Thirty years ago, the Colorado Rockies were an expansion team destined for a 95-loss season and the Atlanta Braves were a perennial contender.
Things look much the same in 2023 as they did in 1993.
The Rockies have the worst record in the National League while Atlanta has the best in baseball and is headed for its sixth straight NL East title.
The opposites will meet for a three-game series in Denver starting Monday night. The Braves will send Bryce Elder (10-4, 3.39 ERA) against lefty Austin Gomber (9-9, 5.48) in the opener.
Atlanta is dealing with somewhat pleasant drama heading into the final weeks of the season. The Braves are trying to hold off the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the NL and the home-field advantage in the league playoffs, and Ronald Acuna Jr. is battling for the MVP.
Acuna has been the favorite for most of the season, but Mookie Betts, Matt Olson and Freddie Freeman have made a case, too. Betts and Freeman — the latter a former teammate of Acuna — play for Los Angeles while Olson bats cleanup for Atlanta.
“Everyone is doing something special in different ways, and it’s a shame that it’s all coming from the National League and two teams, when all of them are pretty much deserving of MVP,” Braves reliever A.J. Minter said.
Olson and Acuna can pad their stats at hitter-friendly Coors Field this week and help Atlanta, which had its four-game losing streak snapped with an 8-5 loss at San Francisco on Sunday night, pile up more wins.
Elder gets things going in his first appearance in Denver and his second career start against the Rockies. In his only outing against them, he allowed one run on four hits in six innings to get the win on June 17.
Colorado is coming off a 1-5 road trip against the Rays and Orioles, but its 4-3 win in Baltimore on Sunday made for a happy flight home. It was also the debut of Hunter Goodman, who was recalled Sunday morning and started at first base.
He had two hits, an RBI and scored what proved to be the winning run in the ninth inning with his parents and fiancée looking on. His diving catch at first base accounted for the game’s final out.
“I told him when he came in, ‘There’s no day like your first day, you’ll remember this one,'” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Goodman. “To get your first hit, to score the go-ahead run and to make a diving play on a bullet to the game, there was a lot in there.”
Goodman’s debut came at the expense of Jurickson Profar, who was released to make room for the rookie on the roster. He is the latest veteran player Colorado has released or traded as it moves to a younger lineup.
That has made Gomber one of the elder statesmen on the team despite being just 29. He has made a team-high 26 starts this year and is 5-2 with a 3.50 ERA since June 25.
He has faced the Braves five times — two of those starts — and is 1-1 with a 7.94 ERA in his career.
–Field Level Media