The Rockies’ Five Most Memorable Games
October 1, 2007: Rocktoberfest!
After storming through the last half of September to get into postseason contention, the Rockies hit the national spotlight with a thrilling 9-8, 13-inning win over San Diego in a regular season playoff to determine the National League’s wild card entrant. It was a gem of a game where the momentum changed hands from start to finish, where both big plays and controversy reigned throughout.
The Rockies took an early 3-0 lead off NY Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, but saw it erased in the third when the Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez belted a grand slam off Rockie starter Josh Fogg to cap a five-run inning. Colorado chiseled away and retook the lead in the sixth, and thought they added insurance when Garrett Atkins’ apparent home run was ruled a double by umpires a year before video reviews of home runs were allowed.
Colorado was four outs away from victory, but an eighth-inning fly ball by the Padres’ Brian Giles was misplayed by Matt Holliday and turned into a game-tying double that brought on extra innings. After numerous rallies were foiled by both sides, Scott Hairston launched a two-run shot in the 13th that gave the Padres the lead—and sent Trevor Hoffman, then baseball’s all-time saves leader, into the game with a chance to close it out. Blessed for the Rockies, Hoffman picked a rotten time to suffer a rare meltdown; Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki started the frame with back-to-back doubles, and Holliday—atoning for his earlier defensive lapse—tripled off the wall to tie the game back up. Two batters later, Jamey Carroll hit a fly ball that was caught, and home came Holliday—crashing his chin head first to the side of home plate just ahead of the throw (replays showed inconclusively whether Holliday actually touched the plate with his hand), winning the game and sending the SRO crowd at Coors Field into absolute delirium, as a chin-bloodied Holliday was picked up and pounced on in celebration by joyous teammates.
October 15, 2007: Sweeping Away the Snakes
After the big win against the Padres and a shocking NLDS sweep of star-studded Philadelphia, the Rockies continued their unstoppable momentum in the NLCS and finished off a four-game sweep of Arizona, the team they finished second to in the NL West.
Back at Coors Field, the Diamondbacks broke the ice on a third-inning run off Colorado starter Franklin Morales, who otherwise was sharp early on; that’s why many eyebrows were raised when, during a Rockie rally in the bottom of the fourth, manager Clint Hurdle decided to lift Morales for a pinch-hitter with two outs and two on. The gamble paid major dividends; pinch-hitter Seth Smith doubled, sending in the first two of six runs that would cross the plate and thrust the Rockies into big-time control.
But even with the humidor, no lead at Coors Field is considered safe—and the Diamondbacks’ offense, stifled for seven innings, finally awoke in the eighth. Brian Fuentes, who lost his closer job in midseason, gave up three runs on a Chris Snyder homer and, after Justin Upton followed it up with a triple, he was replaced by Manny Corpas, who was in charge of earning the four-out save. Corpas did it, but not without some suspense; Chris Young doubled with one out in the ninth, and Eric Byrnes’ hustling attempt for an infield single with two outs ended with a slide and an out call from first base umpire Angel Hernandez, ending the game and securing the first-ever NL pennant for the Rockies, who had now won 21 of their last 22 games and became only the second team (after the 1976 Cincinnati Reds) to win seven straight games to start a postseason. An eight-day layoff between this game and the start of the World Series would cool off the Rockies’ white-hot momentum and lead to a four-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox, bringing a cold end to an otherwise fantastic fairy tale.
May 19, 1999: A Slugfest Among Slugfests
In the craziest game during the craziest year at Coors Field—when the air didn’t just seem to be thin, it didn’t seem to be there at all—the Rockies were pummeled by the Reds in a record-setting 24-12 game, helping to substantially raise the Rockies’ team ERA at home; they would finish the 1999 campaign allowing 7.11 earned runs per nine innings at Coors.
The Rockies hung with Cincinnati through the first three innings, tying the game at 7-7; then the Reds pulled away, out of sight and almost out of body; they picked up four runs in the fourth, two in the fifth, five in the sixth and six more in the seventh. They placed four more baserunners on over the final two innings put failed to add to the score. All told, there were 43 hits between both teams—28 by the Reds, who also were given nine walks—11 doubles, ten home runs and a major league record 81 total bases. Seven Reds had at least three hits, and Jeffrey Hammonds collected three homers in an inspiring display that encouraged the Rockies to sign him a year later; by strange contrast, three of the Reds’ four pitchers on the night—starter Danny Neagle and relievers Gabe White and Ron Villone—would find themselves in Colorado uniforms within the next two years. Sean Casey, who reached base all seven times he appeared for the Reds, said afterward, “That was like a summer league softball game…and we won the keg.” A keg filled with Coors, no doubt.
October 1, 1995: Ahead of Schedule
In just their third year of existence, the Rockies clinched their first postseason reservation on the season’s final day by outlasting the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field, 10-9. The game started out like any ordinary contest at Coors, with both teams scoring early and often; the Rockies found the Giants’ call-up starter Joe Rosselli, making his last of five career starts, no problem—shelling him for six runs and chasing him from the game before the third inning was done. But Colorado starter Bret Saberhagen, a two-time Cy Young Award winner by contrast, was no better; in fact, he was worse, allowing eight runs (six earned) before himself being removed in the third.
Trailing 8-6 in the fifth, the Rockies struck gold when the first four batters reached—and they all scored off Giant starter Al Leiter, making his only relief appearance of the season. Meanwhile, the Rockies’ bullpen clamped down on Giant hitters, allowing a run on six hits over seven innings to help preserve the Colorado comeback; it didn’t hurt that the Giants, out of contention and packing it in on the final day of the season, removed superstar Barry Bonds out of the game midway through to weaken any hopes of a late San Francisco uprising.
April 26, 1995: A Debut to Remember
The first game of that memorable 1995 season was just as satisfying—and more exciting—for Rockies fans helping to christen in Coors Field. In sharp contrast to the ennui and/or anger aimed at the game in near-empty ballparks elsewhere in the wake of the brutal 1994-95 players’ strike, the atmosphere at the corner of Blake and 20th Streets was upbeat as a packed house welcomed the Rockies into their own home for the first time.
The Rockies got it rolling quick with two runs in the first inning off New York Mets starter Bobby Jones; by the end of the fifth, the lead had been built to 5-1, but Rockies starter Bill Swift—making his Colorado debut after several outstanding years with the Giants—wilted in the sixth when Todd Hundley launched a grand slam to tie the game. It became a seesaw affair from that moment on, and the Rockies were only able to send it into extra innings when Larry Walker doubled with two outs in the ninth to bring home Walt Weiss, who had earlier walked. The teams exchanged runs in the 13th to extend the proceedings, and the Mets one-upped the Rockies again in top of the 14th—only to be denied once more a half-frame later, when Dante Bichette hit the team’s first-ever homer at their new grounds with two on and clinched a four hour, 49-minute 11-9 victory with a three-run shot.
Colorado Rockies Team History A decade-by-decade history of the Rockies, the ballparks they’ve played in, and the four people who are on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore.
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The Rockies’ Five Greatest Pitchers A list of the five greatest pitchers based on their productivity and efficiency.