A 21-game salute to Rockies history

A 21-game salute to Rox history

DENVER -- As the Rockies' 21-1 stretch gained momentum in late September, a nightly debate began brewing about how their highlights stacked up against the most exciting and significant games in franchise history.

Did Todd Helton's walk-off homer in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Dodgers bump off Eric Young's legendary leadoff homer in the first big league game played in Colorado? Did Jeff Francis' Game 1 win in the NLCS edge Jason Jennings' historic debut? And did the 13-inning Wild Card tiebreaker best the '95 clincher on the last day of the season?

The debates may rage for ages, but suffice it to say that the Rockies' unprecedented 30-day race to their first World Series was like combining the greatest highlights in the franchise's history into one miraculous month of awe-inspiring baseball.

Here, then, is a 21-game salute to the Rockies, a highlight reel from the 14 years, five months and two weeks that preceded Colorado's surreal surge from Sept. 16, 2007, to the Fall Classic:

April 5, 1993
Mets 3, Rockies 0

The Rockies played their first Major League game, falling to the Mets as Dwight Gooden threw a four-hit shutout on Opening Day. Andres Gallaraga got Colorado's first hit in the second inning en route to winning the National League batting title with a .370 mark. The Rockies' No. 1 pick in the expansion draft, David Nied, struck out leadoff hitter Vince Coleman in the first, the first batter to face the Rockies.

April 9, 1993
Rockies 11, Expos 4

Eric Young blasted the first big league pitch the Rockies saw in Colorado into the rolling left-field seats at Mile High Stadium for one of the franchise's all-time memorable moments. A Major League record 80,227 fans filled the stadium for the Rockies' first win, and the Rockies went on to set a MLB attendance record for a season with 4,483,350 fans attending in their inaugural year.

June 21, 1994
Rockies 8, Astros 0

Nied threw the club's first complete-game shutout, electrifying Mile High Stadium with a win over the Astros.

April 26, 1995
Rockies 11, Mets 9 (14 innings)

On a long-awaited Opening Day following the prolonged strike of '94, the Rockies coined the phrase, "It's never over at Coors Field," inaugurating their new park by coming back from 7-6 in the ninth, from 8-7 in the 13th, and from 9-8 in the 14th to earn the win on Dante Bichette's game-winning three-run homer onto the concourse. Bichette went on to lead the league in hits, homers and RBIs.

Oct. 1, 1995
Rockies 10, Giants 9

In a must-win game on the season's final day, the Rockies beat the Giants, 10-9, to clinch the Wild Card and secure the quickest trip to the postseason by an expansion club, surpassing the eight-year path blazed by the Miracle Mets. The campaign culminated in Manager of the Year honors for Don Baylor.

Oct. 3, 1995
Braves 5, Rockies 4

The Rockies played their first playoff game as a euphoric crowd coaxed them to a 3-1 lead against Greg Maddux after five before finally falling in a thrilling one-run loss to the Braves.

Oct. 4, 1995
Braves 7, Rockies 4

The intensity and excitement of Game 1 carried over to Game 2, with the Rockies facing Tom Glavine and taking a 4-3 lead into the ninth before a four-run final frame did them in.

Oct. 6, 1995
Rockies 7, Braves 5 (10 innings)

Colorado claimed it first postseason victory with a 10th-inning two-run, two-out rally by Bichette, Larry Walker, Gallaraga, and Vinny Castilla.

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(*) Sept.17, 1996
Dodgers 9, Rockies 0

Hideo Nomo threw the first no-hitter in Colorado history, striking out eight and walking four in a 0-9 Rockies loss.

(*) Don't count it among the top 21 highlights for the Rockies, but it fits alongside their one loss to Brandon Webb in their 22-game stretch run to the World Series.

April 5, 1997
Rockies 15, Expos 3

The Rockies hit a franchise-best seven home runs in a win in Montreal. Walker led the barrage with three round-trippers in his old stomping grounds, while fellow Blake Street Bombers Ellis Burks, Galarraga, Castilla and Bichette each added a dinger. Walker went on to win the NL MVP award, coming four hits and 10 RBIs shy of the league's first Triple Crown in 60 years.

July 7, 1998
American League 13, National League 8

Coors Field hosted the 69th All-Star Game, the highest-scoring Midsummer Classic in history, as the American League rolled to a 13-8 victory. Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Roberto Alomar each homered, with Alomar's 3-for-4 day earning MVP honors.

April 4, 1999
Rockies 8, Padres 2

The Rockies won the first big league Opening Day game played outside of the United States or Canada, defeating the reigning NL Champion Padres in Monterrey, Mexico, as Vinny Castilla went 4-for-5 in his home country.

Aug. 22, 2000
Rockies 7, Braves 6 (12 innings)

Catcher Brent Mayne, sidelined with a sprained left wrist, took the mound for the Rockies in the 12th, having never before pitched in any organized game. After retiring the first two hitters, he allowed a hit and a walk before inducing an inning-ending grounder from MVP Chipper Jones. When the Rox broke through with a run in the bottom of the frame, Mayne became the first position player to win a game since Rocky Colavito pitched the Yankees to victory over the Tigers in 1968.

Aug. 23, 2001
Rockies 10, Mets 0

In his Major League debut, Jason Jennings threw a complete-game shutout against the Mets and hit a home run, the first pitcher to debut with a homer while blanking the opposition in Major League history. His bat, borrowed from Juan Uribe, went to the Hall of Fame.

April 4, 2005
Rockies 12, Padres 10

Rookie Clint Barmes capped a 4-for-6 Opening Day outing by blasting a two-run walk-off homer off Trevor Hoffman in the ninth, giving the Rox a 12-10 victory.

July 9, 2005
Rockies 1, Padres 0

Jennings combined with Jay Witasick and Brian Fuentes to throw the first 1-0 game at Coors Field, and the only Rockies 1-0 win there, stifling the Padres. The Rox had beaten the Braves, 1-0, at Mile High Stadium on Aug. 10, 1994, with Kevin Ritz and Steve Reed pitching a rain-shortened, six-inning game.

April 3, 2006
Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 2 (11 innings)

Brad Hawpe hit a walk-off fielder's choice in the 11th inning, driving home Matt Holliday with the winning run in an Opening Day defeat of the D-backs that saw Jennings and Webb throw seven innings of one-run ball each. The 3-2 victory matched the Rockies' lowest combined scoring extra-inning affair in franchise history, though the club finished with a combined five runs or fewer five times in extras in '07.

June 20, 2006
Rockies 6, A's 0

The Rockies threw their only one-hitter in franchise history, home or away. Jennings allowed a first-inning single to Jason Kendall, then silenced the A's bats through the seventh, when Tom Martin and Fuentes took the baton and finished the job in front of the hometown fans.

Sept. 28, 2006
Dodgers 19, Rockies 11

In the last home game of the season, Castilla -- brought back to the club in September so he could retire as a Rockie -- pinch-hit with two outs in the fourth for his final big league at-bat. The Rox entered the inning down, 8-3, but Castilla kept a seven-run rally alive with a run-scoring single to center and later in the inning scored the go-ahead run. The send-off was a significant adieu to the last of the Blake Street Bombers.

April 29, 2007
Rockies 9, Braves 7 (11 innings)

Troy Tulowitzki recorded the 13th unassisted triple play in big league history. Chipper Jones hit a line drive at Tulo, who snared the ball in flight, stepped on second to double up Kelly Johnson, and tagged Edgar Renteria between first and second. His cap and jersey went to the Hall of Fame, and Tulo went on to post the best fielding percentage among big league shortstops in '07, helping the Rockies set the all-time Major League record for team fielding percentage (.98925).

June 21, 2007
Rockies 4, Yankees 3

Rodrigo Lopez beat Roger Clemens at Coors Field to complete a three-game sweep of the Yankees, handing Clemens his first defeat of the season while Lopez remained undefeated at 4-0.

Sept. 9, 2007
Rockies 4, Padres 2

With his 35th double of the season, Todd Helton broke a nearly 100-year-old record, passing Tris Speaker to become the first player in the history of the game to hit 35 or more doubles for 10 consecutive seasons. "Any time you do something in this game that nobody's done, it's a huge accomplishment," Helton said after the game, little suspecting that his club was poised for even greater accomplishments in the month-long surge through uncharted waters that would launch a week later.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.