Friday, October 26, 2007

World Series Game Four - Soxtober Sweep!

Red Sox infielders Julio Lugo, Dustin Pedroia and World Series MVP Mike Lowell race in to celebrate winning Game Four by a 4-3 score to sweep the Colorado Rockies. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

World Series Wrapup - The fourth consecutive short Series since 2004 (three sweeps and 2006's 5-game contest) makes me long for a competitive version of baseball's showcase event. We can't expect a 2001-like battle (Arizona's seventh-game, ninth-inning triumph over the Yankees, in which the even the Yankees' wins featured heroic late-game home runs) every year, but it would be nice if both teams would both hit and field like league champions. The last four Series losers (St. Louis, Houston, Detroit and Colorado) hit terribly and the Tigers' fielding, especially that of their pitchers, was memorably bad. To their credit, the Red Sox starters were all between good (Dice-K) and awesome (Beckett and Lester) in the face of factors working against them (high altitude for Dice-K; long layoff for Lester), and the Red Sox bullpen was either brilliant (Game Two), unused (Game One) or good as they had to be (Games Three and Four). Terry Francona managed his pitching staff with great confidence. Francona also deserves credit for entrusting center field to rookie Jacoby Ellsbury, whose work from the leadoff spot was a key factor in winning Games Three and Four. Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert salutes the Sox for shutting down "Rocktober", which he says belongs to the people as the month following "Zeptember" and preceding "AC/DCember".

My friends in the Red Sox Nation prefer the role of the underdog, but it will be ever more difficult for a defending-champion team with a combination of veteran and young talent to play that role. With the Yankees getting old and apparently losing A-Rod, the Red Sox will be heavy favorites to repeat in the AL East. The Indians showed their mettle in the ALCS, and should be strong again in 2008. The Tigers looked like the best team in baseball for half a season and could rebound. The Angels will probably fill some of their holes (B..o..n..d..s?) and contend in at least the West. The rest of the AL teams have a ways to go.

The power structure changes fast in baseball, but the Rockies look well-suited to contend again in 2008, with young stars such as Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Phillies fell flat in the Division Series, but should continue to contend with their nucleus of Rollins, Utley and Howard. They'll have to find some starting pitching (Schilling??). The Brewers are another team with good young players. With some better pitching they should be tough to beat in the NL Central. Oh yeah, the Diamondbacks won the West and the Cubs the Central and the Mets were the best team in the league for all but the last two weeks. I guess they'll probably all hang around. And with the top NL team winning only 90 games, just about any team could turn things around and get involved. Just a little more than five months to Opening Day!

October 28 Preview (slightly delayed) - Tonight's story couldn't be simpler. Even Eric Byrnes will admit that Game Four is a "must-win" for the Rockies, given that they already trail 0-3 in a best-of-7 series. Running short of starting pitchers, the Rockies send newly-activated Aaron Cook to the mound. Cook, who was the Rockies' Opening Day starter, had an 8-7 record in the regular season, but hasn't pitched since August 10. Tim Wakefield's shoulder injury forces the Sox to counter with young left Jon Lester. Lester was a phenom in the Red Sox farm system until contracting a curable form of cancer in 2006. During his 2007 rehabilitation, Lester pitched at all levels of the Red Sox system, culminating in tonight's start in Game Four of the World Series.

Update - The game is almost two innings old as I write this. Sox rookie CF Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double down the line, his fourth double in the last two games. A grounder by Pedroia moved him to third. The Rockies played their infield up, allowing David Ortiz to ground an RBI single to right. Cook averted further damage by coaxing a DP grounder from Manny Ramirez. The Rockies went down 1-2-3 in the first, as did the Sox in the second.

The Rockies are threatening in the second. Todd Helton led off with hustling double. Atkins failed to advance Helton to third. Spilborghs hit a deep fly to center, which did advance Helton, albeit with two outs. Hawpe is up as the 7th hitter. The Rockies' lineup is Matsui, Tulowitzki, Holliday, Helton, Atkins, Spilborghs, Hawpe, Torrealba and Cook. The Sox counter with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Ramirez, Lowell, Drew, Varitek, Lugo and Lester. Count is 3 and 1 to Hawpe, who has struck out a record eight times in his first three World Series games. Lester's 3-1 curve is outside. Hawpe walks. Two on and two out for Torrealba. 0 and 2 count after two pitches. Slow grounder to Lugo. Fires across to get Yorvit by a step.

Lugo leads off the Sox third with a grounder to second. Lester bats. Only 0 for 4 in his career. He chops a ball to Atkins at third. Easy second out. Ellsbury now. Reminds me of Brett Butler, who played with Braves and Dodgers in the 80s. Grounder to second. Going to bottom of 3rd with Sox up 1-0.

Cook leads off Rockies' third. Got 10 hits during the regular season. Fly ball to right. One out. Matsui next. Over Manny's head for a double. Manny took two steps in and was doomed. Big spot for Rockies. Tulowitzki up. 2 and 2. Strikes out on a slider. Holliday next. 1 and 1. Swing and miss. Now 2 and 2. Cut fastball down and in. High fastball. Swing and miss. Yuk.

Lost a half-inning to relocation from bedroom to living room. Uneventful on both counts as the Sox go down in order. Interesting story from Joe Buck on how Dustin Pedroia refers to his hitting as a nightly "laser show" and advises his teammates to "wear goggles" during his ABs.

Rockies need to get their offense going before they have to take on the Sox bullpen. Helton leads off fourth. Count is 3 and 1. Atkins and Spilborghs also due up. Grounder to second. Looping liner to Lugo for Atkins. Two outs. Okajima warming up in Sox bullpen, but with a paddle rather than a baseball--must be a preliminary phase. Full count on Spilborghs. Ball four. Two out baserunner. Not a very sharp pitch by Lester. Hawpe up. Fly ball to center. Another inning down.

Lowell leads off Sox fifth with a ringing double to left center. Drew up next. Grounder to Cook. Checks runner and goes to first. Dangerous spot. Ground ball to right field. Good throw, but just late as Lowell makes headfirst slide and touches plate with left hand. 2-0, Sox. Ground ball hit over second by Lugo. Varitek to second. Rockies' pitching coach goes to the mound. Cook stays in. Lester up to bunt. Full count. Strikes out on a bunt attempt. Ellsbury up. Count is 2 and 1. Fouled away. 2 and 2. Strikes out on slider inside. Inning over before disaster struck, but still 2-0 Sox.

Torrealba, Cook (or PH) and Matsui in 5th. Torrealba pops to Lugo. Cook bats. I would rather see a PH. He reaches on a bunt past Lester on the 1B side. Excellent bunt. Cook on with one out. Makes Hurdle look better for letting Cook bat. Matsui pops up to Lugo. Tulowitzki bats. Grounder to third. Easy force at second.

Pedroia leads off Sox 6th. Liner back to mound. Cook knocks it down and underhands to first. One out. Nice play by Cook. Ortiz bats. Grounder to Tulowitzki on 2nd base side. Two outs. Ramirez out too. Knocks off helmet and catches it on the way to first. Was looking at football scores.

Holliday out quickly in Rockies 6th. 11 outs to go. Helton lines to Ramirez in left. 10 outs to go. Lester cruising. Might even get to pitch the 7th. Ball four to Atkins. Here comes Francona. Delcarmen will take over Lester. Great line for Lester 5.2 3 0 0 3 3 on 92 pitches. Sox couldn't ask for more. Spilborghs vs. Delcarmen. 2 and 2. High fastball. Swing and miss. 9 outs left for Rockies. 2-0, Sox.

Yikes. Lowell leads off Sox 7th with line drive homer to left. 3-0 Sox. Sweep in the air. Last pitch by Aaron Cook. Affeldt in to face Drew. Strikes him out. Varitek batting right-handed. Base hit to left off Atkins' glove. Lugo hits chopper to Helton. Steps on first and tags Varitek for DP.

Country band Lonestar sings GBA. Well short of Phillip Bailey, though it may be a matter of personal taste. Had never heard of them until now, despite their 10 gold records and 10 million records sold.

Delcarmen back on for the 7th. Hawpe hits upper deck shot for a home run! 3-1. Torrealba next. 2-0 count. Fly to right near the line. Drew catches. 8 outs. Cory Sullivan next. Left-handed reserve outfielder. Line drive hit to center. Francona at mound. Timlin on to pitch. Matsui up. 1 and 1. Great sliders by Timlin. Matsui strikes out. 7 outs left. Tulowitzki next. 2 and 1 count. Rockies' fans chanting "Tulo!" 3 and 1. High fastball. Swing and miss. 6 outs to go. 3-1, Sox.

Fuentes pitching in 8th. Kielty pinch hitting. First pitch goes out of ballpark to left. 4-1 Sox. Ellsbury up next. Chopper to short. Ellsbury reaches. FOX reports that Alex Rodriguez has decided to opt out of last three years of his contract. Pedroia up now. 1 and 2 count. Now full count after two inside pitches. Nice DP by Rockies. Tulo to Matsui to Helton, who scoops a short bounce. Ortiz up. His last AB. Youkilis ready as defensive sub. Ortiz walks. Hurdle up to change pitchers. Crisp runs for Ortiz. Corpas on to pitch for Rockies. 0-2 to Ramirez. Strikes out on 1-2 pitch.

Youkilis in at first. Crisp goes to center. Ellsbury moves to left. Okajima pitching to Holliday. Only five hits for Rockies. None for Holliday yet. Jammed. Soft shot to Pedroia. Throw to first. 5 outs to go. Helton grounds a single to left. Atkins next. 3 and 1 count. Hanging pitch. 2-run homer to left by Atkins! First postseason RBIs for him since first inning of Game 1 vs. Phillies. Here comes Francona and Papelbon. 4-3 Sox. Spilborghs to bat. Homer-hitting Hawpe on deck. Ground foul past third. Close to a hit. 1 and 1. Fastball nips corner. 1 and 2. Grounder to Lugo. Backs up to take it. Fires across to Youkilis. Two outs. 4 outs to go for Sox, but lead cut to one. 0-2 count to Hawpe. Well hit ball to center, but Crisp runs it down. 3 outs left for Sox.

Lowell vs. Carpos in the Sox 9th. Off the end of the bat. Fly ball to Holliday in left. Drew up. Two hopper to Carroll at second. Two outs. Varitek up. 0 and 2. Corpas looking great. Slow grounder to Carroll. Third out.

Last chance for Rockies. Yorvit, Carroll and PH. Seth Smith likely PH for Corpas. Maybe PH for Carroll.

Strike one to Torrealba. Check swing, strike two. Grounder to second. One out. Two outs to go. Carroll will hit for himself. Only one AB in postseason. Smith on deck to bat for Corpas. Fouled off, 0-2. Fly ball to deep left. Ellsbury jumps and catches against the wall. Two outs in inning. One out to go for Sox. Seth Smith up. Fouls first pitch off. Now 1-1. Next pitch bounces. 2 and 1. Ground foul. 2 and 2. No homers for Smith as major leaguer. Papelbon blows him away with a fastball. Sox win 4-3 and sweep World Series, four games to none. MVP candidates are Papelbon and Lowell. I'll vote for Papelbon. Sox win all kinds of games--blowout in Game 1; nailbiting pitcher's in Games 2 and 4; slugging battle in Game 3. Sox win seven in a row after being down 1-3 to Cleveland.

Mike Lowell wins the MVP trophy. 1.300 OPS. Made the outstanding baserunning play of the series. Very nice interview.

Sox Rooks Rip Rocks - World Series Game Three

Red Sox rookie Jacoby Ellsbury caught this Ryan Spilborghs fly ball 415' from home plate with two Rockies on base. Oh yeah, Ellsbury chipped in with 4 hits including 3 doubles to lead the Sox to a 10-5 win over the Colorado Rockies in Game Three of the 2007 World Series. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Chris Thibodeau took this beautiful picture of Coors Field by night, the site of tonight's Game Three of the 2007 World Series. Here's a link to more of Chris's photos.

Here's a spectacular equal opportunity photo of Fenway Park in Boston, taken by Chuck Kendrick, and a link to more of Chuck's photos

October 27 Preview - The World Series scene shifts from seaside Boston to mountainous Denver for Game Three. However, much more than scenery will change. Rules and lineups will change as the non-DH National League rules take over, forcing hot-hitting Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis to the bench, DH David Ortiz to find his first baseman's mitt, and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to the plate as a hitter. Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez will try to find the left field wall which will be about 60 feet behind his normal outfielding position at Fenway Park. The Rockies go home to a stadium where they've won more than 70% of their games since June 1. Their lineup will practice addition by subtraction as DH Ryan Spilborghs (0 for 3 with 3 caught-looking K's in Game Two) goes to the bench. Rockies' fans hope that manager Clint Hurdle will change his lineup to move Troy Tulowitzki to second and drop slumping Willy Taveras to eighth.

The pitching matchup doesn't seem favor either team. Rockies starter Josh Fogg figures to give up a few runs (at least) to the potent Red Sox lineup. Red Sox starter Matsuzaka might struggle to make his breaking pitches break in the thin mile-high air. The Rockies probably would have been happier to play on Thursday, as the travel day allowed Sox bullpen aces Papelbon and Okajima (or Pape-jima as Curt Schilling calls the tandem) to rest for another long night of work. Matsuzaka hasn't lasted past the 6th inning in any postseason start.

I'll stick with my revised prediction--the Red Sox winning the Series in five games with the Rockies getting their win tonight. I'll be delayed in blogging tonight's game as my daughter's high school play starts at 7 p.m. I'll be there.

Late game update - Things looked way grim for the Rockies after a 6-run Sox third. But the Rockies' bullpen held on (for awhile) and I thought about the Yankees comeback vs. the Braves in 1996 (they got creamed in Games One and Two by the defending champs, then were down 0-6 in Game Three before Jim Leyritz hit a 3-run homer off Mark Wohlers to tie the game at six. The Yankees went on to win Game Three and the next three for the first World Championship since 1978.) A 3-run homer by Matt Holliday off Hideki Okajima brought the Rockies to within 6-5, but I'm now watching the Sox offense (especially rookies Ellsbury and Pedroia) pound lumps on Rockies' setup man Brian Fuentes. It's now 9-5 Sox. Ellsbury has four hits, including three doubles. Pedroia has three hit of his own. Julio Lugo has also had a great game with a double, a rally-starting walk in the 8th and two great plays at short. Even with a likely loss, it's good to see some life from the Rockies' offense.

Music note - Earth, Wind and Fire lead singer Philip Bailey did a sensational job on "God Bless America"; much improved over Boyz 2 Men's odd harmonic version.

Manny Delcarmen starts the 8th for the Red Sox. He gets two outs, but then Matsui singles and Tulowitzki walks. Francona calls on Papelbon to face Matt Holliday, who already has a 3-run homer off the other Sox bullpen marvel, Hideki Okajima. Holliday lined a single past Papelbon's hip in Game Two, but got picked off first immediately thereafter. No fun watching a replay of that play. Holliday has 5 HRs in postseason. High fly to left. Not far enough. Ramirez catches in front of the warning track.

The Sox add a run in the 9th. Now the Rockies have to come back from 10-5. Helton flies out to right field. Atkins next. Grounder to third. One out from 3-0 deficit for Rockies. Tough task against anyone, let alone Papelbon. Hawpe in familiar role as last man. 1 and 1 count after swing and miss. Jon Lester and Aaron Cook will pitch in Game Four. Swing for strike two on Hawpe. Going for 3rd K of night and 9th of Series. Just missed inside. 2 and 2. Hawpe triples down right field line (may be double and error on Ellsbury). A triple it is. Good for Hawpe. Torrealba next. Fast strike, 0-1. Broken bat grounder to short. Lugo to Youkilis. Sox win 10-5; lead Series 3-0. Game lasted 4 hours 19 minutes.

Sox Pitchers Look Sharp in Game Two Win

Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima looked sharp in 2.1 dominating innings as the Red Sox won Game Two of the 2007 World Series by a 2-1 score. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

October 25 Preview - Game Two - The Red Sox passed their test with an A+ last night, smashing the Rockies and their invincibility myth by 13-1. The Rockies start rookie Ubaldo Jimenez against the Red Sox postseason ace Curt Schilling. The FOX talking hairs disagree as to whether this game is a "must win" for the Rockies. I think it is. The Red Sox will have Josh Beckett going in Game Five in Denver. That game can't be played with Boston up 3-1 or the series tied 2-2. I think that a Red Sox win tonite will pave the way for a four or five game series. The Rockies didn't come close to beating Beckett in Game One. They have to beat the more mortal Curt Schilling tonite.

James Taylor sings the National Anthem. He did better than he did with the Red Sox lineup in the ALCS. Doing his regular thing now. Straightforward rendition. Struggled with one low note. Much better than the John Williams-led Boston Pops, but he had much better weather.

I hope that Clint Hurdle told his guys about the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates lost three games to the Yankees by at least 10 runs each, but won the Series in seven, the last on Bill Mazeroski's game-winning home run. On the other hand, the Sox became the first team in post-season history to score ten runs in three consecutive games.

Game Two - Taveras leads off. Rest of Rockies lineup same as last night. Fouled off and bunt foul. 0 and 2. He gets hit in the finger with a barely inside pitch. Ump might have called Taveras out for being hit with a strike. 0 and 2 on Matsui. Please, McCarver, no more on Matsuis's slam vs. the Phils, OK? He fouls a few more off. Ellsbury takes a decently hit ball on the track in front of the Monster. One out. Matt Holliday up. I hope Taveras steals second and gets this free taco thing out of the way. Taveras running on the pitch. Holliday lines a ball of Lowell's glove. Taveras scampers to third. Schilling late covering. Lowell throws ball wide of Schilling. Holliday moves to second. Hit and error. Helton up now. Needs a fly ball. 2 and 1 count. Grounder to Youkilis. RBI for Helton as Taveras scores. 1-0, Rockies. Taveras makes use of his speed. Holliday goes to third. Atkins next. 2 and 1 count. Topped grounder to third. Lowell handles and throws across. Let's see if Jimenez can hold the early lead.

Red Sox lineup read by former Sox star Dwight Evans. Very smooth. He must do broadcasting. Jamey Carroll did a nice job with the task for the Rockies. Shared a tidbit on most of the players (Atkins has lost 14 of 15 in fantasy football) Sox lineup same as last night, except Drew and Varitek reversed. Pedroia leads off with a popup. Swinging at the first pitch again, but with lesser result. Youkilis fouls one off, 1-1. Fly ball to deep center. Two outs. Ortiz up. He grounds one into the shift. Matsui fields and makes short throw to end the inning. 1-0, Rockies.

The Taco Bell "rules" commercial was cute the first time, but that's it. Now I cringe. Hawpe struck out four times last night. Clean base hit up the middle. Tulowitzki takes a splitter low. Tries to bunt for a hit. Ball hits bat in batter's box. Strike two. Fans on a splitter. First K for Schilling. Now Torrealba. Curve ball, way high and inside. Splitter topped toward short. Easy 6-3 DP for Lugo.

Ramirez grounds an early pitch sharply to third. Easy throw across. Lowell next. Grounder in the hole. Nice pickup and throw by Atkins. Now Drew. 1 and 2. Slider hits Drew in the right leg. Outside of right ankle. Hurts to watch it. Francona escorts Drew toward first. He stays in. Varitek next. One on and two out. 1 and 2 to Varitek. Fastball on outside corner. Taken for strike three. 97 mph. Great pitch.

Rockies look good thru two. Jimenez throwing strikes. Batters getting decent swings against Schilling. 1-0 lead isn't much however. 0-2 count to Spilborghs. Now 2-2 after Ryan takes a splitter low. Fastball taken for strike three. Quick 0 and 2 to Taveras. Easy grounder to third. Two outs. Matsui next. He strikes out looking. Not sure why Rockies aren't swinging at these two strike pitches.

Two quick ground outs by Ellsbury and Lugo. Four-pitch walk to Pedroia. Now Youkilis. Tough strike on inside corner. 1 and 1. Another walk. Good at bat for Youkilis. Ducked out of the way of a head high fastball. Ortiz up with two on. Shaky situation. Long drive down right field line--just foul! Whew! Ortiz fans on a check swing. Double whew!

Holliday leads off Rockies' fourth. Rips a 3-2 curve up the middle for a hit. Helton hits one to the track in deep center. One out. Atkins skies an off-speed pitch. Two outs. Hawpe pops first pitch to Lugo at short. Easy inning for Curt despite Holliday's AB and hit.

Ramirez pops up. Lowell walks. Drew up. Mean HBP on ankle in first AB. Line single to right. Lowell runs hard to third. Deep fly to center for Varitek. Sac fly and RBI. 1-1. Drew at third with two outs. Ellsbury up. Rockies worried about a bunt. 2 and 1 count. 3-1 after slow curve misses. Ball four low. Announcers worried about double steal. Ellsbury running. Line drive just foul past third. 0 and 2 on Lugo. Apodaca comes to mound to remind Jimenez how good he is. Ellsbury steals second without a throw. It's Taco Time! Curve over Lugo's head. Slider outside. Full count. Slider has Lugo fooled. Bouncer to first for third out. Game tied, 1-1.

2 and 2 to Twolowitzki. Fouls off a splitter. Fastball outside. Full count. No walks so far for Curt. There's one. Misses with a splitter. One on. Sac bunt by Torrealba. Tulowitzki to second. Spilborghs up. Quick 0-2 count. Fastball nips inside corner for strike three. Taveras grounds to Lugo. Third out. Still 1-1.

Pedroia starts the Sox fifth. 2 and 2. High bouncer to Atkins. Good throw and good stretch by Helton. Youkilis now. 3 and 1. Drive into right center. Taveras runs it down. Two outs. Ortiz up now. 1-1 after great slow curve. Now 3 and 1. Out front on curve ball. Full count. Walks on inside pitch. Fifth walk for Jimenez. Manny up now. Two good breaking balls. Both swing and miss. Fouls fastball back. Another slider. Manny lines it past third for a base hit. Lowell next with two on. Misses with two breaking balls. 2 and 0. Slider over. 2 and 1. Line drive into left field corner. Ortiz scores. Manny to third. Double for Lowell. 2-1, Sox. Jimenez out. Next is AFFELDT! to face Drew.

2-0 to Drew. Rockies need an out to keep game close. 2 and 1. Now 3 and 1. Varitek on deck. Big breaking ball for strike two. Full count. Ball four, low and outside. Bases loaded. Varitek up. New pitcher for Rockies. Matt Herges. Outside for ball one. Critical AB of game so far. Fouled away. 1 and 1. Fastball high, 2 and 1. High fly to left. Easy for Holliday. Doesn't have to move. Whew again.

Matsui leads off Rockies' sixth. Fouled off the ump's mask. 1 and 2. Pop up to Lugo. Red Sox backup Royce Clayton told Jacoby Ellsbury to steal the taco base. Holliday lines a single to left. His third hit of the game. Taco Bell CEO does a live commercial disguised thinly as an interview. McCarver cleverly notes the segue from shilling to Schilling. 92 mph for Schilling on last fastball. 2 and 2 to Helton. Outside. Full count. Fouled back. Ball four high. Second and first for Atkins. New pitcher for Sox. Good outing for Schilling, especially if Okajima gets out of this inning. So far 5.1 4 1 1 2 4. Atkins up against Okajima. Righties hitting .182 against Okajima. 2 and 1 count. Grounder to first. Youkilis takes it. Runners advance to second and third with two outs. Hawpe next. Swings at one that bounces. 0 and 1. Fastball on inside corner. 0 and 2. Same pitch. Swing and miss. That's it for the Rockies' sixth. 2-1, Sox.

Ellsbury hits a low changeup up the middle for a base hit to lead off the Sox sixth. Lugo shows bunt. No steal yet for Ellsbury. Bunt back to Herges. Thinks about second, but throws to first. 1 and 2 to Pedroia. High curve. Big swing and foul by Pedroia. Count 2 and 2. Grounder to short. Tulowitzki throws across. Ellsbury goes to third. Youkilis up now. Most fans said Francona should sit Ortiz in Denver. I think Francona should play him at 1B vs. righthander. Too big a threat to take out of the lineup in a hitter's ballpark. 0-2 to Youkilis. Fogg and Matsuzaka will pitch Game Three. Rockies' offense needs to come to life. Right now they need to get Youkilis. Count goes full. Typical for Youkilis. Foul tip not caught. Count remains full. Ball ripped foul down third base line. Runner, coach and fans looking for cover from Youkilis' foul balls. Curve wide. Ball four. Ortiz up. Fuentes will pitch to him. Big job. End of bat fly ball to center. Taveras corrals. Whew. . . this is getting stressful and a little monotonous.

Okajima pitches to Tulowitzki. Pop up to right. One out. Torrealba next. Two hopper to short. Two outs. Now Spilborghs. 2 and 1 count. Curve on inside corner. 2 and 2. Fastball on inside corner. Strike three! Weak inning for Rockies. Down to last six outs. Fabulous pitching by Okajima. He might pitch the 8th and leave just one inning for Papelbon.

Fuentes pitches to Ramirez to start the 8th. 1 and 1. Now 2 and 2 after a 93 mph fastball fouled off. Grounder to Tulowitzki. One out. Lowell hits easy fly to right. Two outs. Drew up. Swing and miss on slider. Line single to right. Another hit for Drew. Drew on four times tonight. Varitek up. Changeup over for 1 and 1. Same pitch. Swing and miss. Fastball, swing and miss for strike three. On to the 8th.

Okajima is back for the 8th. Taveras cup. 0 and 2 count. Strike three on inside corner. Strike one to Matsui. Count 2 and 1. Ramirez in left--no defensive sub. Curve over. 2 and 2. Another curve. Fouled off. Fastball away. Full count. Blows fastball past swinging Matsui. Fabulous performance by Okajima. Seven batters. Seven outs. Four strikeouts. Deserved a curtain call.

Papelbon on to pitch to Holliday. Great matchup. Matt has three of Rockies' four hits tonight. 96 mph at the knees. Strike one. Fastball up and in. Swing and miss. 0 and 2. Fastball down the middle. Liner past Papelbon. Almost hit him. Pedroia dives but can't corral it. Pedroia turned left wrist over, but says he's OK. Helton next. Holliday picked off first by three feet. Ugh!

Ellsbury vs. Fuentes to start the Sox 8th. High fly to center. Taveras takes. Lugo tries to bunt for a hit. Ball bounces up and hits him on the way to first. He's out. Two outs. Corpas comes in to pitch to Pedroia. Lines 2-0 pitch to right for a hit. 1 and 2 to Youkilis. Worried here. No need. Easy grounder to second for third out on fielder's choice.

Helton back to lead off the 9th. Holliday will feel better if Helton makes out. Swing and miss, 1 and 2. Next one misses, 2 and 2. Fastball fouled back. Fastball 98 mph on outside. Swing and miss. One out. Atkins now. First pitch slightly outside. Ball one. Slider fooled everyone, including the umpire. 1 and 1. Liner to Ellsbury in center. He takes it. Two outs. Hawpe is last man. Five strikeouts in last two games. 29 HRs in regular season. Fouled back for strike one. 97 mph, blown past swinging Hawpe. 0 and 2. Crowd going crazy. Splitter low. 1 and 2. Fastball down the middle at 97. Swing and miss. Game by 2-1 score and 2-0 lead for Red Sox. Very impressive pitching by entire Sox staff. Five measly singles for the Rockies.

2007 World Series - Sox Rock Game One

David Ortiz and Julio Lugo celebrate a Red Sox run in the 4th inning, a scene repeated often in Boston's 13-1 trouncing of the Colorado Rockies in Game One of the 2007 World Series. (Kathy Willens/AP)

2007 World Series Preview - Perhaps a bit awestruck by their first view of the Green Monster, the Colorado Rockies put their late-season hot streak to its biggest test tonight in Fenway Park as they take on the American League champion and 2-1 favorite Boston Red Sox in Game One of the World Series. Lefthander Jeff Francis will start for the Rockies. ALCS MVP Josh Beckett will take the mound for the Red Sox.

Game One is always important, but seems especially critical in this series. A Colorado win will keep their 21-of-22 win mystique alive. It will also shift the home field advantage to the Rockies and beat heretofore unbeatable playoff pitcher Josh Beckett in one of his two Series starts. For the Red Sox, a win would break the Rockies' spell, remind the Rockies of their relative inexperience, and reinforce the Red Sox favorites role.

On full rest, Beckett has to be the favorite in the pitching matchup. He's pitched two dominating games in the postseason--a complete game 4-hitter vs. the Angels and 8-innings of 1-run, 11-strikeout ball vs. the Indians in the series-saving Game Five. Francis has pitched much better than his regular season level in two wins over the Phillies and Diamondbacks.

In the last three games against the Indians, the Red Sox sent the sobering message that their entire offense was ready to contribute--J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia, who had done little up 'til then, were the offensive stars of Games Six and Seven. Jacoby Ellsbury subbed for slumping CF Coco Crisp and helped the offense. Production up and down the lineup has been a hallmark of the Rockies' offense. They'll have to keep it up to compete with the Sox.


Catcher - Jason Varitek vs. Yorbit Torrealba - Varitek is the veteran captain of the Red Sox, but he slumped offensively in the AL playoffs. Torrealba isn't as young as he plays, but his bat was alive in the NL playoffs. Even.

First Base - Kevin Youkilis vs. Todd Helton - Very similar players--great batting eye, some power, good glove. Youkilis is much earlier in this career and was very hot coming out of the ALCS. Even.

Second Base - Dustin Pedroia vs. Kaz Matsui - Pedroia is a rookie. Matsui revived his shaky U.S. career. Matsui has a little more speed. Even.

Shortstop - Julio Lugo vs. Troy Tulowitzki - Lugo has contributed little on offense and been shaky on defense. Rookie Tulowitzki plays by a young Cal Ripken - Advantage Rockies

Third Base - Mike Lowell vs Garrett Atkins- Lowell is a veteran with prior World Series experience. He had a great year and a good post season. Atkins is a younger version of Lowell. Slight advantage Sox

Left Field - Manny Ramirez vs. Matt Holliday - 2004 World Series MVP and likely 2007 NL MVP. Again, very similar players. Ramirez is more selective at the plate. Holliday hustles a lot more. Even.

Center Field - Coco Crisp / Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Willie Taveras - Crisp and Taveras are very similar players - speedy singles hitters. I don't know that much about Ellsbury other than Red Sox fans are very high on him. Even.

Right Field - J.D. Drew vs. Brad Hawpe - Hawpe hit much better than Drew in the regular season. Drew showed signs of life late in the Indians series. Advantage Rockies.

DH - Sox have DH nonpareil in David Ortiz. Rockies have several far less satisfactory options. Big advantage Red Sox.

Starting Pitchers - Beckett, Schilling, Matsuzaka and ? vs. Francis, Jimenez, Cook and Fogg. Beckett has been the best pitcher in the postseason. Schilling had two strong starts and brings a world of World Series experience to the mound. Matsuzaka has lots of talent, but seems a little tired from the long season. The Rockies pitchers together probably don't have as many career starts as Schilling has wins. Big advantage (on paper) for Sox.

Relief Pitchers - Both teams have well-organized bullpens with talented pitchers. The Sox have Jonathan Papelbon to close, and Hideki Okajima to pitch in front of him, backed up by veteran Mike Timlin. The Rockies' closer is Manuel Corpas, who was almost unhittable in the second half. Lefty Brian Fuentes is a former closer and solid set-up man. Righty Matt Herges brings excellent stuff to the seventh inning or earlier. Slight advantage Red Sox.

Bench - Neither team makes much use of their bench. Bobby Kielty plays some RF for the Sox. Ryan Spilborghs is a contributor in the Rockies' outfield. During non-DH games, the Sox will have a great pinch-hitting option--probably Kevin Youkilis, as David Ortiz will be in the field at first base. Slight, but probably insignificant advantage Red Sox.

Defense - The Rockies were the top fielding team in the National League. They've made essentially no defensive errors in the postseason. The Red Sox usually hit their way past their defensive lapses. Advantage Rockies.

Manager - Terry Francona has a World Series ring and a computer. Clint Hurdle has the unquestioned loyalty of his players. I'm not sure which is worth more. Even.

Fans - Both teams have fanatical followings. The Red Sox Nation fans watching on TV won't be able to add to the noise in Fenway. Even.

In Game One, I'd have to favor the Sox based on Beckett's recent performance, and on the eight-day layoff that could blunt the Rockies' momentum.

Overall my pick(s) are:

Head Pick - Red Sox - a solid team in all respects, the pick over another solid team with much less postseason experience.

Heart Pick - Rockies - no hard feelings for beating the Phils. With their "Nation", the Red Sox have enough fans without me.

Gut Pick - Rockies - they seem like the team of destiny

Money Pick - With 2-1 odds, the Rockies. At even money, the Sox. The Red Sox should win in 6 or 7 games.

Pregame Notes -- FOX features the hair team in their pregame booth--big-haired female lead Jeannie Zelasko, curly, apparently unkempt (but probably coiffed) Eric Byrnes (who now believes that the Rockies are good after denying this reality while the D-Backs were still alive), Eric "Mr. Pompadour" Karros, and Kevin Kennedy, who with his boring haircut and mustache, represents the middle-aged males who no doubt dominate the viewer demographics.

John Williams' arrangement of the National Anthem seemed to be dampened by the drizzling rain. The Red Sox displayed a geometrically-modified American flag across the Green Monster--about four rows of 12 or 13 stars each. It all seemed a little out of synch for Game One of the World Series.

Game Notes - Rockies lineup is Taveras, Matsui, Holliday, Helton, Atkins, Hawpe, Tulowitzki, Torrealba and Spilborghs (DH).

Taveras strikes out looking on a pitch that looked a couple inches outside. 2-0 to Matsui. Beckett's fastball at 97 mph. Now 3-0 to Kaz. Holliday on deck. Taking strike one. Two foul pops. 3 and 2. Strike three swinging. Overmatched. Fastball up and in to Holliday. Foul tip. 1 and 2. Waves at outside fastball. Beckett strikes out the side.

Red Sox lineup - Pedroia, Youkilis, Ramirez, Ortiz, Lowell, Varitek, Drew, Lugo, Ellsbury. Yaz reads the Red Sox lineup. A very nice touch. Looks good at age 68. Pedroia up. First pitch fastball. He hits the top of the Monster. Home run. 1-0, Sox. 1 and 1 to Youkilis. That might break the Rockies' spell right there. Line drive to right center. Gapper double for Youkilis. Ortiz bunts first pitch into the seats. 1 and 2 to Ortiz. Grounder to first. Youkilis to third. Manny up. Rockies infield in. Manny strokes first pitch on line to left for RBI hit. 2-0, Sox. Lowell up. 3-0 count. Rain coming down. Low pitch called strike at knees. High fly to right center. Taveras takes it. Big strike zone for Montague. 1-2 count for Varitek. High fastball. Ground single to left for Varitek. Drew up with two on. Line drive double to right. Ramirez scores. Varitek does U-turn between third and home. 3-0 Sox. Lugo now. 1 and 2 count. Weak grounder down third base line. Atkins fields and makes nice one hop throw to first that Helton handles. Still, 3-0 is a big hole.

Pedroia was first-ever rookie to lead off a World Series game with a home run. 1-1 to Helton. Still no balls in play for Rockies. Changeup curve over, 1-2. Fastball swinging strike three. Looked uberfast after that changeup--was about 20 mph faster. Curve to Atkins. High fly off top of the Monster for a double. Hawpe next. Takes a fastball for strike three. Bad omen there. Hawpe is a sweet-swinging lefty who should have had a chance. Now Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki whacks a fastball low off the Monster. Double and RBI. 3-1, Sox. First fastball put in play by Rocks. Torrealba next. Broken bat one hopper to Lugo. Third out.

Ellsbury starts Sox 2nd. 2 and 1. Francis comes back to get the K looking. Pedroia next. STATS, Inc. reports that Beckett/Pedroia (3 K's followed by HR) parlay was first in World Series history. He grounds out. Youkilis has 1-2 count. Draws a walk. Ortiz up with one on. Liner over shortstop. Ball rolls to the wall. Youkilis hustling all the way. Scores on a slide. Double and RBI for Ortiz. 4-1, Sox. Manny gets intentional walk. Lowell up with 2 on. Another key moment. Lots of extra base hits off Francis in just two innings. Jammed him with a fastball. Pop that Matsui gloves. 4-1 Sox after two.

Spilborghs leads off the Rockies third. 3 and 0 count. All high fastballs. Liner right at Pedroia. One out. Taveras up. Lowell playing in very close. Taveras skies it to left. Manny drifts over and makes catch in webbing of glove. Two outs with Matsui up. Pop up to Lugo. 4-1, Sox as they come up in 3rd. Heavier rain expected. We'll see what the limits are.

Francis strikes out Varitek to start the 3rd. Drew hits two-hopper to Helton. Two outs. Lugo now. Hit the ball that Atkins and Helton played so well. 2 and 1 count. Lugo bunts. Ball gets under Atkins' bare hand. Not sure if Atkins gets Lugo if he fields the ball.

Drinking Labatt's Blue (Canadian beer) to encourage Rockies' Canadian starter Jeff Francis. Ellsbury grounds to second to end the inning.

Holliday leads off Rockies' 4th. Rain increasing. Curve grounded to third. Lowell handles and throws across. One out. Helton lofts a fly to left off the Monster and cruises into second. Atkins next. 2 and 2 count. Big curve. Swing and miss for strike three. 77 mph. Atkins nowhere near. Six strikeouts in 3.2 innings for Beckett. Now Hawpe. Three pitches, three strikes. Great curve in the middle of that.

Pedroia grounds to Tulowitzki's left. Fields and fires. One out. Youkilis now. Short trip thru minors for Tulo--only 126 games. Matsui takes pop in foul territory. Ortiz misses a Francis changeup. Now 2-2. Line single to left. One on and two outs. Ramirez up. 3 and 1 to him. He won't swing at a bad pitch. Takes 3-1 strike. Line drive double to right center. Taveras tracks it down. Ortiz chugs to third. Intentional walk to Lowell. Bases loaded. Franklin Morales throwing in Rockies' pen. Varitek up. 2-0 count. Very pregnant situation. Sox rhythm section in bullpen. Next pitch just catches bottom of strike zone. 2 and 1. Line drive on left field line. Snagged by fan. Two runs score, 6-1 Sox. Francis still pitching to Drew. Ugly pitching line for Francis. 5 extra base hits so far. 1-2 count. Drew fans on a slow curve.

Did I mention Francis' pitching line? 4 10 6 6 3 3. Ugh. By comparison, Beckett's is 4 3 1 1 0 7. Lugo throws out Tulowitzki. Torrealba next. Called strike three on a curve. 8 K's for Beckett. Now Spilborghs. Quick 0-2. Close call on 2 and 2. 3-2 pitch is high. First walk of night. 3 and 1 to Taveras. First "wild" spell for Beckett. Matsui on deck. Swing and a foul. Full count. Pitiful pop to second. Pedroia takes it.

Morales relieves Francis in the 5th. Lugo leads off. 3 and 1 count. Line single through the middle. The beat goes on. Ellsbury shows bunt. Does bunt. Morales throw a laser beam to Tulo at second for the out. Big swing by Pedroia produces a pop up. Two outs. Balk on Morales. Didn't step toward first. Ellsbury moves to second. Youkilis up. Offspeed pitch. Lined into left field corner for a double and RBI. 7-1, Sox. Ortiz next. Line drive straight over second. Rolls close to 420 sign. Youkilis strolls home. Ortiz takes second. 8-1. Trademark hit over Tulo. RBI, 9-1 Sox. Lowell gets his double. Runners on 3rd and 2nd. Nine extra base hits for the Sox. Ties World Series record in the fifth inning. Varitek up. 3 and 1 count. 15 hits overall for Sox. Ball four. Bases loaded for Drew. 2 and 1 count. Just misses. 3 and 1. Speier ready to pitch to Lugo. Grounder up the middle. Tulo knocks it down but can't make a play. 10-1, Sox.

Ice cream break. Sorry I missed all the "action" as Speier walked his only three batters. It's now 13-1 Sox with a new pitcher coming in. All but one batter in the Red Sox lineup have RBIs. Pedroia and Youkilis (at least) will bat five times in five innings. Herges on to pitch. He pops up Youkilis to bring about the merciful ending. 7 runs on 6 hits for Sox in 5th. 16 hits and 7 walks for Sox in total through five innings. Morales ERA for his work is 94.50.

Beckett working in the 6th. Good pickup by Youkilis. Matsui beats Beckett to the bag. Infield hit. Holliday up. Easy 4-6-3 DP on line drive one-hopper to Pedroia. Helton lines a hit through the middle. On one and two outs. 77 pitches so far for Beckett. Atkins skies to right. Drew takes it. Still 13-1 Sox.

No free tacos tonite. A Taco Bell promotion promises a free taco for everyone after the first stolen base of the series. Not going to happen in a 13-1 game. Ramirez flies to right for the second out. Good night for Manny--3 for 4 with 3 runs and 2 RBIs. Manny hitting about .450 in the postseason. Two outs with Lowell up. He walks. Joe Buck tells us that actor Paul Giamatti is son of late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. Varitek fans. On to the 7th.

Surprising to see Beckett in the 7th. Sailing along. Strikes out Hawpe. His 9th. Double for Tulowitzki down left field line. Grounder to short. Tulo moves to third.

We're in the 9th. Twelve run lead allows Francona to send Gagne to the mound. He gets the first out on a fly to center. Other subs in for Sox. Cora at short. If Gagne holds 12-run lead, it will be the largest Game One margin in World Series history. The '59 White Sox and '96 Braves each won by 11. Both teams lost the Series. Hawpe is last "hope" for Rockies. Two strikes. Sox fans stay the night--past midnight now. Standing for last strike. Cold, rainy night and big early lead didn't encourage many to leave early. Strike three. Ball game. Final score, Red Sox 13, Rockies 1. Red Sox lead series one game to none.


LiamJudd said...

RE: Game 3 on Oct 27, 2007: Curious to find out if anyone knows: why didn't Colorado use Herges again in the 8th after his 1-2-3 7th? Fuentes did a terrible job in the 8th and it didn't make sense to me that they didn't keep Herges in there. Any idea?

dadlak said...

Most major league bullpens have an established heirarchy. One pitcher for the 7th, another for the 8th, the "closer" for the 9th. Fuentes is the 8th inning guy for the Rockies. He'd pitched very well in the postseason for the Rockies until last night. There was no reason for Hurdle to deviate from his regular plan. His bullpen had Friday night off, so they were well-rested. Herges did a great job in the 7th. I'm sure he didn't expect to the pitch the 8th.

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