10/02/07 1:49 AM ET
Rockies month-by-month recap
By C.J. Moore / MLB.com
Rockies ownership made the deals despite the fact the Rox hadn't had a winning season since 2000. Despite winning three straight after the opening loss, Colorado didn't show much promise in April, getting off to a 10-16 start and sitting in last place in the National League West.
Second baseman Kazuo Matsui returned to the lineup that day after missing 32 games with a back injury. The Rockies responded to Matsui's presence by winning seven straight, getting to two games below .500, and tying the Giants for fourth in the NL West.
It was their first seven-game winning streak since 1998. The Rockies' pitching provided the lift. The starting rotation had seven straight quality starts, and the bullpen had a 0.59 ERA during the streak.
"It's June," Matt Holliday said after the sweep. "I think we're playing well. If we continue to play like this, come September, we'll be playing important games."
The Rockies didn't continue to play like they had.
They hit the road the next day and proceeded to lose eight straight, falling from 3 1/2 back of the division lead to a season-high eight back.
Brian Fuentes blew four saves during the losing streak, giving up 11 runs in 2 1/3 innings. Before the four blown saves, Fuentes had converted 20 of 22 saves and had only given up eight runs all season.
But as would become the anthem of the season, the Rockies cleansed themselves of their trip -- as Hurdle says, "They shower well" -- and they got back on track at Coors Field. The Rockies swept the Mets and won two of three against the Phillies to enter the All Star break at .500.
After the break, the Rockies again hit the road for another 10-game road trip. They avoided déjà vu, going 5-5 on the trip. Fuentes lost his closer's job to Manny Corpas after his four blown saves, and he headed to the disabled list with a strained lat muscle. Corpas had three saves on the road trip without giving up a run.
The Rockies returned home to take two of three from both the Padres and Dodgers and finished the month with a victory in Florida. Rockies management felt comfortable with the team they had and did not make a deal before the July 31 trade deadline, despite the fact that starting pitchers Rodrigo Lopez, who wouldn't return, and Jason Hirsh were on the disabled list.
The Rockies entered the final two months of the season 3 1/2 games back of the division lead at 54-51.
First, Hirsh fractured his fibula Aug. 7 and joined Lopez on the disabled list for the rest of the season. Despite suffering the injury in the first inning that day, Hirsh went on to pitch six innings in the middle game of the Rockies' three-game sweep of the Brewers, which put them a season-high five games above .500 and in sole possession of third place in the NL West.
After the sweep of the Brewers, the Rockies had won 15 of 18 at Coors Field and won nine straight series at home. But then the Cubs came to town and the two teams split the four-game series, and another starting pitcher went down in Aaron Cook. Cook headed to the DL with a strained oblique muscle. The Rockies thought at the time he would be able to return after a couple weeks' rest, but he also would end up missing the rest of the season.
The Rockies called up Triple-A Colorado Springs pitcher Tim Harikkala for Hirsh's next scheduled start, and then designated Harikkala for assignment after the game. Elmer Dessens, who was bouncing around in the Minor Leagues, took over for Cook. Rockies prospect Ubaldo Jimenez, 23, had taken Lopez's spot and Franklin Morales, 21, would take Cook's spot after Morales had made only three Triple-A starts before his promotion.
Following the Cubs series, the Rockies dropped seven of 10 and lost three straight series, culminating with their first series loss at home since mid-May to the last-place Pirates.
But as they had done all season, the Rockies rebounded to sweep the Nationals, overcoming a 5-1 deficit in the ninth inning of Game 1 to win, 6-5. Colorado finished the month five back of co-division leaders San Diego and Arizona.
After dropping two straight to the Marlins at Coors Field, they still had their sights on the playoffs. With 14 games left, they trailed the Wild Card-leading Padres by 4 1/2 games and were fourth in the Wild Card standings.
"I don't think we're going to go out and play like we're desperate, but I think we realize where we sit, and how many games are left and what we have to do," Todd Helton said after the loss to the Marlins. "[We need to] get a little bit lucky, but we're going to have to start winning some ballgames."
Helton and the Rockies' desperation served them well.
The Rockies followed the Marlins loss by winning 11 straight. Included in the mix were three Coors Field curtain calls and two game-winning homers in the Rockies' last at-bat. Helton received the first two curtain calls, the second coming on his two-out, two-strike game-winning homer off Dodgers closer Takashi Saito. The Rockies did not have a hit off Saito all season before that inning.
Brad Hawpe received a curtain call after he hit a game-winning homer the next night in the eighth inning, knocking the Dodgers out of playoff contention and the Rockies back in.
After sweeping the Dodgers, the Rockies headed to San Diego, where Hawpe again played hero, knocking in both Rockies runs and hitting another game-winning homer in a 14-inning, 2-1 victory, ending a seven-game winning streak for the Padres. The Rockies swept the Padres and then headed to Los Angeles, where they swept the Dodgers.
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.