David Bote made history late Sunday night by hitting a walk-off grand slam to give the Chicago Cubs a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals. However, that was not the most meaningful walk-off that occurred on Sunday.
The Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers were locked in a 3-3 tie entering the bottom of the ninth in Sunday’s series finale. After a lead-off single from DJ LeMahieu, along with a pair of walks, Rockies’ catcher Chris Iannetta came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Iannetta showed off his impressive plate discipline and took ball four to walk in the game-winning run.
The win brings the Rockies to within a half game of the Dodgers and a game and a half of first place in the National League West division. The Rockies had closed the gap in the division mostly due to a scorching-hot July during which they went 17-6. August, on the other hand, had gotten off to a putrid start as the Rockies lost seven of their first nine games before their three-game series against the Dodgers.
What made the series win even more impressive for the Rockies is that they did it mostly without the services of their best offensive player, Nolan Arenado, who was limited to just seven at-bats in the four-game series. Colorado’s young sluggers such as David Dahl, Trevor Story, and Ryan McMahon helped to carry the load in Arenado’s absence.
The Dodgers are currently without their All-Star closer, Kenley Jansen, and his absence became a glaring problem over the weekend. On Saturday, Dodgers reliever J.T. Chargois gave up the game-winning home run to Ryan McMahon. The Dodgers bullpen also coughed up the game on Friday due once again to a go-ahead home run off the bat of McMahon.
The Dodgers are also struggling due in some part to their vaunted offense which is currently experiencing an untimely slump. The Dodgers lineup has scored just 23 runs over its last seven games, and the team has gone 3-4 during that span. Their most prized midseason acquisition, Manny Machado, has cooled off since his arrival a few weeks ago, hitting just .238 so far in the month of August.
Meanwhile, the team atop the standings right now in this extremely competitive division, the Arizona Diamondbacks, is in dire need of a kick in the rear. The Diamondbacks were one of the most aggressive dealers at the trade deadline, acquiring infielder, Eduardo Escobar from the Minnesota Twins, as well as relievers Jake Diekman and Brad Ziegler to shore up their bullpen.After an exciting weekend series between the @Rockies and @Dodgers, an already tight NL West division race got even tighter.Click To Tweet
Arizona’s pitching has been phenomenal overall this season, with its starting rotation boasting a cumulative 3.86 ERA and its bullpen sporting an astounding 3.12 ERA, which is second-best in the entire league behind only the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks’ offense sits right in the middle of the pack, ranking 17th in the league with a collective .238 batting average.
The Diamondbacks’ inconsistent performance over the past several months has prevented them from establishing a big lead in the National League West. Since July 1st the team has played exactly .500 baseball, going 18-18 during that span.
While the weekend series win was a big step forward the Colorado Rockies still have some major issues that could hinder them in this tight division race. The Rockies’ pitching staff has underperformed all season long, with their starters posting a collective 4.28 ERA and their bullpen posting a ghastly 5.16 ERA, which is second-worst in the entire league in front of only the last-place Kansas City Royals.
Colorado can score a lot of runs, especially at home where it ranks 6th in the entire league in scoring. However, barring a drastic turnaround from their pitching staff, it appears as though the Rockies will have to rely on their offense to carry them to a postseason berth. The Rockies will be hardpressed to continue winning this way, especially should they run into any shutdown pitching staffs along the way.
That being said, the young, resilient Colorado Rockies are still poised to make a serious run at winning the National League West, as they have all the tools necessary to do it. Their established veterans such as Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Charlie Blackmon are playing at a high level, while their previously mentioned young sluggers are starting to elevate their level of play at this late stage of the season.
The National League West is setting up to provide fans with the most exciting divisional race here in the final month and a half of the season. Any of these three teams are capable of not only winning the division but also making a deep, significant run in the playoffs. The Colorado Rockies made their statement over the weekend, it is now incumbent upon their division rivals to respond.