The Rockies won the National League’s second wild card. The Diamondbacks won the NL’s first wild card. And now they’re facing off in the NL Wild Card Game, and only one of the two teams can advance. This is showdown number 20 of the year between the two division rivals, and we have Zack Greinke on the mound for the D-Backs, with the visiting Rockies countering with Jon Gray.
Let’s wild card, y’all. If you want to read this in the order it happened in, scroll to the bottom and the “1st inning” header and start there.
Fernando Rodney time! He’s got a four-run lead, and he wasn’t that bad this season, really: Rodney had a 114 ERA+ and his adjusted ERA numbers were a whole lot better looking than the actual ERA figures that built that ERA+, so D-Backs’ fans have to be feeling like arrows are coming a few batters from now.
Then again, Rodney’s postseason career is... not so great. So he might need to start his redemption tour right here before anyone feels good about oh for the love of God you gave up a leadoff hit to Ian Desmond, Rodney?
Rodney rebounded by striking out Charlie Blackmon — baseball continues to never make sense — and the Rockies are down to their last two outs.
Hey, another strikeout, this time of DJ LeMahieu, and the Rockies are down to Carlos Gonzalez and their final out, in what very well be CarGo’s final at-bat with the Rockies. If it was Gonzalez’s final time up with the Rockies, he made it count, driving in a run to make it 11-8.
Now it’s up to Nolan Arenado. Rodney got out to an 0-2 count in a hurry, and then nearly threw a pitch over his catcher and to the backstop.
And that’s ballgame, as Rodney induces a groundout to second. The Rockies’ season is over, while the D-Backs have won the NL Wild Card Game and will advance to the NLDS to face the Dodgers.
Bradley is back out there with a three-run lead — he hit last inning not because Arizona expected a triple, but because Bradley is capable of holding a very tiny lead and there were already two outs. Thanks to his triple, the lead is much less tiny.
lol this is so good, Archie Bradley hits a triple after not ever having an extra-base hit, and then gives up a home run to Nolan Arenado after allowing just four of them all season long. Good thing he hit that triple, as it’s now 8-6.
...okay maybe remove Bradley from the game now, as he gave up another homer, this one to Trevor Story. 8-7, and Gerardo Parra is up with just the one out and Fernando Rodney’s inability to pitch more than one inning out of the bullpen casting a shadow on the eighth.
Credit where credit is due, the Rockies’ Twitter had this pegged.
Parra grounds out to Bradley, so he’s nearly out of this mess with the lead still intact. Well, a lead.
Despite giving up a double along the way, Bradley did manage to get out of things with a fly out by Lucroy. Fernando Rodney with a one-run lead isn’t the most comforting scenario around, but when Archie Bradley is hitting a triple and allowing homers, why are we even talking about expectations having meaning, anyway?
Carlos Estevez began the bottom of the inning for the Rockies, struck out Marte, walked Goldschmidt, and then was lifted for closer Greg Holland, who will now face J.D. Martinez. Holland dominated for much of the year, excepting a down August that inflated his ERA a bit, but he finished with a 139 ERA+ and struck out 11 per nine.
The Rockies nearly got out of the inning with a grounder to Story at short, but it wasn’t bang-bang enough to get more than the one out, so Holland has to face babyfaced Jake Lamb in a big spot. Lamb went deep 30 times in the regular season, but you’re forgiven if you didn’t notice since J.D. Martinez hit 29 with the D-Backs just in the two-plus months he played for them.
Lamb hits a bloop to center, and a wild pitch advances the runners to second and third. AJ Pollock took advantage, hitting a two-run triple to make it 10-7. That’s four triples on the day for the D-Backs, who also just picked up an intentional walk of Daniel Descalso to bring Mathis to the plate once more.
....Mathis laid down a two-out bunt that tripped up Greg Holland, literally, scoring a run and also notching a hit for Mathis, who moved Descalso to second in the process to boot. 11-7, Arizona.
Brandon Drury pinch-hit for Bradley, grounded out to end the inning, bringing us to the ninth and Colorado’s last three chances.
Jonathan Lucroy kicked things off with a double, then moved to third on a ball that got away from Jeff Mathis. It’s Ian Desmond up to try to drive him in, the same Desmond who had a horrific inaugural season with the Rockies that only looks good when compared to Jason Heyward’s first year with the Cubs.
He struck out on a ball up at his face, if you’re wondering why he was part of a double switch and not starting. That embarrassing moment for Desmond was the last one for Ray, who exits the game so [squints] not... Archie Bradley can pitch? What?
Yeah, yeah, Jorge De La Rosa is alright, I guess, but with a runner at third base, a need for two outs, and a two-run lead in the seventh inning of an elimination game where your team used your presume Game 1 starter in relief to maintain your lead, you would think the guy who ruined the opposition out of your pen would get the call.
Charlie Blackmon bunted to score the one run, but a nifty flip from Descalso at least got Blackmon at first to record the second out. And then Archie Bradley shows up, because when no one is on base the guy who struck out almost 10 per nine is going to be much more useful. 
The oddly timed Bradley usage is annoying me so much I’m not even going to do anything about Blackmon bunting despite being a great hitter outside of that initial passive-aggressive comment. The D-Backs got out of the inning without giving up another run, by the way.
Pat Neshek is continuing the Rockies’ problem of not being able to hit his spots, but despite a game of this, Colorado is only down by the one run. There are two runners on after a pitch left up to Lamb and a walk to Descalso, though, so here comes Bud Black to talk to his reliever. He’s not replacing him just yet, not with Jeff Mathis coming up to the plate.
I do not know why Jeff Mathis is hitting for himself, by the way — Arizona is carrying three catchers in this game. He ended up striking out, so it’s two down with the pitcher, Archie Bradley, here to try to drive in an insurance run for himself.
ahahaha holy shit Archie Bradley hit a two-run triple baseball is RIDICULOUS, 8-5 D-Backs
Obviously Pat Neshek was lifted from the game, and now Jake McGee is in trying to keep the D-Backs from pushing their lead to four. He succeeded with a ground out, and we’re on to the eighth after a ridiculous, nonsensical seventh.
Robbie Ray gave up a baserunner early, but a double play got him out of the inning before he even got to the potential trouble stage. After the fourth inning took forever and increased this live blog’s word count by a whole bunch, a quick half-inning like this is appreciated.
Wow why didn’t the Rockies just make the whole bullpen out of Rusin
As I type that awful joke [my wife’s voice is heard in my head, saying, “I thought jokes are supposed to be funny, Marc”], Rusin is lifted in a double-switch that gets Ian Desmond in the game at first base, and Pat Neshek comes in to pitch by replacing Mark Reynolds in the lineup. It’s a shame we won’t get Neshek against Greinke, as the former must still be mad about Greinke’s refusal to sign anything for him.
It all worked out, as the score is still 6-4, and Neshek got past the most dangerous parts of the D-Backs’ lineup in the process.
Robbie Ray! The D-Backs’ second-best starter, who seemed like the guy who would start against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS should they get there, takes over for Big Country Chafin in the fifth inning. Torey Lovullo isn’t thinking about the NLDS right now, though, not in any way besides his desire to get his team there, so here’s Ray in what is now a two-run game with five innings to go.
Want to read about Ray? Well, we wrote about him for just this situation.
Ray strikes out his first two opponents and gets the third to fly out, and it sure feels like he should stick in here for the duration unless he suddenly Jon Grays it up. If you’re going to use your presumed Game 1 starter before Game 1, use him.
Rusin was handling his side of the inning well enough, and then he walked Jeff Mathis. Jeff Mathis! In 2017! Luckily, it was with two outs, and Robbie Ray was on deck, so at least that’s the time to do it. On to the sixth inning we go!
Greinke has a six-run lead. Just so you know, Greinke didn’t lose in 2017 when he had at least six runs of support in general. That wasn’t a small group, either: there were 15 such games this summer, Greinke was 10-0 in them, and had a 3.25 ERA in those contests. He also has his best strikeout rate and K/BB in those starts, as maybe he feels like he has some room to challenge the opposition and begins to pound the strike zone more heavily.
By the way, these tendencies also match up with Greinke’s career, as he’s 85-4 with a better K/BB and strikeout rate in games with at least six runs scored for him. So, you’ve got that going for you, Rockies. Greinke is super confident now.
It doesn’t seem to be phasing the Rockies much, though. They just scored their first run thanks to a single by Gerardo Parra that brought Arenado home, and there are runners at the corners with Mark Reynolds up and only one out.
Trevor Story scores on an infield grounder where the lone play was at first, so it’s now 6-2. No one is hitting anything particularly hard off of Greinke, but all of a sudden the grounders are finding holes, and Greinke’s pitch count is 55 with a runner still in scoring position.
Apparently my analysis is just ruining Greinke from afar, as the next ball hit was hit hard by Jonathan Lucroy, and now it’s 6-3 D-Backs with Lucroy in scoring position. Alexi Amarista pinch-hits for the pitcher this time, so the Rockies will be making another move on the mound for the bottom of the frame.
Amarista hit a grounder to right field, and it was enough for Lucroy to make it home. Now it’s 6-4 Diamondbacks, and aren’t you glad I started this inning writing about how well Greinke did with six runs of support, Rockies’ fans? Greinke... is feeling different things.
Greinke just got lifted for reliever Andrew Chafin, so if you were thinking this game was over, well [lowers shades] that’s why they call it the wild card.
Chafin’s nickname is “Big Country,” which is great for a number of reasons, but mostly for this from my fellow SB Nation MLBer.
Big Country Chafin sounds like a problem you get after being on Farmers Only for too long— Whitney McIntosh (@WhitneyM02) October 5, 2017
AJ Pollock stopped the bleeding with a sliding catch, and we’re on to the bottom of the fourth with the D-Backs up by just two now.
Ketel Marte just hit his second triple of the game, and he’s hit one from each side of the plate. The second one came off of Chris Rusin, who is in the game because of Amarista pinch-hitting in the top half of the fourth.
Nolan Arenado is so good at defense, and every aspect of it. He knocks a hard-hit ball down at third, kept it in front of him, kept Marte at third with a look, and then threw Goldschmidt out at first. Runners at the corners now, with J.D. Martinez intentionally walked, so Jake Lamb has a shot at driving in a run or two with two down.
Every single Rockies player on the team seemingly went for that pop-up, but Lucroy inevitably called it and caught it to end the inning and the creeping threat of Marte.
Looks like Oberg might not pitch anymore than he has, with Raimel Tapia standing on deck in the pitcher’s spot. If there are two outs, though, the Rockies should probably just bat Oberg and let him pitch again instead of burning through someone who did so well on a night when they’re down 4-0 with seven innings left to pitch.
Greinke walks Jonathan Lucroy instead, which has the Rockies using Tapia to pinch-hit, so the previous paragraph now doesn’t matter. And hey, it’s worked out so far, with Tapia hitting a single that pushed Lucroy to third just in time for Charlie Blackmon to come to the plate.
Oh, geez, Blackmon, what are you doing? He goes after the first pitch, which was just what Greinke wanted him to do: it was outside, Blackmon poked it shallow to left for a fly out, and Lucroy couldn’t advance to make it a sac fly. Instead, it’s two down, and Blackmon helped keep Greinke’s pitch count down.
DJ LeMahieu grounds out to end the inning and the threat, keeping the Rockies scoreless. Lots of groundballs for Greinke already tonight, with five of them turning into outs on the ground.
To the bottom of the inning: With Oberg replaced for a pinch-hitter, it’s Tyler Anderson now on the mound for Colorado. Anderson didn’t have a great season and mostly spent it as a starter, but he also didn’t have a bad season — those Coors’ splits mean a 4.81 ERA isn’t as bad as your first glance makes you think — and the Rockies need some length here given it’s still just the third.
The results aren’t the same, but Tyler Anderson sure has watched Clayton Kershaw pitch before:
I am pleased a nat'l TV audience gets to see the Tyler Anderson mirroring Clayton Kershaw experience: pic.twitter.com/dG5Pj4afJA— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) October 5, 2017
Then again, Anderson just gave up a big hit in the playoffs, so maybe the results are like Kershaw’s.
Sorry I’m sorry I’m trying to delete it. And it’s 6-0 Arizona after a dinger by Daniel Descalso.
Greinke just made Nolan Arenado look silly with a wicked curveball that tricked the Rockies’ third baseman with both timing and location. Greinke might be good at pitching. He got through the rest of the frame with similar ease.
David Peralta picked up a hit against Gray in the bottom half, but might have tweaked his ankle while stepping on the corner of first base. He’s staying in the game, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Welp, Peralta’s ankle is probably fine, because he just scored going first-to-third on a triple by Ketel Marte. It’s a good thing Bud Black kept Scott Oberg warming in the pen. It’s 4-0 D-Backs, and a new pitcher comes on to face Paul Goldschmidt.
Hey, now I can use that joke from before:
You have nothing, Jon Gray lmao, update
Oberg handled Goldschmidt much better, striking out the first baseman instead of giving up a three-run homer. That’s the right play to run, Colorado, why didn’t you think of striking him out before?
J.D. Martinez is now up, fresh off of hitting 29 homers for the D-Backs after being dealt to the team in July. That’s a lot of dingers for just a few months. No such luck here, though, as Oberg also punched out Martinez, and stranded Marte at third base to keep the deficit at four runs.
Jeff Mathis is starting behind the plate for the D-Backs! Yes, that’s right, Jeff Mathis is still catching, and when healthy he’s been Zack Greinke’s personal catcher for Arizona. Also, if the Diamondbacks win here, Mathis will have more playoff wins since he left the Angels than the Angels have since getting rid of him. Baseball is funny.
Greinke rebounded this year with Mathis as his personal backstop/valet, so maybe Mike Scioscia knew what he was talking about.
I know, that doesn’t sound right to me, either.
If you’re wondering why Carlos Gonzalez is batting third for the Rockies in a win-or-go-home game when he had the worst full season of his career, it’s because he had a second half that looked a whole lot more like Carlos Gonzalez than the first half: CarGo batted .314/.390/.531 after the All-Star break, recovering a little in August and then posting a a 1250 OPS in September.
Here, though, he ended the top of the first with a groundout, so it’s on to the D-Backs’ first at-bat.
Jon Gray threw just 110 innings because he made all of 20 starts, but the 25-year-old was legitimately great and looked like the top pick the Rockies made him back in the 2013 draft. He also pitched very well at Coors Field despite it being, you know, Coors Field. Gray did struggle a little bit on the road, however, and oh wow before I even finished this thought Gray gave up two hits and then a three-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt. 3-0 D-Backs.
Luckily for Arizona we know it’s impossible to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning of a Wild Card Game. Sorry, Rockies, might as well get a head start on your offseason.
So that’s four hits for the Diamondbacks already, and Gray has already thrown 18 pitches while logging just one out. Another first inning with a mound visit in a Wild Card Game, and a reliever already warming, too, which is just what the Rockies were hoping for, obviously.
AJ Pollock makes it five hits on another breaking ball that did not break enough — four of the five hits in the first inning have come on those, and the last one was on an 0-2 count. Rockies’ manager Bud Black looks like he can’t wait for a reliever to be warm enough to come in and end this torture before any more runs score. Ron Darling notes that Gray is throwing lots of strikes, but that’s deceiving because they aren’t quality strikes, and are just down the middle of the plate.
Hey, Gray escaped further trouble, and before I could photoshop Bud Black’s face onto Ygritte and Jon Gray’s face onto Jon Snow’s to make a “You have nothing, Jon Gray” joke. For the best? No, definitely not.