Rockies’ last homestand could make or break playoff chances

Homestand, sweet homestand.

Nine consecutive games on the green, green grass of Coors Field seemingly gives the Rockies a chance to get back on track and strengthen their chance to make the playoffs.

“All we want at the end of the year is to control our own destiny,” shortstop Trevor Story said after the Rockies were swept in three games at San Diego, dropping their record to 20-23.

Their date with destiny begins Friday night with the first of three games against the Los Angeles Angels. It seems like a golden opportunity, but the fact is, Coors Field has been a home-field disadvantage in this shortened season. The Rockies are 9-12 in LoDo vs. 11-11 on the road. Their home hitting has been inconsistent, they’ve lacked power and their pitching at home has been poor.

Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who said the team misses the energy fans provide at Coors, tried to explain why the Rockies have struggled at home.

“Denver is just a tough place to play,” Arenado said. “I mean, it’s tough (physically), and that’s a home-field advantage.”

But then Arenado noted that because Coors Field is not a pitcher’s park, some of the advantages are negated.

“It’s a hard place to pitch,” he said. “And hitters like coming there, so it’s not a home-field advantage like going to (the Los Angeles Dodgers), or San Francisco, back in the day. That’s something we have to find a way to beat. Our pitchers have kept us in games, and the offense hasn’t been there. Then there are times when we’ve scored runs and the pitchers have given up some.”

The statistics bear that out:

— Rockies pitchers have a 7.24 ERA at home, which would be by far the worst in franchise history. The numbers, of course, are skewed by the small sample size.

— The Rockies have scored a healthy 5.71 runs per game at Coors, but that’s been eclipsed by the opponents’ 7.71 runs per game.

— Colorado’s .296 home batting average is the best in the majors, but that’s been negated by the opponents’ average of .326.

— The Rockies have hit 29 home runs at Coors vs. 32 by visiting teams.

— The Rockies have hit a home run once in every 25.31 at-bats at Coors, which ranks just 14th for home offenses. The Padres, by contrast, lead the majors with a home run in every 15.15 at-bats at Petco Park.

Numbers aside, there is a lot at stake during the final homestand. Colorado must win six of nine games just to finish .500 at Coors Field.

Manager Bud Black, however, is not looking at the big picture. He said his players can’t afford to.

“Let’s think about our next game, Friday night against the Angels,” Black said. “You can’t think long-term. You’ve got to think about Friday night, right? We’ve got to think about putting a good ballgame together. We need (starter) German (Marquez) to do his thing and pitch well.”

Trouble is, Marquez is 0-4 with a 6.00 ERA over his past six starts, and he’s 1-3 with a 7.03 ERA in four starts at Coors Field.

Final Homestand

The Rockies enter their final homestand of the 2020 season with a 20-23 record and in ninth place in the National League. The top eight teams make the postseason. Here’s a look at their three upcoming opponents:

Los Angeles Angels (Friday-Sunday): 17-27 entering Thursday’s play, they have the majors’ premier player in Mike Trout but own a 5.22 team ERA.

Oakland A’s (Tuesday-Wednesday): With a 27-15 record, they have emerged as one of baseball’s best teams, but the Rockies swept two games at Oakland early in the season.

Los Angeles Dodgers (Sept. 17-20): 32-12 entering Thursday night’s game at Arizona, the Dodgers have dominated the Rockies in recent years, winning 24 of the last 30 games, including a 7-3 record at Coors Field last season.

On Deck
Angels RHP Griffin Canning
(0-3, 4.54 ERA) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (2-5, 4.58)
6:40 p.m. Friday, Coors Field
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 AM

Marquez’s stuff is still potent but his pitch command has been inconsistent, hence his 0-4 record and 6.00 ERA over his past six starts. The right-hander did not figure in Colorado’s 5-2 win at Los Angeles last Saturday when he set up the victory, throwing seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits. Marquez owns a 7.03 ERA at Coors Field, the result of two poor starts in a row there. In contrast, he has a 2.64 ERA on the road. Canning did not factor into the Angels’ 10-9 win over Oakland in the first game of a doubleheader last Saturday. He gave up four runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts over four innings. In his start before that game, Canning stuck out seven while giving up one run on four hits across eight innings vs. Seattle.

Trending: Designated hitter Matt Kemp is batting .314 (11-for-35) with one double, three home runs and nine RBIs over his last 12 games.

At issue: Rockies pitchers have a 7.24 ERA at home and have given up double-digit runs in 10 of their 43 games, including seven times at Coors Field.

Pitching Probables:
Saturday: Angels Jamie Barria (0-0, 3.38) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (2-1, 3.60), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Angels LHP Andrew Heaney (3-3, 4.40) at Rockies RHP Ryan Castellani (1-2, 5.34), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
Monday: Off