PHOENIX – The MLB Wild Card round will feature the Colorado Rockies facing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Wednesday night in Phoenix.
Here’s what you need to know for the game:
Time: 8:08 p.m. ET
Location: Chase Field — Phoenix, Arizona
Starting Pitchers: Jon Gray (10-4) vs. Zack Greinke (17-7)
TV Channel: TBS
Online Stream: Watch TBS Live
You can follow live Rockies-Diamondbacks score updates below:
A well-rested Carlos Gonzalez leads Rockies into postseason
Rest assured, Carlos Gonzalez is a different player since August.
Turns out, the Colorado Rockies ′ charismatic outfielder just needed a good night’s sleep.
Struggling at the plate early in the season, Gonzalez tossed and turned each night before finally visiting a sleep specialist about two months ago. Now, it’s his bat that’s awake as he and the Rockies are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2009. This is better than a dream, too, for the only holdover player from that ’09 squad.
“It’s just special,” said Gonzalez, whose team travels to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks in the NL wild-card game Wednesday. “I went through a lot of struggles, losing seasons, rebuilding seasons. I’ve seen so many good players leaving this house.
“But I always believed I was going to be able to stay here and celebrate with my teammates and the fans. They always show me love. That means everything for me.”
The player nicknamed Cargo was hitting .214 in mid-July as he tinkered with his swing. And the harder the lifetime .291 hitter worked, the more he seemed to struggle.
And the more he struggled, the worse his sleeping habits became.
The pattern was similar each night — get home from a game, think about it, watch movies or TV until around 3 a.m. and fitfully fall asleep only to wake up exhausted.
A touch of insomnia is something that’s plagued him for years in large part because of all the travel. Last season, Gonzalez said he sometimes relied on sleeping pills to nod off.
“But I didn’t feel like they were helping me, because the next day I felt bad,” said Gonzalez, who boosted his average to .262 this season with a strong finish. “I was trying to stay away from those, but still not sleeping.
“Finally, I talked to my agent, talked to a lot of people, to figure out how we’re going to attack the problem. In August, that’s when I started talking to this doctor about doing the right thing to get to sleep.”
Mostly, it was some relaxation recommendations — keeping his room cool and dark, having his phone well out of reach and no movies after games. That’s helped him get a solid seven hours of sleep each night.
In addition, he also adjusted his grip on the bat. That, combined with slumber, has paid dividends, with Gonzalez hitting .325 over August and September with eight of his 14 homers.
“It’s not like we’re re-inventing something or trying to change my swing,” said Gonzalez, who turns 32 on Oct. 17. “I was trying to stay calm, lower my hands, not over-swing. I was trying to put a good swing to the ball. Stay in the zone.”
To a player, the Rockies were elated to get Gonzalez back into the postseason . It’s been eight years since he last popped the cork on a celebration in the clubhouse. In between, there have been plenty of highs such as winning three Gold Gloves, becoming the NL batting champ in 2010, making three All-Star squads and hitting a career-high 40 homers in 2015.
Of course, there have been lows: The finger/knee injuries that limited him to 70 games in 2014, a string of below .500 team records and the early struggles this season when he couldn’t buy a hit.
Last offseason, there was speculation that he might be traded, given that his contract runs out at the end of this season. But he’s long been the life of the party, the galvanizing presence, and Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich didn’t want to mess with clubhouse chemistry.
“There were so many rumors, ‘We’re going to trade him here or trade him there, we’re going to do this or that,’ but none of them were true. Ever,” Bridich said.
“This is the reason why right here,” Bridich added as he was soaked with bubbly after the Rockies clinched a wild-card spot Saturday. “We felt like he was going to be part of a special group that was going to bring us back to the postseason.”
This is how much Gonzalez’s teammates respect him: “Even if he struggles, he’s still the man of the team,” friend and fellow outfielder Gerardo Parra recently said. “We need this guy.”
Now that Gonzalez and the Rockies have reawakened, don’t sleep on them in the postseason, he insisted.
“All we were asking for is a chance,” Gonzalez said. “Now, everything is clicking.”
Martinez a magnificent mid-season addition in Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers on July 18 for three minor leaguers.
It might go down as one of the best mid-season acquisitions in baseball history.
Martinez has had a thunderous last half to the season, and it only picked up steam down the stretch.
“I’ve never seen anything like what he’s done the last month,” Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock said. “Yeah, we kind of keep looking, ‘Where would we be without J.D.?’”
In 62 games with the Diamondbacks, Martinez hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs, and he has fit in perfectly with the team’s “family” culture nurtured by first-year manager Torey Lovullo.
“It’s been a great couple of months,” Martinez said.
The last month has been spectacular.
In September, Martinez hit .404 (40-for-99) with 16 home runs (tying a National League record), eight doubles, 36 RBIs and 24 runs scored in 24 games.
“It’s a good run I’m on,” he said. “I just want to keep it up and continue in the playoffs.”
Martinez and the Diamondbacks host the NL wild-card game against Colorado on Wednesday night.
“It’s cool, it’s a great feeling,” he said of what he’s done in Arizona so far, “but the job’s not done yet. We’ve got one game we’ve got to get in and we’ve got to keep it going.”
Catcher Chris Iannetta said the key to Martinez’s success is the work he does.
“I think no one hits more than him, no one watches more video and studies his own swing, studies opposing pitchers,” Iannetta said.
Lovullo said Martinez’s production at the plate is the result of all that effort.
“The thing that people don’t see is what he does behind the scenes,” the manager said. “There’s notes in a notebook. There’s video and studying. There’s tendencies and habits. There’s constant practice and perfection of the swing. And it translates.”
Combined with his time in Detroit, Martinez hit .303 with a career-high 45 home runs.
“I get a chance to sit next to him or stand next to him before he’s going in the on-deck circle, and it’s the same routine,” Lovullo said. “He does it with his eyes open. He does it with his eyes closed. I know there is a lot of muscle memory that he has perfected. So when he walks up to home plate, it’s just put things in automatic and let it happen.”
Martinez’s September included a fabulous night in Dodger Stadium, when he became the 18th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game.
“He’s been a huge part of this team, helped us get where we are,” pitcher Patrick Corbin said. “… It feels like he’s going to homer every time at the plate.”
The Tigers got Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King in exchange for Martinez, certainly a bargain for arguably the best position player on the market before the trade deadline. And he was just what Arizona needed, a corner outfielder who could bat behind Paul Goldschmidt in the heart of the Diamondbacks lineup.
“I was disappointed leaving Detroit because that was obviously my home for so many years,” Martinez said, “but at the same time I was excited to be joining a playoff-caliber team.”
Almost immediately, he fit right into the Diamondbacks tight clubhouse.
Martinez is, Lovullo said, “a tremendous teammate and a part of this family we developed here.”
“He came here mid-season,” the manager said, “and it’s hard for players to walk into that environment. He immersed himself into this culture and he’s become one of us.”
A free agent at the end of this season, Martinez has said he’d like to stay with the Diamondbacks. But with every power surge at the plate, his value rises.
The cost of keeping him might well be too steep for a franchise that has one of the lower payrolls in baseball at under $100 million.
So if the Diamondbacks lose the wild-card game to the Rockies, it could well be Martinez’s final game in an Arizona uniform.
“I hadn’t even thought of that,” he said.
Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.