DENVER -- The Rockies went to the World Series in 2007. They also came the closest to ending the Dodgers’ hold on the National League West, when they took them to a showdown game for the division title in 2018.
But neither was the best regular-season performance in club history. Here is the list of the Top 5 seasons in Rockies history:
The Rockies started 18-28, but the team took off when Jim Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle as manager in late May. Each starting rotation member had a winning record and finished in double digits in wins, with Jorge De La Rosa notching 16 and Ubaldo Jiménez and Jason Marquis registering 15 apiece. Those five rotation members started all but seven games.
The ending, however, didn’t live up to the regular season. After splitting two games at Philadelphia to start the best-of-five NL Division Series, the Rockies suffered two heartbreaking, ninth-inning losses at Coors Field. The Phillies were aided in Game 3 on a Chase Utley single when plate umpire Jerry Meals missed the ball bouncing off Utley’s leg while he was in the batter’s box. In Game 4, Rockies closer Huston Street was one strike from a win, only to walk Utley and yield a Ryan Howard double and a Jayson Werth soft single.
Hometown left-hander Kyle Freeland posted a 2.85 ERA -- a club record for someone who qualified for league rankings in a full season (Marvin Freeman had a 2.80 in strike-shortened 1994). Freeland turned Coors Field into his fortress (10-2, 2.40 ERA at home). Right-hander Germán Márquez emerged as a force, and Wade Davis set a club record with 43 saves. Nolan Arenado (38 home runs), Trevor Story (37) and Charlie Blackmon (29) led the offense.
The Rockies led the NL West by a game with two to go but finished in a tie with the Dodgers after game No. 162. Going to Los Angeles the following day -- and losing the division tiebreaker -- led to a downfall. The following night, the Rockies beat the Cubs, 2-1, in 13 innings but seemingly had nothing left. They were swept in three games against the Brewers in the NLDS.
Remember, this list is ordered by regular-season winning percentage here. This year will always be tops in the Rockies’ hearts.
Helton’s Sept. 18 walk-off homer off the Dodgers’ Takashi Saito signaled things could be special. Batting champ Matt Holliday, Tulowitzki and whichever hero of the day -- Garrett Atkins, Hawpe, Yorvit Torrealba, you name it -- took over from there. The Rockies won 14 of 15 games to complete the regular season. The last of that run was Game 163 -- a classic 9-8, 13-inning win over the Padres.
Three of the five original members of the starting rotation were injured by the season’s final month. Lefty Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22 ERA) led the staff. Manager Clint Hurdle used a bullpen of mostly veterans (Brian Fuentes, Jeremy Affeldt, Matt Herges, LaTroy Hawkins) and a special rookie (closer Manny Corpas) expertly to handle a large innings load. This magical team swept the Phillies and the D-backs in the playoffs before seeing it all dissipate in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in the World Series.
Bud Black was the first to manage consecutive Rockies postseason berths, and his initial playoff visit took special managerial magic. Starters pitchers Freeland, Márquez and Antonio Senzatela were rookies. Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson were in their sophomore campaigns. The “old men” weren’t that old. Chad Bettis, 28, missed much of the year in his bout with testicular cancer, and Tyler Chatwood, 27, pitched better than his 8-15 record would indicate.
The season ended in wild fashion, with an 11-8 loss to the D-backs in the NL Wild Card Game.
After the labor strife that wiped out the end of the 1994 season and delayed the ’95 campaign, the Rockies provided immediate Coors Field magic. In the Rockies’ first game in their new ballpark, Dante Bichette hit a 14th-inning homer to beat the Mets. Hall of Famer Larry Walker was in his first year in purple pinstripes, and he joined Bichette, Andrés Galarraga, Ellis Burks and Vinny Castilla in a feared lineup that would be known as the Blake Street Bombers. The Rockies led the league in runs (785), hits (1,406), triples (43) and home runs (200).
The thrilling, 10-9 victory over the Giants in the regular-season finale put the Rockies in the postseason in their third year of existence -- at the time the quickest a franchise had made it. The 3-1 series loss to the Braves in the NLDS included the type of wild games that became the earmark of baseball at Coors Field.