The Colorado Rockies fell out of contention long before the calendar flipped to September, but that doesn't mean they aren't in the thick of the playoff race.
In fact, Colorado (70-80) has been playing a role in the postseason for three weeks, with 14 of their last 17 games coming against teams fighting for playoff spots. They have five more against the top two teams in the majors, including the second of three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles rallied from an early deficit to pull out the first game of the series, 5-4, on Tuesday. The Dodgers will send Walker Buehler (14-4, 2.39 ERA) against Rockies ace German Marquez (12-10, 4.16).
Los Angeles (97-54) has kept the heat on the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, and the division will likely be decided in the final weekend. Both teams have to go through Colorado, who has gone 7-7 against Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and the Dodgers since Sept. 2.
"This is a good week for our guys. This last road trip, playing the Phillies, playing the Braves, that was a test," Rockies manager Bud Black said Tuesday. "These series, again, going up against two teams we're all familiar with, they're familiar with us, we're familiar with them, so it comes down to good solid baseball. I want our guys to feel part of this race in some way, which we are. We impact it. The bigger thing for me is to play good sound baseball and keep getting better."
Marquez would like to derail Los Angeles on Wednesday night. His only start against them came on Opening Day, when he allowed one run but a high pitch count forced him out of the game after four innings. In 10 career starts against the Dodgers, he is 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA.
For the second straight game, Colorado is facing a tough starter in Buehler. He was the tough-luck loser against Cincinnati on Friday but he has proven to be a tough pitcher at Coors Field. In two starts in Denver this season, he is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA.
In 18 career games against the Rockies -- 14 of them starts -- he is 6-2 with a 3.88 ERA.
If Los Angeles is to overtake the Giants, it will have to be without 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers placed him on the injured list with a left rib fracture. Bellinger was hurt in an outfield collision with teammate Gavin Lux last week and hasn't played since Friday.
It has been a rough year for Bellinger. He is hitting just .159 with nine home runs and missed 46 games with a calf injury and a bum hamstring cost him seven more.
"It's not ideal," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before Tuesday's game. "But neither is being in too much pain to feel you can perform at a certain level. If that's the case and that's where we get to, we'll have to figure out how to make the most of it."
--Field Level Media
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