
But as Iannetta noted, regular-season records against teams often carry little or no weight when it comes to the postseason.
"They were the world champions last year, but we're going to go in there and play baseball the best we can," Iannetta said. "It doesn't matter about what history says and what our record is against them or what they've done against us."
But one of the many challenges the Phillies bring is a starting rotation that is dominated by left-handed starters such as Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who are expected to start the first two games of the series with the order yet to be determined.
The Rockies have had trouble with southpaws. Through Saturday, they are 26-26 against left-handed starters and 66-43 against right-handers.
"We're looking to play the best we can against their starters and then at some point their starters are going to have to come out of the game," Hawpe said. "So then we'll have to get a good shot to get the next guy."
But in baseball, it's often the hottest team that wins the series and the Rockies know that well as evidenced by their magical run in 2007 where they swept both the Phillies and D-backs before being swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.
So that's why Tracy knows his team has as good a chance as any to play in the World Series again for the second time in three years.
"We're one of eight teams with the opportunity to play for a world championship and I'm sure there are 22 others that would love to have that opportunity," Tracy said. "To start against the defending world champions means that to get a chance to play an American League affiliate, you have to beat some really good teams."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.