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Rockies' admiration for Street mutual

Rockies, Street mutual admirers

DENVER -- It took several weeks of the Rockies' Spring Training for closer Huston Street to gain a feeling that his new team was special.

Street came to the Rockies last winter in the trade that sent Matt Holliday to the Athletics. Having appeared in the 2006 playoffs with the Athletics, Street knew a little something about good teams.

"It's all talk," Street said. "It's like me. When I got traded here, I was all talk. Guys hadn't seen me play, either. So at first we were kind of feeling each other out.

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Pulse
Rockies at a glance
2009 record: 92-70
2008 record: 74-88
Clinched NL Wild Card
NLDS matchup:
Rockies at Phillies
Postseason tix: Information

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Gonzalez: Bat on fire
Bullpen: Hitting stride
Gonzalez: Rewarding Rox
Giambi: Impact beyond bat
Tulowitzki: Ready for return
Cook: Returns right on time
Barmes: Credit to Tracy
Marquis: Living in moment
Ubaldo: Big-game pitcher
Helton/Giambi: Leaders
Stewart: Emerging star
Tracy: Quiet leader
Street: Mutual admiration
De La Rosa: Earning trust
Ubaldo: Sending a message
Helton: Resurgent slugger
Morales: On the attack
Tulowitzki: Vigorous finish

"But about into 10 days of the games, I remember going home to my wife and saying, 'We've got a chance.'"

Now Street has become a big part of the team's chance to make the playoffs and advance. Street has converted 34 of his 35 save opportunities this season, including his last 26. The streak, which included Sunday's two-inning save in a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals, is the longest in the Majors.

Street won the closer job over Manuel Corpas to start the season. But the Rockies struggled early and Street began the year pitching poorly enough that then-manager Clint Hurdle replaced him with Corpas in late April. That happened even though Street had not blown a save.

But rather than complain, Street understood and worked his way back to the job.

To do so meant putting his ego aside.

Street was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2005. He had 94 saves in his first four seasons, and that included a 2007 season in which he lost the Athletics' closer job -- while trying to pitch through a hip flexor injury.

But Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca and bullpen coach Jim Wright saw a change that they felt would unlock even further success.

Street was almost all the way to the first-base side of the pitching rubber. His coaches with the Rockies felt his slider and fastball would be more deceiving, especially to right-handed hitters, if he moved to the third-base side.

The move was presented as a suggestion, and Street declined at first. But the coaches persisted. His catchers chimed in and said they agreed. Fellow pitcher Jason Marquis, who has a knack for spotting mechanical changes that could be made, thought a move would help. Even his father, James Street, a former standout pitcher at the University of Texas, told him to listen.

Finally, he did.

"I have to give 100 percent credit to the move on the mound," Street said. "I moved pretty much all 17 inches.

"My mentality never changed. It wasn't as if I'd ever lost confidence. I was always shocked every time when things didn't work out in a game."

By the time Jim Tracy replaced Hurdle as manager in late May, just before the Rockies caught fire in June, Street was entrenched as the closer. He relished the chance to show that the Rockies' World Series appearance in 2007 was no fluke after the club slipped to 74-88 in 2008.

"We have a lot of guys who have shown who they are as players," Street said. "It was a year where I needed to step up, prove to the league, prove to other people, prove to this team, that I was someone who would help a team win."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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