DENVER -- After Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story powered consecutive seventh-inning home runs in the long-decided 12-0 victory over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon, a Coors Field sellout crowd of 47,833 delivered a soundtrack and a plea:"Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" the chant went, the hope within the words ringing in
DENVER -- After Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story powered consecutive seventh-inning home runs in the long-decided 12-0 victory over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon, a Coors Field sellout crowd of 47,833 delivered a soundtrack and a plea:
"Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" the chant went, the hope within the words ringing in the Rockies' ears as they head out for a Game 163 showdown today at Dodger Stadium (2 p.m. MT on ESPN).
• FAQ for today's NL West tiebreaker
Game 162 featured a Charlie Blackmon cycle -- the ninth in club history and 18th at Coors. Sunday also offered two Arenado homers, which put him in the National League lead with 37, and roundtrippers from Blackmon, David Dahl (for the sixth game in the past seven) and Story. But it didn't offer one answer:
Who is the NL West champion?
• Charlie Blackmon 1st to hit for cycle in Game 162
The Rockies, winners of nine of their past 10 games, will face Los Angeles today for the NL West crown, which the Dodgers have held for the past five years and the Rockies have never held in their 26-year history. The winner will host the Braves on Thursday in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, while the loser will get the second Wild Card and play on the road on Tuesday night.
"I wish we would've won the division a while ago, but that's not the case," Arenado said. "This is our reality, and it's awesome. It's just fun. We get to go there, hopefully win, and come back here. That's the goal. It's definitely something that we're all excited about."
At game's end Sunday, the Cubs and Brewers were tied atop the NL Central and will play a tiebreaker of their own at Wrigley Field today. The loser of that game will host Tuesday's NL Wild Card Game.
While the Dodgers were clubbing the Giants, 15-0, at San Francisco, the Rockies were slugging the Nationals -- and receiving stellar pitching from lefty Tyler Anderson in his return after being scratched Monday with left shoulder soreness.
Anderson went 7 2/3 scoreless innings and held the Nats to four hits, struck out five and walked three. The only scary moment came in the sixth, when trainers visited the mound after Anderson hit Victor Robles with a pitch because of pain in his back. But Anderson threw one test pitch, stayed in, kept dealing and pronounced himself fine postgame.
First baseman Ian Desmond said Anderson's ultra-competitive presence and performance were uplifting.
"Early mornings in Spring Training, he's working as hard as he possibly can, and it's beautiful," Desmond said. "That's why this game is so awesome: You always get another chance. He came out and did his thing."
The Nats declined to start 18-game-winning, 300-strikeout-man Max Scherzer, but the Rockies showed up to swing against whoever threw. The unlucky man was righty Erick Fedde (2-4), who yielded Blackmon's first-inning leadoff triple, retired two, then watched Arenado go deep for the second consecutive game. Arenado had gone 62 at-bats before homering off Stephen Strasburg during Saturday night's 12-2 loss.
"I'm glad we came out early and put up a couple of runs, big homer by Nolan in the first, and Tyler Anderson did a great job," Blackmon said.
Arenado's second homer came off Austin Voth, who also coughed up Story's 36th homer of the season (one behind Arenado) immediately following. In between, Blackmon launched his 29th homer, for two runs off Fedde in the third, and Dahl added a three-run shot off Tim Collins in the fifth.
HE SAID IT
"I try to run away into the clubhouse when they play that stupid song. I don't wanna hear it. Nobody wants to hear it. It's not just me. I think it's any team that goes into L.A. It's just like the Cubs, whenever they beat you at home, they have that song going on. It's tradition and as an opponent you don't want to lose there." -- Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez on "I Love L.A.," the Randy Newman song that blares at ear-splitting decibels when the Dodgers win at home, another incentive to win Monday's tiebreaker
Today, Colorado will travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers for the NL West title in Game 163. The Rockies are slated to start German Marquez, who is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts at Dodger Stadium this year -- going seven and eight innings while allowing one run and two hits in both. He has a 2.57 ERA in three starts this season against Los Angeles, which will counter with Walker Buehler. The game will be shown live on ESPN, with first pitch scheduled for 2:09 p.m. MT.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.