The baseball gods are clearly more of the naughty, mischievous type, than the austere and formal, everything-gets-done-in-six-days sort of gods.
How else would you explain the rapid turnaround in the NL Wild Card race?
On Monday night, the Colorado Rockies beat the San Francisco Giants on a thrilling 14th inning grand slam, and moved ahead of the Giants by four games. Colorado looked to have vanquished the Giants and to be in the driver’s seat by now.
Colorado then lost four of five and will play in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon with their Wild Card lead down to just one game.
These all-powerful gods of baseball must have a keen narrative sense, and were not prepared to surrender this particular story.
So what are we, mere mortals, to make of this yarn?
Only 120 hours ago, Colorado appeared to be the team of the moment. But a trip to San Francisco, where they are 1-4 this season, having scored just 10 runs, has diminished them.
And the Giants, who were overwhelmed by Colorado’s heroics last weekend, seem to have solved the Rockies bats. Plus, they don’t let the game get close into the late innings.
Much of the story has been written with pitching recently—great starting pitching from both teams, mostly the Giants, and some atrocious relief pitching from both teams...well, mostly the Giants.
San Francisco presents Matt Cain to the protagonist role tomorrow, and Cain, well, Cain dominates the Rockies.
He’s 2-1 this season, holding Colorado to a .177 batting average. However, he suffered his first loss of the season at AT&T Park to Colorado in May. He has beaten the Rockies twice since, with an ERA of 0.69 in those two games.
The Rockies will toss Jason Hammel to the Bayside mob, having already squandered their top two pitchers in their feeble previous games of this series. Hammel is the Rockies’ number five starter, but he has been plenty tough recently, going 3-1 in August and allowing only a 2.88 ERA on the road this season.
Perhaps the Rockies will seize upon the time-honored role of underdog, necessary in this genre. They have, after all, come from the depths of oblivion to be playing these important games and they do seem to do their best when they are less regarded.
They got a lot of attention very quickly this week, and it appears to have unhinged them.
This much is certain: tomorrow’s game is the latest “game of the season” for these teams. A Giants’ win and the heartache of last weekend is evaporated. A Rockies’ win and the Coloradoans can head into a ten-game home stand against three bottom dwellers (NY Mets, Cincinnati, and Arizona) with a two-game cushion.
Colorado’s schedule after Monday, aside from three games in San Francisco, is incredibly generous. It is easily possible to imagine the Rockies finishing the season with 91-92 wins.
The baseball gods are clearly going to keep this thing close. Even though fans of both teams are burning up their keyboards writing about the perils of the pennant race, gnawing on their fingernails, the gods do not care.
That’s the thing, you see.
There will be more “games of the season” for these two teams. They are too talented, too incomplete, too exciting, too preposterously in the moment to make tomorrow’s game as decisive as it seems. Both Rockies’ and Giants’ fans are going to have to bear the white knuckling caused by the thrill of the pennant race for several more weeks.
Those gods are pretty stinkin’ crafty.