Three years ago, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks met in the NL Wild Card game -- two teams on the rise to what they hoped would be sustained success.
Entering the final weekend of an unusual 2020 season, the teams are battling to stay out of the NL West basement.
While other teams jockey for the final playoff spot, the Rockies and Diamondbacks play out a disappointing truncated season. The teams play a doubleheader in Arizona on Friday to start a four-game series.
Antonio Senzatela will start the first game for Colorado (25-31) and face Zac Gallen. The Rockies are expected to send rookie right-hander Antonio Santos to the mound for the second game, and he will be opposed by Taylor Clarke of the Diamondbacks (22-34).
Colorado is coming off an 11-inning, 5-4 win over San Francisco on Wednesday to split its four-game series against the Giants.
Senzatela (5-2, 3.13 ERA) has been Colorado's best pitcher during an otherwise forgettable stretch for the team. While the Rockies have gone 13-26 since their hot start, Senzatela has solidified his spot in the rotation.
In his last two outings, he has beaten two division leaders -- the Oakland A's with a complete game and then the Los Angeles, when he allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings.
With Jon Gray done for the year and German Marquez struggling, Senzatela's outings have been a shot in the arm. Colorado has won six of his 11 starts, and he is 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in those games.
"I feel really good right now and I have confidence with my pitches in the zone," Senzatela said recently. "Every time, I'm putting it in my mind that every day is a new day."
The righty is 2-5 with a 6.02 ERA in 12 career games, eight starts, against the Diamondbacks. He is 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA in eight games, four starts, at Chase Field.
Gallen (2-2, 3.00) has pitched well in three career starts against Colorado, compiling a 2.65 ERA, but he has no record against the division rivals. He has allowed five earned runs and struck out 18 in 17 innings against the Rockies.
Clarke (2-0, 3.99) also has no record in three games, two starts, when he has pitched against Colorado, but he has struggled in those starts. He has an 8.22 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.
The 23-year-old Santos (0-0, 8.44) will be making just his third big league appearance and his first start. In 5 1/3 innings covering his two relief appearances, against the Giants and the San Diego Padres early this month, he allowed five runs on nine hits, with two walks and three strikeouts.
In 2019, Santo made 26 starts combined in Class-A and Double-A. He went 6-9 with a 4.53 ERA and struck out 140 batters in the 145 innings.
Gallen and Clarke are both in their second seasons in the majors and are getting a chance to show they belong in the majors. Arizona, which is coming off a two-game sweep of Texas, is going to miss the playoffs for the third straight season, but the young players are getting some opportunities.
One of those is third baseman Wyatt Mathisen, who hit two homers in Wednesday's 7-3 win over Texas. He is the second player in franchise history to have his first two career home runs come in the same game.
"It felt great, obviously," Mathisen said after Wednesday's win. "It's a dream come true to hit home runs in the big leagues. It was awesome."
--Field Level Media