DENVER -- The bats that disappeared on the road during the week didn't turn up at Coors Field on a chilly Sunday afternoon, either. And a promising Rockies season is over.
The Rockies managed few chances and were shut out for the second straight game as the Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the National League Division Series, 6-0, before a sellout crowd of 49,658.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
It was just the third shutout of the Rockies at Coors Field this season, supplying an ending befitting a punchless week. In a 5-2 NL West tiebreaking loss to the Dodgers last Monday, a 2-1 win over the Cubs in 13 innings in the NL Wild Card Game and three games against the Brewers -- who head to the NL Championship Series on an 11-game win streak -- the Rockies scored a total of six runs.
While the Rockies can celebrate 2018 as the first time the team made postseason trips in consecutive years -- they played in the NL Wild Card Game last year -- the quick exit means there is work to do.
"They [the Brewers] pitched really well," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "They've got good arms. I think there was a little bit of pressing going on all week. These were games that were high intensity and a lot on the line. You know, the Dodger game, the Cubs game, these three playoff games. I think there were some guys trying a little bit too hard, which is a natural occurrence."
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Starting pitching has been a priority, and it accounted for itself well. German Marquez gave up two runs -- one on Jesus Aguilar's Statcast-measured 418-foot homer in the fourth -- on seven hits with five strikeouts before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth. Counting lefty Kyle Freeland's 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the NL Wild Card Game, Rockies starters managed a 1.99 ERA in four postseason games.
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But with the season on the line, the Rockies managed four hits -- and made dubious history. In their 26-season history, they had never been blanked in consecutive games when one of them was played at Coors.
Headliner Nolan Arenado went 0-for-4 -- with a befuddled strikeout against Joakim Soria in the sixth encapsulating his day and a 2-for-11 series.
"You gotta give credit to the Brewers, also," Arenado said. "Good pitching. Other than that, we just didn't have good at-bats. Sometimes you go through stretches where you just can't get anything going. Early in the year, we had that, where our pitchers were pitching really well, and our offense couldn't get going. It was like that, just at the wrong time."
Leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, who managed a couple of well-struck balls, was 0-for-4 on Sunday and 1-for-12 for the series. Trevor Story, who joined Blackmon and Arenado at the All-Star Game, managed two hits, with a double, in Game 3 after going 0-for-8 in Games 1 and 2. DJ LeMahieu, eligible for free agency, doubled on a 1-for-3 day, but he was 2-for-9 in the series.
Blackmon, who has dealt with the Rockies' at times extreme peaks and valleys (and is signed through 2021), said performance in big at-bats is an area for improvement.
"It's one thing to play a six-month season and be a good player; it's another thing to have to get the hit right now or you lose and you go home," Blackmon said. "It's a little different mentality when you play that one-game playoff or you make it to the Division Series and every game is so important.
"We need to bring that into the regular season, and make those leveraged at-bats really count."
It was supposed to change when the Rockies left the road. They put two on base in the second, on Story's leadoff single and Carlos Gonzalez's one-out walk against Brewers starter Wade Miley. However, Ian Desmond flied to left and Tony Wolters grounded out. And it certainly didn't help the offense when the vaunted Brewers bullpen took over -- with Corey Knebel's strikeout of Blackmon to end the fifth.
Sunday's defeat left the crowd and the players disappointed, but veteran first baseman Desmond noted that a setback day can't erase the forward step the team took.
"We grinded as a collective group better, and ultimately we made it one step further," Desmond said. "There are a lot of guys in this locker room who are 2-for-2 in postseason appearances. That is not the ultimate goal. That's to win the World Series. But it's not a bad thing for guys to know that we're good enough to make it to the postseason."
Marquez made his start at 23 years and 227 days of age. The only younger Rockies pitcher to make a postseason start was lefty Franklin Morales, who was 21 in 2007 when he started a game apiece in the NLDS and the NLCS.
"That's my approach every time I go out, give the team a chance to win and keeping the game close," Marquez said in Spanish, with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating. "That's what I did tonight. Unfortunately, we came up short.
"You've got to tip your cap to the Brewers' pitching staff. Our offense is really good, and they shut us down. That happens."
WAS THIS GOODBYE?
In the first inning, LeMahieu ranged to his left to grab Travis Shaw's grounder, took a spin toward the outfield and fired to second for an out on a play that drove in the Brewers' first run. Such plays from LeMahieu, a two-time All-Star and two-time Rawlings NL Gold Glove Award winner, became common after he arrived from the Cubs -- chiefly for infielder Ian Stewart -- after the 2011 season.
LeMahieu, who added the double and a walk to his day, said the idea that his time in purple pinstripes could be over hit him emotionally.
"It's been an unbelievable experience, just couldn't be more thankful for being a Rockie, for my time since I've been called up," LeMahieu said. "It's easy to do with the group we have. Such an unselfish group.
"The fact that we were eight games out in June, and everyone was getting questions about what's going to happen if everyone gets traded -- to end where we did, it was pretty cool how we played the second half."
LeMahieu isn't the only one facing free agency.
Gonzalez was a free agent last year, but he re-signed during Spring Training. Now he faces free agency again.
"This is a place that I know over the years, and I feel really proud of every single opportunity I've had in this organization, and we'll see what happens in the end."
Additionally, righty reliever Adam Ottavino will be a first-time free agent, and Matthew Holliday will be free, also. The Rockies have a club option on outfielder Gerardo Parra, at $12 million for 2019 or a $1.5 million buyout; they're unlikely to pick up the option but could negotiate a new deal.
HE SAID IT
"This has been a big learning experience. I think I had a solid year. I think the way people approach me and talk to me, it feels like it's been a down year. I guess the bad games I've had, they've been in crucial situations. That part hurts. But I played in 150 games -- that's my goal every year. I drove in 100. I'm very thankful for the year I had. It's hard to sit here and complain about the year I had. I wish I was better in certain situations, and I wish I was better here in October, but that's the part of the game you learn." -- Arenado