Recapping the Rockies' run to the World Series

When the Colorado Rockies woke up on the morning of Sept. 16 and looked at the National League wild-card standings, they trailed wild-card leader San Diego by 4½ games, and Philadelphia and the L.A. Dodgers each by three games. Plus, the Rockies were in the midst of a three-game losing streak in which they'd been outscored 29-12.

In other words, the Rockies were an afterthought, a playoff contender mathematically, but not realistically. Only a streak of historic proportions could propel them into the postseason.

Today, the Rockies are, unbelievably, the National League champions as winners of 21 of 22 games -- not only getting to the playoffs with a 14-1 run but also sweeping Philadelphia and Arizona in the first two rounds to join the 1976 Cincinnati Reds -- more famously known as "The Big Red Machine" -- as the only teams to win the first seven games of any postseason.

How did the Rockies do it? Check out a synopsis of each game, with help from ESPN researcher Mark Kelly. The wild-card standings indicate the records at the close of play on each date listed.

The Rockies entered the final game of their three-game series against Florida trying to avoid a sweep against the last-place Marlins. Only 19,161 came to see them play at Coors Field. Todd Helton hit his 300th career home run, and the Rockies collected four home runs and 20 hits overall to back the pitching of Franklin Morales, who allowed three hits over six innings as the Rockies blew out Florida.

In the first game of a doubleheader at Coors Field, Jeff Francis struck out 10 batters, the most by a Rockies pitcher since 2003, and he set a franchise record for left-handed starters with his 16th victory of the season. Pinch hitter Joe Koshansky had an RBI double in the seventh for his first major league hit, and Todd Helton and Matt Holliday added RBI singles.

The Rockies were down to their last strike in the nightcap, but Todd Helton hit a two-run walk-off home run against Dodgers closer Takashi Saito to give the Rockies a 9-8 win. A Russell Martin solo HR in the eighth gave the Dodgers a 8-5 lead, but Ryan Spilborghs' two-run homer in the bottom of the inning and Helton's homer in the ninth completed the doubleheader sweep. "It's one of my favorite moments ever just watching him come around third," teammate Matt Holliday said referring to Helton's home run.

The Rockies faced a tough task in the person of Dodgers starter Brad Penny, who entered the game 12-2 in his career against the Rockies, including winning his last seven decisions against them. It looked like that would improve to 13-2 until Brad Hawpe hit a two-run home run in the eighth off Jonathan Broxton to give the Rockies the win. "This is special," Hawpe said.

Matt Holliday's 11th home run in his 12 games highlighted a six-run second inning as the Rockies pounded the Dodgers to complete the four-game sweep. "This is what it's all about, playing meaningful games in the last 10 days of the season," Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins said.

With the Rockies leading 1-0 entering the ninth inning, Manny Corpas allowed a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the inning. The blown save was Corpas' first in 17 save chances. However, Brad Hawpe's home run in the 14th inning gave the Rockies a 2-1 win, clinching their first winning season since 2000. "It's another beautiful swing," manager Clint Hurdle said.


Brad Hawpe starred again, going 4-for-4 as the Rockies won their seventh straight game. Four Colorado relievers combined to give up one hit in 4 2/3 innings. Rookie Ryan Speier (2-1) got the win, striking out three of the five batters he faced. "It was a huge win for us," Speier said.


Jeff Francis held the Padres to two runs and seven hits in eight innings to tie the franchise record with his 17th win of the season. The Rockies also set the team record for most wins -- winning their 84th game of the season -- and completed a three-game sweep of the Padres.


Troy Tulowitzki homered to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs while Todd Helton had a pair of RBI singles to give the Rockies their ninth straight win, tying a franchise record. "Everyone's just having fun, playing hard, guys are coming up with big hits in big situations, and we're just letting it all hang out," said Matt Holliday.


Josh Fogg allowed no runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings and the Rockies scored twice in the third inning in their shutout win over the Dodgers. It was the Rockies' seventh straight win over the Dodgers and their franchise-record 10th straight victory overall. "We're embracing it and having fun," Fogg said.

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Garrett Atkins had four hits, including a home run, and Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton homered as the Rockies beat the Dodgers
for the eighth straight time down the stretch and their 11th straight win overall. "We've had good pitching, good hitting, good defense and good luck." Atkins said.

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The Rockies' 11-game win streak was snapped as Arizona ace Brandon Webb allowed two runs over seven innings and outdueled the Rockies' Jeff Francis. "It's been a crazy year so far," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Maybe the craziness isn't over."
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With their playoff destiny out of their hands, the Rockies got the help they needed. First, Troy Tulowitzki hit his first career grand slam, Matt Holliday had a two-run double and Garrett Atkins drove in two runs to defeat the Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, the Padres were one strike away from a victory that would have mathematically eliminated the Rockies. But Padres closer Trevor Hoffman allowed a game-tying triple to Tony Gwynn Jr., and the Padres lost to the Brewers in extra innings to keep the Rockies alive. The Rockies headed into the final day of the season needing a Padres loss and a win of their own to secure a tie for the NL wild card. "Everybody is going to be dreaming about baseball tonight," Hawpe said. "We'll be waking up to baseball dreams."

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The scoreboard verified that the Padres were about to lose to the Brewers, trailing 11-4 in the ninth inning. The Rockies responded with three runs in the eighth inning, two on a double from Brad Hawpe, to snap a 1-1 tie and held on in the ninth inning to force a one-game playoff with the Padres for the wild card. "We still haven't finished it," Todd Helton said. "One hundred sixty-three games. It all comes down to tomorrow."

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Leading 6-5 with two outs in the eighth inning, Matt Holliday's miscue in left field allowed the Padres to score the tying run as he misplayed a Brian Giles fly ball. The two teams then held each other scoreless until Scott Hairston hit a go-ahead two-run home run off Jorge Julio in the 13th inning. The Padres then called on Trevor Hoffman to preserve the win. Kaz Matsui led off with a double and then scored on Troy Tulowitzki's double to get the Rockies within one run. Up stepped Holliday with a chance to redeem himself. Holliday ripped Hoffman's first pitch off the right-field fence, scoring Tulowitzki to tie the game and racing to third on the hit. The Padres elected to walk Todd Helton to face Jamey Carroll with the winning run on third base. Carroll hit Hoffman's first pitch to right field where Giles caught the ball and threw home to try and cut down Holliday, who tagged up from third. Holliday's head-first slide seemed to freeze in time as umpire Tim McClelland made a delayed safe call, and replays were inconclusive about whether or not Holliday touched the plate with his left hand. The Rockies clinched their first playoff berth since 1995 by winning 14 of their final 15 games. "It's been an incredible run from Game 1 to Game 163," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "This is just a snapshot of what we've been through."

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Matt HollidayRECAP | BOX SCORE
Led by a great pitching performance from Jeff Francis, the Rockies defeated the Phillies. Francis allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, and three Rockies relievers allowed just two walks and no hits over the final three innings. The Rockies held the Phillies' MVP trio of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitless in 11 at-bats with eight strikeouts. "Any time you expect a slugfest, you get a pitching duel," Holliday said.

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Kaz Matsui picked the perfect time to hit his first career grand slam as his fourth-inning blast erased a 3-2 deficit. Matsui fell a single shy of being the first player in major league history to hit for the cycle in a playoff game as the Rockies moved within one win of reaching the NLCS. "We believe we're going to win every game," manager Clint Hurdle said.

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Rockies celebrateRECAP | BOX SCORE
Jeff Baker hit a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead. Manny Corpas then retired the side in order in the ninth as the Rockies completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies to advance to the NLCS for the first time in team history. "Every night it's been somebody different. That's what's so special -- we haven't relied on one guy," Baker said. Added Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: "They are on one of the most amazing streaks I have seen a team have at the end of the season."

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Jeff Francis scattered 7 hits over 6 2/3 innings and Brad Hawpe had two hits and two RBIs. Down 5-1, Arizona put runners at first and second with no outs in the seventh. Augie Ojeda bounced to third baseman Garrett Atkins, who threw to second baseman Kaz Matsui to start a double play. Justin Upton, running from first base, slid over second base and then rolled his right shoulder into Matsui's left leg, knocking the infielder to the ground. Second-base umpire Larry Vanover immediately called Upton out for interference, resulting in a double play. Said Hurdle: "It looked like a good, aggressive slide going in, and I thought he went out of his way to make contact."

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Willy TaverasRECAP | BOX SCORE
The Rockies took a 2-0 series lead and won their eighth straight game dating back to the regular season. Manny Corpas was unable to protect a 2-1 lead in the ninth, but a bases-loaded walk to Willy Tavarez in the 11th gave the Rockies the lead. "We realize there's more work to be done," Todd Helton said. "Denver is going to be a crazy place this weekend."

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Yorvit TorrealbaRECAP | BOX SCORE
Josh Fogg shut down Arizona's bats in his first postseason start and Yorvit Torrealba hit a tiebreaking three-run homer to fuel the Rockies' ninth straight win. The Rockies now stood one game away from reaching the World Series. "Tomorrow we're going to come here just like we have been doing," Torrealba said. "We're going to relax, watch TV, and when it's time to play, we're going to try to get one more win."

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Matt Holliday's three-run HR capped a six-run fourth inning during which the Rockies turn a 1-0 deficit into a 6-1 lead. All of their runs came with two outs, including a Kaz Matsui RBI single and Holliday's HR after an error by Diamondbacks first baseman Conor Jackson. Manny Corpas came on to get the final four outs after the Diamondbacks had cut the lead to 6-4. Holliday was named series MVP. "It's unbelievable. I never dreamed I'd have this opportunity," Holliday said. "With this group of guys, I'm so excited to be a part of it. This MVP award goes 24 other directions."
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