Rockies 11-game winning streak has city thinking playoffs

Updated: September 28, 2007, 8:45 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- All of the sudden the Colorado Rockies are Denver's team.

They've bumped the Broncos down a notch, at least for this weekend while the Rockies try to complete an improbable push into the playoffs.

Fans began lining up early Friday for tickets to the Arizona-Colorado series, one of the most important in the Rockies' short history.

Two weeks ago the Rockies seemed like a long-shot to make the playoffs. The stadium was rarely selling out and the buzz was all about the Broncos.

But an 11-game winning streak, a tight race in the NL West and a wild card playoff berth on the line has Denver fans thinking about the postseason for the first time since 1995. Colorado even has a slim shot at winning the division.

"There's a lot of people talking about it, that's for sure," season-ticket holder Jerry Cusick said. "My friends and everybody really has Rockies fever. Even late last night, we were up until midnight watching the game."

Even the Broncos have caught Rockies fever -- wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Domenik Hixon sported new Rockies caps in the locker room Friday.

The Rockies have made the postseason just once, in 1995, when Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker and Vinny Castilla were hitting homers out of Coors Field. Kevin Ritz was the only pitcher who won more than 10 games that year and the team was last in the league in ERA.

This year, however, the Rockies are getting contributions from everyone. Matt Holliday is an MVP candidate. The pitching, which has seen a number of starters sidelined with injuries, has been injected with life thanks to rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. And Rockies icon Todd Helton has had yet another productive season.

"It's much different now than in '95," fan Scot Minshall said. "Back then, it was more about just going to the game. Coors Field was the place to be. It's much sweeter this time, because it's been 10 years of, at times, really bad baseball. For us, it's definitely sweeter the second time around."

Minshall, general manager of Jackson's, a sports bar a few steps from the Coors Field entrance behind home plate, said the Rockies' end-of-season streak has been good for business.

"I'm thrilled the bandwagon is pulling up to my front door," Minshall said. "But I completely understand where Denver fans are coming from. The fans haven't had much to cheer about in several years, so I get it."

Even the Rockies' players know that Denver is Broncos' country. They don't mind the bandwagon jumpers. They're just happy to give the fans another team to root for in the fall.

"Have you ever jumped on a bandwagon before? So have I," manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's why they got 'em, so you can jump on them from time to time. It's a great sports town. It will be a great baseball town again."

And the team is rolling with the momentum of the longest winning streak in franchise history. In turn, they've clearly won over the city.

"When there's that unseen energy, you may not notice that it's louder, but it is," reliever Matt Herges said. "We, as ballplayers, do block out the crowd, but subconsciously, it kind of turns up the notch. This is the epitome of momentum. You feel it."

Though the postseason is far from a lock, things haven't looked this bright in LoDo in a while.

"They've won 11 in a row. Why not 14, right?" Cusick said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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