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DENVER (AP) — The scorecard in the archives of the Colorado Rockies‘ history stands like this: World Series appearances 1 Paul Molitor Jersey , NL West titles 0.No divisional crowns is a particular figure that All-Star shortstop Trevor Story and his teammates are keenly aware of and hope to remedy, especially with the Rockies climbing into a place they’ve rarely been this late in the season: All alone at the top of the NL West. The Rockies haven’t occupied first place this late in the year since 1995.Colorado began an off day Thursday with a 1 ½-game divisional lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers and 2 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rockies (77-62) start a pivotal stretch by hosting the Dodgers for three games starting Friday and then Arizona for four more.Buckle up. These last 23 games reckon to be quite a ride.“A division title would be huge, obviously, since we’ve never done that,” said Story, who crushed three homers Wednesday, including one that went a Coors Field-record 505 feet according to Statcast. “We’re very confident we can do it. We’re going for it.”The Rockies are a little bit of an anomaly among division-leading team. Consider this: The Rockies are a minus-8 in run differential. For comparison, the front-running Boston Red Sox are plus-223 in the AL East and the defending World Series champion Houston Astros a plus-235 in the AL West.Colorado doesn’t even have the best odds of making the postseason out of its division. According to ESPN, the Rockies have a 48.2 percent chance, while the Dodgers check in at 77.6 percent.“I still think we are the best team and I know when we are doing things right and playing the way we should,” said right-hander
Jobluejaysfanproshop.com/authentic-curtis-granderson-jersey , who pitches Friday as the Dodgers counter with ace Clayton Kershaw. “We are going to be where we need to be at the end of the season.”Fresh off a sweep of the Giants, the Rockies find themselves a season-best 15 games above .500. They trailed by eight games after play on June 28, but have since gone 39-20 — including 5-0 in September.“We’ve been playing these kinds of meaningful games for a long time now,” Story said.The last time Colorado was in sole possession of first at this juncture of the year was 1995. That happened to be the season the team moved into its new digs at Coors Field and was led by players such as Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga and Vinny Castilla, who’s currently the team’s special assistant to the general manager. They were leading until Sept. 27 when they lost to a Dodgers team that would go on to win the division by a game.Colorado earned a wild-card spot that season. Over the team’s history, they’ve appeared in the postseason four times — all as a wild-card. The Rockies rode a wave of momentum to the 2007 World Series, before being swept by Boston. Last season, they lost a one-game playoff to the Diamondbacks in their first playoff appearance since ’09.“There hasn’t been any rah-rah talk, no pep talks Justin Smoak Jersey ,” Gray said. “We know what needs to be done. Maybe that was needed last year. But not this time.”Story and Nolan Arenado are pacing the offense with NL MVP-caliber seasons. Story is hitting .298 with 31 homers, 95 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. He’s also playing Gold Glove-worthy shortstop. Despite a recent slump, Arenado is batting .297 with 31 homers and 93 RBIs. He’s going for his sixth straight Gold Glove at third base.The team added even more of a veteran presence by bringing in slugger Matt Holliday, who joins a lineup that includes second baseman DJ LeMahieu, outfielder Charlie Blackmon, converted first baseman Ian Desmond and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Younger players such as David Dahl and Ryan McMahon have been coming up clutch, too.On the pitching side, left-hander Kyle Freeland is among the leaders in ERA (2.96), while German Marquez is coming off back-to-back double-digit strikeout performances. The bullpen has been shaky at times this season, but Adam Ottavino has 100 strikeouts to go with a 1.96 ERA and closer Wade Davis leads the NL with 38 saves.After finishing their current 10-game homestand, the Rockies hit the road for nine straight. At 40-32 away from home bluejaysfanproshop.com/authentic-curtis-granderson-jersey , they’re one victory away from tying their mark for most wins on the road in a season (2009, ’17).“This team knows what needs to be done,” Gray said. “We are on the same page and we are feeling it happen.”Warning scamLOS ANGELES (AP) — The spring training finale showed just how much the Los Angeles Angels could miss slugger Justin Upton.The outfielder will begin the season on the injured list with a sore right big toe, manager Brad Ausmus announced Tuesday. Not long afterward, the Angels were held hitless for four innings by starter Julio Urias as the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a 9-2 victory.Ausmus said Upton has “turf toe” and no timetable has been determined for his return. Upton was injured in Sunday’s exhibition game against the Dodgers when he bumped into the left-field wall while chasing a flyball.The Dodgers used a seven-run second inning to take control. Cody Bellinger hit a three-run homer, his team-leading fourth of the spring, and Joc Pederson had a two-run double.Angels starter Patrick Sandoval, a replacement on the mound after Jaime Barrios was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake, gave up all seven second-inning runs on three hits and five walks. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings, throwing 43 pitches.The Dodgers finished the spring with a 14-15 record, while the Angels went 15-16.Urias Aaron Sanchez Jersey , expected to start the fifth game of the season against the San Francisco Giants on Monday, finished the spring with a 1.72 ERA over 15 2/3 innings. He pitched in just three regular-season games and seven postseason games last year after undergoing shoulder surgery in June 2017.“The fastball location was there today and had been missing the last two outings, so that’s something that makes me happy,” Urias said through a translator.Urias had four strikeouts and completed the spring with 15 strikeouts against three walks.“That’s impressive, to come back like that and throw that hard,” Angels slugger Mike Trout said. “I saw one pitch, but he was keeping everybody off balance. He looked good and when he dropped down he was 96 (mph), too, so he has good stuff.”Trout grounded out in his only plate appearance and finished the spring batting .292. Baseball’s new $426.5 million man said the Angels are going to have to bide their time until Upton returns.“It’s tough to lose a guy like that to start the season,” Trout said. “We have to overcome it and another guy has to step up. That’s it.”Upton had just returned after missing most of spring training because of right knee tendinitis.Ausmus said Peter Bourjos will likely see more playing time until Upton returns, but the manager is still waiting to solidify a plan moving forward.Upton bluejaysfanproshop.com/authentic-curtis-granderson-jersey , 31, hit 30 home runs with 85 RBIs in 145 games last season, his second with the Angels.NOTES: The Angels released left-hander Dan Jennings and will begin the season with all righties in their bullpen. . The Dodgers are still deciding on their final roster spot, which will be a member of the bullpen. Manager Dave Roberts said the last addition will have to have the ability to pitch multiple innings in an outing. . The Dodgers will use both Austin Barnes and Russell Martin at catcher, with Roberts saying Barnes will start four of the first seven games. . Despite being sent down by the Angels on Tuesday, Barria will be back “at some point soon,” Ausmus said. . AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani will move from hitting in the batting cage to taking batting practice outdoors as early as this week as the Angels’ star continues to progress from Tommy John surgery last year.UP NEXTThe Angels begin the season Thursday at Oakland with Trevor Cahill making his second career start in an opener and doing it against his former team. It will be his first start in Oakland as a visitor.The Dodgers open the season Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks with Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound, the first time since 2010 that Clayton Kershaw has not pitched the season opener.COTTSDALE Jake Marisnick Jersey , Ariz. (AP) — When the regular season begins, Ian Desmond will be the oldest center fielders in the majors at 33. He’s OK with that and so are his teammates on the Colorado Rockies.“He’s blessed,” Rockies left fielder David Dahl said Tuesday. “He’s a freak athlete. It’s a ‘getting better with age’ kind of thing. He’s a great athlete and takes care of his body and can run and in ’16, he was an All-Star there. We’re excited to have him out there.”For the first time this spring, the Rockies’ outfield was aligned the way it’s projected for the regular season with Desmond in center, Charlie Blackmon in right field and David Dahl in left on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.Desmond was an All-Star outfielder while with the Texas Rangers in 2016. He also was an All-Star shortstop in 2012 with the Washington Nationals. After playing primarily left field in 2017 and first base last year, Desmond will be in his third position in the last three years.“I’m excited for the challenge,” Desmond said. “I embrace the challenge of it. I’m glad they have confidence in me to do it.”“He’s motivated to play center Joe Jimenez Jersey ,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He sees himself as a middle of the diamond defender — this guy grew up a shortstop and he sees the game from the center of the diamond.”Desmond worked on his perspective on Sunday. After playing two days in a row this spring, he spent batting practice in center just watching balls off the bats to track them. It gave him a chance to not only rest his legs a little while working on his reads.Desmond’s arm hasn’t been tested this spring but Black is confident the veteran will do fine.“He has a powerful arm,” Black said. “When he was at shortstop, he was voted to have the best arm in the National League. He’s got a cannon.”Desmond had to deal with injuries in 2017 and was limited to 95 games. He played in 160 games last season and Black says they’ll keep an eye on him as well as Blackmon, 32, who is moving from center to right.“We think with Charlie, Ian, David scam tigersfanproshop.com/authentic-joe-jimenez-jersey , (Raimel) Tapia, (Noel) Cuevas, we feel we have a very solid defensive outfield,” Black said. “We’ll see. I’m extremely confident in Ian’s ability to play a very solid center field.”Dahl, 24, doesn’t doubt Desmond’s ability to handle the move.“I think Ian will be able to cover the ground in center and I’ll cover the ground in left and Charlie will do a good job in right so it’ll work out,” Dahl said.Desmond knows he’ll have to be conscientious regarding the altitude in Denver and staying healthy.“I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “I just have to make sure I’m in tip-top shape.”“You’re as young as you feel Alan Trammell Jersey ,” Black said. “With Ian, he’s running as well as he’s run the last number of years so physically he’s fine. He’s moving well and the range factor I think will be just fine.”NOTES: The Rockies play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday and Sunday. “The international part of MLB is growing,” Black said, noting there have been games in Japan, Australia and London. “I don’t know what the future holds but I’m thinking we’ll see more of this and someday maybe a team in Mexico.” The Rockies have yet to announce the travel squad but did say Blackmon, Cuevas and Tyler Anderson were among the players who will make the trip. NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees have acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for left-hander Phillip Diehl.The 28-year-old Tauchman made his major league debut in 2017 and hit just .153 in 59 at-bats in 52 career games with Colorado. Tauchman spent the majority of the 2018 season with Triple-A Albuquerque and hit .323 with 20 homers and 81 RBIs in 112 games.Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tauchman is an option to make the opening day roster.“Can play multiple positions out in the outfield tigersfanproshop.com/authentic-joe-jimenez-jersey ,” Boone said. “A guy that does have options, so we’ll kind of talk through it and see which way we want to go.”The 24-year-old Diehl, a 27th-round pick by the Yankees in 2016, attended spring training as a non-roster invitee and posted a 4.50 ERA with 17 strikeouts in nine relief appearances.“A lot of emotions going through my mind,” Diehl said. “Got another opportunity to potentially pitch in the big leagues with the Rockies and I’m looking forward to it.”To make room on the 40-man roster Saturday, the Yankees placed left-hander Jordan Montgomery on the 60-day injured list.New York also re-assigned left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr., outfielder Estevan Florial and right-hander David Hale to the minor league camp.
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