Rockies in Wild Card Game after Brewers' loss

Rockies in Wild Card Game after Brewers' loss

DENVER -- Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez participated in two wild celebrations Saturday at Coors Field -- one after the Brewers' loss gave them the second National League Wild Card before they took the field and a wilder one after the oh-by-the-way 5-3 loss to the Dodgers -- but he'll cherish the quiet time in between.

• Dress for October: Get Rockies postseason gear

Gonzalez homered off the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw in his first at-bat and was pulled from the game in the sixth after going 2-for-3. Being the only player left from 2009, the team's last postseason trip, and dealing with the possible emotions of being in the last year of his contract, Gonzalez stole away to a clubhouse that had been prepped for the mess, with plastic tarp protecting the lockers.

"I came up here to change, then I saw all this around," Gonzalez said. "It took me back to '09. It was so special. I was just recording myself, being here by myself, soaking it in.

"Everybody was playing. I was just here smiling by myself."

The Rockies will meet the D-backs at Chase Field on Wednesday at 6:08 p.m. MT in the NL Wild Card Game on TBS, for the right to face the Dodgers in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile starting Friday in Los Angeles.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado, who earned a championship with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March but now has his eyes on the Fall Classic, let go a little before the game. He was captured in a now-viral photograph, in midair with his arms spread. The joy was more unbridled as he dripped with bubbly and brew after the loss to the Dodgers.

"When we won the WBC, I wore goggles," Arenado said, alluding to protecting his eyes from the spray. "I'm not wearing goggles with the Rockies. I wanted to feel the burn.

"I really need to celebrate. That's what I'm doing with my boys today."

Arenado on clinching Wild Card

Before and during the game, the Rockies were able to share their bright mood with the 14th sellout crowd of the season. Areando and center fielder Charlie Blackmon, the club's other NL Most Valuable Player candidate -- and the all-but-certain NL batting champ with a .330 average -- were among the players who received ovations at first sight.

"We're just asking for a chance, and we snuck in there just under the wire," Blackmon said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Even before the game, catchers Jonathan Lucroy, who was obtained from the Rangers before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and Tony Wolters took to Twitter.

It's the fourth postseason trip in the Rockies' 25 seasons -- all as Wild Cards. Lefty pitcher Kyle Freeland, a Denver native born after May 14, 1993 -- a little more than a month after the team's inaugural game -- tweeted his pride.

This postseason club is a creation of general manager Jeff Bridich, who took over after the 2014 season, and first-year manager Bud Black.

Fittingly, pitching was a key. Bridich, formerly head of the player development system, emphasized pitching at the top of the Draft and through trades. Bridich also obtained playoff-tested vets such as closer Greg Holland and multi-position player Ian Desmond during the winter, and Lucroy and right-handed reliever Pat Neshek during the season.

How They Got There: Rockies

"There's a benefit of being around the organization for a long period of time, understanding the type of people that we have here, people that want the same goal and are willing to put in the time and the effort, and believing in each other," Bridich said. "Not all of our issues were solved internally. We had to take some risks, take some chances, and get people to believe in those things as well."

Black, who managed the Padres from 2007-15, is a former pitcher (he earned a World Series ring with the '85 Royals) and pitching coach (another title with the 2002 Angels) who fit with the organization's pitching emphasis, plus a little more.

"What can I say about the contributions of everybody? It's not just one group," Black said.

Black on reaching postseason

The Rockies also received congratulatory tweets from the National Football League's Denver Broncos:

And Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids:

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.