|Pat Valaika hustles one of his two key hits in Rox victory|
The Colorado Rockies defeated the host San Diego Padres on Sunday by an 8-4 score at Petco Park. In so doing, the Rockies lowered their ‘Magic Number’ to just six in order to clinch the second NL Wildcard playoff berth.
Colorado sits with an 84-72 record following victory. Also on Sunday, the Milwaukee Brewers (82-74) and Saint Louis Cardinals (82-74) both lost.
They are the only two teams capable of catching the Rockies as we enter the final week of the 2017 MLB regular season.
The win also raised the Rockies final road record on the season to 41-40. It marks just the club’s second winning season on the road in their quarter-century existence. The only other team to finish with a winning road record was the 2009 club, the last Rockies team to reach the postseason.
The Rockies received a workmanlike effort over five innings on the mound from rookie German Marquez. The 22-year old righty allowed five hits and walked three batters, striking out two. He also earned the official win, raising his record to 11-7 on the season.
Manager Bud Black then utilized five different relievers to battle through the rest of the game. The Padres got to the first of those, Scott Oberg, for a pair of runs.
But the final four arms out of the Rockies bullpen totally shut down the San Diego bats. Pat Neshek, Jake McGee, Carlos Estevez, and closer Greg Holland combined to strike out seven over the final three innings, allowing no base runners.
In what would prove to be a back-and-forth game, Colorado took a slim 5-4 lead into the top of the 9th inning. Padres skipper Andy Green turned to 29-year old lef-hander Buddy Baumann out of his bullpen.
Baumann retired the first batter he faced. But then Pat Valaika and Charlie Blackmon each took him deep, Valaika homering to left field and Blackmon to right. An RBI double from Mark Reynolds later in the frame provided the Rockies final margin of victory.
“We’re in the driver’s seat,” Valaika said per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. “We’re not really chasing. This is on us. All we have to do is win some games. That’s a good feeling for us.“
Now any combination of the Rockies winning games and the Brewers losing games that equals six, and five with the Cardinals, will clinch it for Colorado.
”The games are magnified,” Black said per an AP story at Fox Sports. ”Our guys are embracing it.”
Black’s squad will finish up this week at home in Coors Field. There the Rockies will host the Miami Marlins for three games beginning tonight. Then following an off-day on Thursday, the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers will come in for a three-game weekend set to end the regular season.
Milwaukee is off on Monday, then will host the Cincinnati Reds for three games. The Brewers close out the regular season next weekend with three at Saint Louis. Prior to that series, the Cardinals will host the Chicago Cubs for four games beginning on Monday.