Colorado Rockies: 10 Highlights from the 2016 Season
Sep 29, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope that everyone was able to spend time with loved ones and make some special memories. With 2017 just a couple of days away, I always start to look back at some of my favorite moments from the year that is winding down. I wanted to do the same recapping some of my personal favorite moments from the Colorado Rockies 2016 season and the year as a whole. Here are 10 of my highlights:
Opening Day: The Rockies opened the 2016 season on April 4th in Arizona as the Diamondbacks unveiled the biggest offseason acquisition in MLB, sending Zack Greinke to the mound. Opening Day is always one of my highlights but this one was a special game, regardless of when it took place. The good guys exploded in the third inning for six runs featuring the first of many “StoryBombs” as Trevor Story, the rookie shortstop, drove an 0-1 pitch to deep to right field. The three-run shot gave the Rockies a 4-1 lead and they never looked back.
This was not the only dinger of the night for Story, who grooved another deep into the left field bleachers. Carlos Gonzalez, and Nolan Arenado also added dingers as the offense combined for 10 runs on 15 hits. It was a very fun start to the season.
The Home Opener: This is also a wonderful day for Colorado Rockies fans. There is no better place to be than 20th and Blake to catch the pre-game celebration for another year. This one included presentations of Silver Slugger awards to Arenado and Gonzalez. Nolan wasn’t done receiving awards getting a Gold Glove and the Wilson’s Defensive Player of the Year as well. It was a largely disappointing game as the Padres torched the Rockies with 13 runs but Trevor Story greeted his home crowd with two more bombs to give him six in the first four games of his career, a major league record.
Nolan Torches the Giants: Arenado always seems to play well and come through in the clutch against the Giants … and April 13th was no different. Arenado had possibly his best offensive output of the year, going 4-for-5 on the night. He hit two home runs to go along with a season-best seven RBI. He paced the Rockies as they claimed a 10-6 victory over San Francisco.
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Gray’s First Start: Jon Gray took the mound for the first time for the Rockies on April 22 at Coors Field against the Dodgers. It turned out to be one of the most entertaining games of the year. Gray gave up three runs in the first inning but bounced back in a big way. He was able to strike out 10 Dodgers over five innings, a precursor to how dominant he was going to be in 2016.
This game also included one of the most impressive throws I have ever seen when Story nailed one off the “Bridich Barrier” in right field and tried for third. Yasiel Puig showed off his cannon, throwing Story out from the warning track in deep right field, placing the ball into Justin Turner’s glove in the air. The Rockies overcame a 3-0 and 5-4 deficit, scoring two on an eighth-inning Brandon Barnes triple to take the lead. Barnes’ enthusiasm has always made him a fun guy to watch, even moreso when he comes through in the clutch to give the team a win.
Tyler Anderson’s debut: Anderson was one of the most pleasant surprises for the Rockies in 2016 and his debut paved the way. It came on Sunday, June 12 against the Padres. Anderson dazzled over 6.1 innings not allowing anyone to score, but he was removed with and Gonzalez Germen allowed an inherited runner to score. Anderson ended the day with one earned run, with six strikeouts and no walks. The Rockies offense answered in the bottom of the seventh and they held on for a 2-1 victory.
Jul 25, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Colorado Rockies outfielder David Dahl (26) high fives teammates after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
July 26th-August 3rd: This may have been my favorite time of the 2016 season. The Rockies had a rough six-game road trip between Baltimore and New York. They responded with a five-game winning streak, taking two of three from the Orioles and three of four from the Mets. The streak included dominant starts from Bettis, Gray, Chatwood and Tyler Anderson. The bullpen wasn’t terrible, not allowing a run for multiple games before Boone Logan blew the series finale to the Mets.
The Rockies then returned home and took the first two games from the Dodgers before dropping the finale. In the midst of the streak, the Rockies called up David Dahl, who provided two home runs and a hit in each game to prove he could hang at the Major League level.
The most exciting part of this stretch was the Rockies reached .500 at 52-52, before surpassing it at 54-53 and were within a couple games of the Wild Card. It showed that it was a team on the brink of competing. But it left us all wondering what would have happened if Story had not torn his thumb ligament in the midst of the streak.
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Rockies Walk-Off on the World Champs: The Chicago Cubs and all of their fans came to Coors Field in late August and the Rockies took two of three from them. The series opener was a thriller in extras as the Cubs scored one to take the lead in the top of the 11th. Nick Hundley singled off Aroldis Chapman, bringing Ryan Raburn to the plate. He drove one to deep right, giving Hundley a chance to try for home. With some luck, he scored as Javier Baez’s throw got past catcher Wilson Contreras and bounced into the dugout, which awarded Raburn home and the Rockies a win.
Another highlight of this victory was seeing Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra wave goodbye to the Cubs’ fans who were trying to take over Coors Field.
Bettis Shuts Out the Giants: Chad Bettis had some of his best stuff of the year on September 5th at Coors Field where he was masterful against the San Francisco Giants. He shut them out, pitching a complete game while allowing only two hits, no walks and striking out seven. The game also featured CarGo’s 25th home run of the season as the offense gave Bettis plenty of cushion, scoring six runs.
Gray’s “Best Performance”: On September 17 at Coors Field, Gray had one of the most impressive pitching performances of the season for any team. He twirled a complete game shutout against the Padres and struck out 16 over nine innings. Gray allowed only four hits and did not walk a batter.
The stunning outing made Gray a finalist for MLB’s Best Performance Award but lost out to Max Scherzer’s 20-strikeout performance. Still, it was the arguably the best pitching performance ever at Coors Field and displayed just how good Gray can be.
The Offseason: The Rockies illustrated a great deal of improvement in 2016 and the start of the youth movement that has had everyone so excited for the past couple of years. The start of this offseason has been unfamiliar for long-time Rockies fans as they made moves consistent with a team that is trying to compete.
It started with signing Bud Black to be manager. He was a more experienced, more expensive, and out of house candidate and the Rockies signed him. The offseason aggressiveness continued with the signings of Ian Desmond and Mike Dunn to contracts. Recently, news came out the team also signed Alexi Amarista to a one-year deal.
Say what you will about the moves themselves but the fact that the Rockies are actually making moves with the intention of competing in 2017, along with the team we saw in 2016, is refreshing. I have a good feeling that next year’s list of highlights may have to be a little bit longer.