The greatest game in Rockies history was a pretty good example of what the '07 Rocktober run looked like as a whole.
The deficit was too large to overcome. Or, at least, that's what everyone thought.
The date was Oct. 1, 2007, and the Rocks were taking on the San Diego Padres in the National League Wild Card tiebreaker game.
Colorado was playing in front of a sellout crowd at Coors Field with a chance to clinch a playoff spot for just the second time in franchise history, and the first time in 12 years.
You could feel the buzz in the air, not just around 20th and Blake, but throughout the entire state of Colorado.
The Rockies had won 13 of 14 games to even make this game possible, but the fans wanted something more. They wanted a trip to the postseason.
Colorado scored 3 runs in the first two innings, but saw that lead quickly evaporate when Pitcher Josh Fogg gave up 5 runs in the top of the third inning--including a grand slam to Adrian Gonzalez--to make it 5-3 Padres.
But, like they had done during the entire stretch run, the Rockies' bats got the team right back in the game.
Todd Helton homered in the third, and then Matt Holliday added an RBI single in the fifth to tie things up at 5.
The Rocks even took a 6-5 lead in the 6th, but set up man Brian Fuentes gave up a game-tying RBI double in the 8th to Brian Giles. Or at least, that's how it was officially ruled. Really, Holliday misjudged what should have been an easy fly ball out to left field. Instead, the ball sailed well over his glove and brought home the tying run.
It would go to extra innings, knotted at 6-6. Like the rest of Rocktober, there was going to be some drama.
Both teams were held scoreless until the 13th inning.
And then, with one swing of the bat, it looked like the Rockies' magical run would be coming to a disappointing end.
Relief pitcher Jorge Julio came in and gave up a two-run homer to Scott Hairston in the top half of the inning to make it 8-6 San Diego. Once again, it would take a miracle for Rocktober to stay alive.
To make matters worse, All-Star closer Trevor Hoffman was coming to the mound for the Padres in the bottom half of the frame--needing just three outs to end Colorado's season.
Rockies fans will never forget what ensued that night in lower downtown.
Kaz Matsui started things off with a double in the bottom of the 13th. Next up was rookie Troy Tulowitzki, who hit a line drive to shallow left center to score Matsui. Tulo stretched it to a double, and Coors Field was rocking.
With nobody out and a runner on second, NL MVP candidate Matt Holliday stepped up to the plate.
On the first pitch, Holliday lifted a long fly ball to deep right field. It looked like the ball might leave the yard, but it went off the top of the scoreboard. Tulo scored easily, and Holliday wound up on third base with a triple. The game was tied.
Hoffman then intentionally walked Helton. With nobody out and runners on 1st and 3rd, seldom used utility infielder Jamey Carroll was at bat with a chance to send the Rockies to the playoffs on a walk-off.
Once again, on the very first pitch, Carroll hit a line drive that was caught by Giles in right field. Holliday took off from third base.
What happened next is something that will be debated in baseball circles for the rest of time. Did Holliday touch home plate?
We may never know the answer to that. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. Photo and video evidence appears to suggest that he did not. But that didn't matter.
What mattered was that on an epic head first slide into home plate--one that busted up his chin by the way--Holliday was ruled safe, and the celebration began.
With a 9-8 comeback victory in extra innings, the Rockies were going to the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons.
Rockies win 2007 NL Wild Card tiebreaker game
It was their 14th victory in 15 games, and it was the most exciting of them all.
The win set up a matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. The regular season was over, but Rocktober '07--playoff edition--was just beginning.
Player Reflections 10 years later
Relief Pitcher Brian Fuentes: “It was nuts. We had so many emotional highs before that, and that was almost the apex. Or you think you hit this point and then something else great would happen and you’d be like ‘Oh! I can’t believe that just happened.' Then we go kick the snot of out of Philly and we’re like, 'Dude we just ran through those guys,’ and it was just like one thing after another and another and another. We celebrated at home basically three times with the play-in game and the two clinching games, which were both here, and it was nuts.”
Todd Helton-“I remember the feeling after the home run one of the Hairston brothers hit (the Padres' go-ahead homer in the 13th). The feeling I had after he hit that home run was painful. We got back in the dugout after he hit that homer and everybody was saying, 'we never said this was going to be easy, and we still have a chance to win this game.' And, going up against one of the greatest closers in history, we were able to pull it off.”
Former Padres and Current Rockies manager Bud Black On the play-in game being one of the best games ever played: “I agree man. And I don’t think it gets the credit that it deserves. And partially because of the two teams, two kind of under the market type teams. But what a great game. Great game. Fans were great that night, I do remember that. The fans were in to it.”
Jamey Carroll on his winning sac fly-“I remember waiting to get pinched hit for. I got pinched hit for every other time that month and I wasn’t hitting well. But every time I went in, if the team came back and tied it or took the lead I got pinched hit for. So I was waiting for that, but I think it happened so fast and I was sitting there and I turned and looked and Brad Hawpe was like ‘just go up there.’ So I started to walk, waiting, and it never happened. And, understanding that Michael Barrett was catching, who I had played with throughout the minor leagues and some in the big leagues, and knowing that he knows that I don’t swing much and we’ve had this discussion, that I don't swing at the first pitch much. And, knowing that (Trevor) Hoffman... he starts with a fastball away. I figured, 'now’s the time.' I think I almost wanted to swing before (Manager) Clint Hurdle decided to do something different. I just thought I’m going to try and get it in the air, and when I hit it I thought ‘yes, enough wood. Oh, nope not enough.’ So, I had 10 different emotions, and waiting for him to call Matty (Holliday) safe was the probably the longest 5 seconds of my whole entire life. Then I got to celebrate like a kid all over again. I would do it again. That feeling is worth it. There’s nothing better than getting cold champagne or beer poured over you. I don’t think you can do it enough.”
Relief Pitcher LaTroy Hawkins- “I remember it being one of the most emotionally draining games I’ve ever been a part of. People to this day say Holliday was out at home plate and I say, maybe he didn’t touch home plate, but what about the home run that Garrett Atkins hit that hit the lady's wheel chair? (referring to a hit earlier in the game that was ruled a double, but clearly left the park) So, apples and oranges. “