The Rockies' first national television appearance this season was in their 163rd game of the season, but it won't be their last.
After winning 13 of their final 14 games, the Rockies finished the 162-game schedule tied with the San Diego Padres for the NL wild card berth, making a climactic 163rd contest necessary.
The Rockies won that game on Monday in epic fashion, claiming a 9-8 victory over the Padres by scoring three runs in the bottom of the 13th inning against all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman.
Their reward was an overnight flight to Philadelphia, where the team landed
at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and a little bit of attention on the national stage.
On Wednesday, they earned a little more with a 4-2 victory over the Phillies in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, hanging the loss on Cole Hamels, the Phillies' ace.
"Maybe because we're not that experienced, and in (Class AAA) you are used to flying into town on game day, that it doesn't bother us," reliever Brian Fuentes said when asked about the Rockies' ability to maintain their energy after expending so much of it to make the postseason.
Or maybe, in the words of Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, they're "just a good team, plain and simple."
Said Hurdle, "I don't know what everybody thinks everywhere else, but I
know they believe in the clubhouse that they have a pretty good team, and that
no matter what, these guys are ready to play when it's time to play.
"We respect everybody but are in awe of no one."
ANALYZING THE LINEUP:
1. 2B Kaz Matsui
2. SS Troy Tulowitzki
3. LF Matt Holliday
4. 1B Todd Helton
5. 3B Garrett Atkins
6. RF Brad Hawpe
7. CF Ryan Spilborghs
8. C Yorvit Torrealba
Comment: The Rockies didn't knock the cover off the ball in Game 1, but they were smart -- they made Phillies starter Cole Hamels throw strikes. And when he didn't, the Rockies had an early 3-0 lead that held up. Torrealba was the only Rockies starter to have more than one hit (he had two).
ANALYZING THE ROTATION:
1. LHP Jeff Francis
2. LHP Franklin Morales
3. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
4. RHP Josh Fogg
Comment: Francis is sneaky fast, and he came out blazing against the Phillies. The afternoon twilight helped, but his eight strikeouts were no fluke. It remains to be seen whether the rest of this rotation can produce similar results.
ANALYZING THE BULLPEN:
RH Manny Corpas (closer)
LHP Brian Fuentes
RHP Ryan Speier
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
LHP Jeremy Affeldt
Comment: The only blemishes in three strong innings by the 'pen in Game 1 were two walks. The Phillies didn't get a hit off Hawkins, Fuentes and Corpas.