The Colorado Rockies spent all of September holding onto the NL wild-card lead, and on the first day of October they can clinch their second playoff spot in the past three seasons.
Colorado, though, has more than just the wild card in mind.
The Rockies will win the NL West with victories in their last four games, a push they’ll try to start Thursday afternoon as they go for a six-game season sweep of the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Colorado (90-68) grabbed the wild-card lead from San Francisco on Sept. 1 and hasn’t looked back. Atlanta pulled within two games earlier this week, but a pair of losses have left the Braves in desperation mode thanks to two Rockies wins.
Chris Iannetta(notes) hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning Tuesday night to lift Colorado to a 7-5 victory over Milwaukee (77-81), and the Rockies picked up where they left off Wednesday. Colorado scored five times in the first three innings and got homers from Carlos Gonzalez(notes), Todd Helton(notes) and Troy Tulowitzki(notes) in a 10-6 win that put it four games up on the Braves with four to play.
“Anytime you’re this close, you can smell it,” Tulowitzki said. “You want to get it done.”
While Atlanta has faltered the past two days, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been struggling even worse lately. The NL West leaders have dropped four in a row, meaning a Rockies win Thursday will allow manager Jim Tracy’s club the opportunity to win the division if it can complete a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium beginning Friday.
“Keep plowing - we’re not done with anything yet,” said Tracy, whose team is 72-40 since he took over.
Aaron Cook(notes) (10-6, 4.32 ERA) will try to help Colorado clinch at least the wild card on Thursday, and he’ll be looking for a second straight impressive outing upon returning from the disabled list. Cook, who missed five weeks with a right shoulder strain, came back Friday against St. Louis and tossed five shutout innings before leaving without a decision in a 2-1 win.
“I was stunned as to how sharp he was,” Tracy said. “You never know (what to expect) when you have a layoff like that.”
Cook is 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA in seven starts against Milwaukee over the past six years. Mike Cameron(notes) and Prince Fielder(notes) - who’s tied with Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard(notes) for the major league lead with 138 RBIs - are hitting a combined .091 against Cook in 22 at-bats.
The Brewers may be in position to offer some opposition as Manny Parra(notes) (11-10, 6.16) goes for a fourth straight victory. Parra’s latest start was his best, as he gave up two runs over seven innings Friday, striking out eight while beating Cliff Lee(notes) and Philadelphia 8-4.
Like Cook in his last outing, Parra was coming off a layoff as well. He left his Sept. 8 start after one inning with neck spasms, and hadn’t pitched since.
“I feel it actually refreshed me, if anything,” Parra said. “I really didn’t put too much pressure on myself.”
Parra hasn’t allowed a run against Colorado in three career innings of relief.
The Rockies have won eight of nine games against Milwaukee at Coors Field.