Despite only being a 19 year old franchise, the Rockies are starting to build up some history, some ghosts of the past, and all that other good stuff. Hell, maybe one day, even the team will decide to recognize it and finally start honoring said history inside of its home ballpark, but that's a whole different article - and one that WILL happen, mind you. Regardless, with opening day nipping at our heels, I figured a great way to get myself and all of you pumped about that would be to write about the top five opening day games in the history of the Rockies. This only includes actual opening day games, so that disqualifies the 1993 home opener, and various other memorable home openers over the years. Just missing the cut was the 1998 opener, which saw the Rockies crush the D-Backs in Arizona in their inaugural MLB game, as well as the 2008 opener, which was luckily rained out after the Rockies found themselves down 5-0 in St. Louis in a hurry.
The Rockies showed up to Phoenix with their beatin' sticks to open the season, as they tagged Brandon Webb for six runs on six hits (including two homers) in four innings. It still stands as the last MLB game that Webb has pitched. Unfortunately, Aaron Cook allowed just as many runs in only two and a third innings. Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Iannetta hit LONG back-to-back homers off of Webb in the fourth inning, and Seth Smith hit an absolute bomb left-on-left off of Scott Schoenweis to tie the game in the seventh. However, Chad Tracy (not Jim's son, but the ginger one) lived up to his Rockies-killing past (.999 career OPS against Colorado), hitting a tie-breaking homer the following inning to give the D-Backs a 9-8 lead that they would hold onto through the remainder of the game. Sure it was a loss, but the surprising offensive output was a sign of things to come for a team that would eventually make it to the postseason.
Both starting pitchers (Woody Williams and the late Joe Kennedy) proved ineffective, as like the game above, each allowed six runs. The Padres built a two run lead in the top of the seventh on the strength of home runs by Ramon Hernandez and Xavier Nady off of Scott Dohmann. After a few scoreless frames, the Rockies exploded for four runs in the bottom of the ninth off of Trevor Hoffman (who, of course, would have a similar outing about two and a half years later), all which coming with two outs. Cory Sullivan doubled in Jeff Baker, Aaron Miles singled in Sullivan, and Clint Barmes capped off the rally with a two-run walk-off homer to send the hometown fans off in a frenzy.
In what has since become a tradition in Japan, the Rockies and Padres faced off in Mexico to open the 1999 season, and it was the first time a season-opening baseball game was played anywhere other than in the U.S. or Canada. What made it even more special was that the Rox took the defending NL champs to the woodshed, scoring eight runs on 18 hits. Surprisingly, only two of the hits went for extra bases - Vinny Castilla doubled and Dante Bichette homered - and the Rockies left a small village on the basepaths, otherwise the outcome would have resulted in an even bigger blowout. Bichette and Castilla each had four hits, and the late Darryl Kile picked up the victory by tossing six and two-thirds innings of two-run ball. It was Jim Leyland's first of not many victories as manager of the Rockies.
Click past the jump to see the top two opening day ballgames in the history of the Rockies.
In what I remember being an unbelievably exciting day (and keep in mind I don't live/never have lived in Denver), the Rockies made their MLB debut against a fairly highly-regarded Mets team that ended up being terrible. They weren't on this day, though, as a seemingly rejuvenated Doc Gooden tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just four hits and a walk while punching out four. The punchless Rockies were led by Andres Galarraga, who had the first two of many 1993 hits - he would go on to win the NL batting title with a .370 average. On the mound, David Nied was poor; he only allowed two runs in his five innings of work, but he walked six batters and allowed six hits, including a homer to Bobby Bonilla. Still, it was a great day for Rockies fans, and this game would have taken the cake had the Rox been on the winning side.
This was a great day for so many reasons. First and foremost, the Rockies were debuting their brand new jewel of a ballpark, which was already the talk of baseball. On top of that, they were doing on national TV coming off of a player's strike that threatened the well-being of the sport as we knew it. What's more, the Rockies appeared to have a strong team, with the team's biggest position player free agent splash to date, Larry Walker, set to make his debut in purple pinstripes. The Rockies jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 5-1, with the newcomer Walker driving in two of the runs on doubles. However, the Mets quickly tied the game at 5 when Todd Hundley cleared the bases with a grand slam off of Bill Swift. The Mets took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth, when Walker came through with another RBI double to tie the game off of New York closer John Franco.
The teams would see-saw back and forth during the extra frames, with no team wanting to relinquish the exciting season opener. As part of the back-and-forth scoring, the Mets took a 9-8 lead in the top of the 14th inning on an RBI double by Joe Orsulak. Finally, in the bottom of that inning, the Rockies were able to get more than just the one run required to keep the game going, as Dante Bichette launched a Mike Remlinger offering deep into the Rocky Mountain night sky for a three-run walk-off home run, giving his club a season-opening 11-9 victory. The Rockies, behind a career season from Bichette, would go on to become the first NL wildcard winners in just their third year of existence.