CarGo gone? Rockies, Gonzalez look to avoid NLDS elimination
MILWAUKEE — The thin mountain air in Denver might do wonders for the slumping Colorado Rockies.
They’re going home again, down 2-0 in the NL Division Series to the Milwaukee Brewers. Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Sunday at Coors Field.
“I don’t have a doubt that we’re going to get things going,” Rockies veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said.
If not, Gonzalez could be gone.
The one-year, $5 million deal he signed last offseason to return to Colorado expires at the end of the year. After 11 seasons playing on Blake Street, the three-time Gold Glove winner and 2010 NL batting champion is about as synonymous with Colorado as dry air and beer.
He’s a lifetime .323 hitter at Coors Field, 72 points higher than his career road average. He knows how much of a difference playing at home can make for hitters.
Playing in front of a friendly crowd might have help the team relax after a frustrating Friday night of breaking bats and slamming batting gloves into helmets.
The Rockies finished among the major league leaders in several offensive categories this year. But they’ve scored just six runs in four games since slugging five homers in a 12-0 victory over Washington on Sunday that left them tied for the NL West lead after 162 games.
“When you’re down and you have some opportunities in front of you and you don’t get it done, you’re going to have some emotions you don’t see in the regular season. The season is on the line,” Gonzalez said.
The Rockies will send right-hander German Marquez (14-11, 3.77 ERA) to the mound in Game 3 against Milwaukee’s Wade Miley (5-2, 2.57).
“I think playing at home can get us going,” skipper Bud Black said.
The punch is missing up and down the lineup.
Colorado’s three All-Stars — center fielder Charlie Blackmon, third baseman Nolan Arenado and shortstop Trevor Story are a combined 3 for 23 in the series with two RBIs — both in the ninth inning of Game 1, which the Rockies lost 3-2 in 10 innings.
Take away that rally and it’s a series shutout for Milwaukee. Colorado stranded nine runners in Game 2.
Story’s struggles might be the most puzzling. He had seven homers and 18 RBIs against Milwaukee in the regular season.
“I think for me personally, it’s swinging at bad pitches, chasing a little bit,” he said. “It’s tough to pinpoint actually, but we’re going home, where we feel really good hitting. Hopefully, we can get it turned around there.”
Gonzalez’s problems at the plate extend into the last month of the regular season. He hit .200 in 20 games in September and October with one homer and eight RBIs.
Still, he was back in the cleanup position in Game 2, two spots up from the opener. He tripled in the first game, but ended up getting stranded.
“When things are bad, even when you put a good swing to the ball … and some other guys hit the ball hard and they don’t find holes, it’s a little frustrating,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve just got to continue to work.”