The long slog of 162 regular-season games will culminate Sunday, and in Denver, one team is packing for the winter while the other is getting ready for the next step.
The Colorado Rockies (58-103) are closing the worst season in franchise history while the Minnesota Twins have a final tune-up before beginning the best-of-three American League wild-card round Tuesday in Minneapolis.
The Twins (87-74) have won the first two of the three-game weekend series, including Saturday night’s 14-6 rout.
The teams will wrap up the regular season with Colorado sending Chase Anderson (1-6, 5.42 ERA) to the mound against Minnesota’s Bailey Ober (8-6, 3.53) in a matchup of right-handers.
Ober, who has never faced the Rockies in his short career, has pitched well since he was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul on Sept. 14. He was optioned to the Saints on Aug. 28 after posting a 5.63 ERA in five starts that month but has bounced back in September.
He is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three starts this month and can finish strong in the last game of the regular season. He has never faced the Rockies.
As much as he didn’t like being sent to the minors, Ober said he eventually understood.
“I was a little surprised, but it is what it is,” Ober said. “I try to take it day by day. Now I’m back here. I can definitely see their perspective on things. Hopefully, it works out for both of us in the long run.”
Ober isn’t likely to start in the upcoming wild-card series but might be in the mix if the Twins get to the divisional round.
While Minnesota prepares for its next phase, the Rockies are trying to end their disappointing campaign on a positive note. They are 9-19 in September and have dropped 11 of their past 13 games, and in the process lost their 100th game for the first time in franchise history.
In the 30 years since Colorado played its first game, it has always won at least 60 games in full-season competition — until this year. One reason for the drop is all five pitchers slated for the rotation are on the injured list, with some having spent most of the season on the shelf.
That opened up opportunities, and Anderson filled one of those holes. He made his debut with the Rockies on May 16 and spent August on the injured list but still made 17 starts for them. It took until his most recent start, Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, for him to get his first win.
In his career, Anderson is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts vs. the Twins.
The losing season for the Rockies has given young players a chance to prove themselves. Sean Bouchard, Elehuris Montero and Brenton Doyle did just that with home runs on Saturday night.
“It’s good to see some young guys contribute,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
–Field Level Media