Story salutes Coors faithful on emotional day

Shortstop goes 4-for-4, scores 3 runs in Rockies' final home game of 2021

September 30th, 2021

DENVER -- The end of the Rockies’ home schedule started in 70-degree sunshine Wednesday afternoon, with shortstop basking in it.

Usually, veteran outfielder Charlie Blackmon strides onto the field first, but he let Story do it at the start of the eventual 10-5 victory over the Nationals. Blackmon let Story go first, then held his teammates back. Given that Story -- who went 4-for-4 in the game with a walk and scored three runs -- is going to be a free agent, Blackmon and the others let him take the field alone and have a few moments before emerging from the dugout themselves.

“I wasn’t aware -- it got me by surprise,” Story said during a postgame interview in which he did not let strong emotions overcome him. “‘Chuck’ got me good there.

“I should've known something was up. But that means a lot. I really appreciate that. These teammates are special. It means a lot that they did that, so a big, big thank you to those guys."

It turned into one long, wet, cold goodbye.

The feelings stayed warm, but the day was increasingly cold. The game was delayed in the third inning for two hours because of rain, and the temps fell into the 50s. The teams combining to use 13 pitchers contributed to a disjointed feel. But at the end, Story embraced fellow infielders Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers, and manager Bud Black didn’t let him escape without some extra hug time.

Blackmon, one of his big influences, was the person he held the longest.

“It kind of struck me that it could be the last time we are teammates at home,” Story said, his voice shaking. “I just wanted to spend a little extra time.”

After it was over, the Rockies adhered as best they could to a longstanding tradition of circling the field to appreciate the fans. Extended netting down the foul lines and the specter of COVID-19 protocols made things awkward. But after the team completed its rounds, Story went old school by re-emerging from the clubhouse with batting gloves and shoes to hand to those who endured.

Story hustled to the end, although he wasn’t rewarded. He was thrown out on a steal attempt -- one more gives him a third straight season of 20 homers and 20 steals -- at second while trying to stretch a single. Figuring how to improve the offense even though Story is likely gone will be the Rockies’ biggest task once the season ends, but some of those who figure to be part of it were key figures Wednesday.

McMahon, expected to grow his leadership role after this season, delivered a three-run first-inning homer, and Sam Hilliard, finding his way after a difficult season, added a two-run single. Blackmon reached thrice and scored twice. The Rockies’ 14-hit offensive showing exemplified a team whose 48-33 home performance was sixth-best in club history. After a horrid start, the Rockies are 54-51 since May 30 -- still in need of improvement.

Righty Peter Lambert, in his second start since his return from Tommy John surgery, started and threw 58 pitches, allowing five runs on eight hits and one walk in two innings. Wednesday’s performance meant less than what the Rockies hope it represents -- the beginning of a talented pitcher possibly working into a position to provide rotation depth. On that front, righty Ashton Goudeau struck out four in 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Unless the free agent market truly turns funky (the Rockies will extend Story the qualifying offer, but the likely result of that is they’ll protect their right to a compensatory Draft pick), the Rockies will have to feel Story’s influence from a distance.

If Wednesday was goodbye, Black felt Story exited the right way.

“The only thing he didn’t do was hit a homer or get a ball in the gap for a triple,” said Black, who witnessed Story homer in Wednesday night’s game. “But today was a game that we’ve seen from Trevor many times.”