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2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox
October 22nd, 2007

(Sports Network) - The Colorado Rockies will try and continue one of the most impressive runs in recent memory when they open the 103rd edition of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Colorado has incredibly won 21 of their last 22 games to get to this point and enters the Fall Classic as the first team to ever sweep not only the division series, but the League Championship Series as well.

However, you would have had a hard time convincing people in early September that the Rockies would be in this position, as they found themselves as many as six games out of a playoff spot and were 4 1/2 games back of the wild card with nine games to play. However, they ripped off 13 wins in their final 14 contests of the regular season and forced a one-game playoff with the San Diego Padres to determine the NL wild card that they won with three runs in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Their amazing streak carried into the postseason, as the Rockies swept the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS and rolled over the NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks to claim their first NL pennant. The Rockies have been behind after only four of the 65 innings they've played in the playoffs.

But because of the sweep against the Diamondbacks, the Rockies have not played since October 15. Last year the Detroit Tigers were in a similar position with six days of rest entering the World Series and never really got it going against St. Louis, falling in five games to the Cardinals.

What has been so remarkable is how Colorado is winning. Known primarily for their bats, it has been the Rockies pitching that has carried them here in the postseason, as they have pitched to a playoff-best 2.08 earned run average.

Jeff Francis has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the NL in these playoffs, going 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA. A pair of rookies have also held their own in Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Rockies rotation could get a boost with the return of Opening Day starter Aaron Cook, who has been sidelined since early August with an oblique strain. He was eligible to return for the NLCS, but the Rockies opted to leave him off the roster.

Colorado's offense is led by MVP candidate Matt Holliday, who led the NL in hitting, as well as RBI this season. After a so-so division series, Holliday turned it on in the NLCS, batting .333 with a pair of home runs and four RBI to earn MVP honors.

First baseman Todd Helton had to wait 1,578 games to finally get to the postseason, but has struggled mightily thus far. He has just four hits in 26 at-bats and has knocked in only one run.

Another player that has to get going for the Rockies is rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. After hitting .291 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI in the season, Tulowitzki is batting just .179 in the postseason with a homer and two RBI.

Boston, meanwhile, lived up to its huge expectations entering the season and ended the New York Yankees nearly decade long stranglehold on the American League East, winning its first division title since 1995.

After sweeping the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALDS, the Red Sox had to overcome a 3-1 deficit to beat the AL Central champion Cleveland Indians in seven games to claim their second AL pennant in four years.

Boston also rallied from a 3-0 hole to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS on its way to its first title since 1918.

The Red Sox were paced by AL Cy Young Award candidate Josh Beckett, who was 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA this season. Beckett has been even better since the start of the postseason, going a perfect 3-0 with a sparkling 1.17 ERA in his three starts and was named the ALCS MVP.

Beckett, who was the World Series MVP in 2003 while with the Florida Marlins, has been incredible in the playoffs over the course of his young career. In nine postseason games, Beckett is 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA.

Of course, Boston's lineup is fueled by Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Ramirez, who took some heat for comments he made against the Indians, is hitting .400 this postseason with four home runs and 14 RBI. Ortiz is batting .387 with three homers.

Ortiz will have to bring his glove with him, as he will likely get three starts at first base in Colorado. It will be interesting to see how his achy knees respond to that and Terry Francona might actually opt to sit him a game in Denver.

While Colorado will be playing in its first-ever Fall Classic, Boston will be trying for its seventh title and will be appearing in its 10th World Series.

These teams actually met during the season, as Colorado took two out of three from the Red Sox at Fenway in June. Colorado outscored Boston 20-5, dropping the first game 2-1 before winning the next two, 12-2 and 7-1. The finale of that set saw Beckett get his first loss of the season.

If Colorado has any chance of making this a series it will have to jump on Beckett, as it did in that series in June, right away in Game 1. There is an air of invincibility around him right now and the Rockies need to knock him off his pedestal. If Colorado does win this series it will be in five games, because, as Cleveland just found out, the Rockies are going to have an extremely difficult time putting the Red Sox away in Fenway.

The long layoff is going to hurt the Rockies. As much as they will deny it, there is no way they wanted to sit this long after being so hot. I can't see the Rockies pitching as well as they did in the previous two series and that will be the difference here. Unfortunately for fans in Colorado the magical run is going to come to a close. Boston just has too much firepower in its offense and has a decided advantage on the mound.

Prediction: RED SOX IN SIX

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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

A position-by-position look at how the Rockies and Red Sox match up

A position-by-position look at the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox going into the World Series, starting Wednesday night at Fenway Park:

First Base

Rockies: Todd Helton. Nobody has enjoyed Colorado's incredible charge to the NL pennant more than Helton, a longtime star who waited 11 years and 1,578 games to reach the postseason. No longer the home run threat he once was, Helton still has gap-to-gap pop and a sharp eye. He batted .320 this year and finished second in the league with a .434 on-base percentage. He slumped through the playoffs, however, batting .154 with one extra-base hit.

Red Sox: Kevin Youkilis. Often overshadowed by Boston's big names, fan favorite "Yooook" is one of the most underrated players in baseball. He's coming off a huge AL championship series against Cleveland, when he batted .500 (14-for-28) with three homers, a double, a triple, five walks and seven RBIs. He's hitting .425 in the postseason overall, and he has a reliable glove. The teams will play without a designated hitter when the Series shifts to Colorado, a dilemma for the Red Sox. They won't want to take David Ortiz out of the lineup, but he's played only 27 games at first the past three years. If he plays the field, that could put Youkilis on the bench.

Edge: Red Sox.

Second Base

Kaz Matsui. Cast off by the New York Mets after he was a major bust on Broadway, Matsui was rescued by the Rockies last season in a quiet trade. Now, he's a switch-hitting threat with speed who often bats second in the lineup. Matsui hit a key grand slam in the first round of the playoffs at Philadelphia and is batting .310 with eight RBIs and two triples in the postseason.

Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia. A leading contender for AL Rookie of the Year, Pedroia is a mighty mite who takes a huge hack at the plate. The leadoff batter homered and drove in five runs during Game 7 of the ALCS, helping Boston complete its comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.

Edge: Red Sox.


Rockies: T
roy Tulowitzki. Outstanding defense _ he turned an unassisted triple play _ and a dangerous bat made Tulowitzki a co-favorite for NL Rookie of the Year along with Milwaukee third baseman Ryan Braun. Already a leader in the clubhouse for the wild-card Rockies, Tulowitzki knows what it takes to win. Still, he batted only .179 (5-for-28) in the playoffs.

Red Sox:
Julio Lugo. Signed to a $36 million, four-year contract before this season, Lugo struggled at the plate during his first year in Boston. But he can run, and the high-scoring Red Sox rely on his glove more than his offense anyway.

Edge: Rockies.

Third Base

Garrett Atkins. A good all-around hitter. Stuck in a slump the first two months of the season, Atkins was benched for two days before tweaking his stance and rediscovering his stroke. He went on a tear the rest of the way, including a grand slam at Fenway Park, finishing the year with a .301 batting average, 25 homers and 111 RBIs. He struggled in the playoffs, however, going 5-for-27 (.185).

Red Sox: Mike Lowell. Some consider the steady Lowell to be the most important cog in Boston's powerful lineup because he bats fifth, protecting Ortiz and fellow bopper Manny Ramirez. Lowell had an excellent season, hitting .324 with 120 RBIs. Then he batted .333 with a homer and 11 RBIs in the playoffs. Good glove, too.

Edge: Red Sox, barely.


Yorvit Torrealba. An unsung but important component on this team, Torrealba draws praise for expertly grooming Colorado's no-name pitchers and handling the young staff. His bat has come on in October, too. He hit .320 with a clutch homer and seven RBIs in the playoffs.

Red Sox: Jason Varitek. One of the most respected leaders in baseball, Varitek is Boston's no-nonsense captain. He helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, ending an 86-year title drought, and is still productive at 35 years old. Playing his 11th season in Boston, he batted .243 with a homer and five RBIs in the playoffs. Doug Mirabelli catches knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Edge: Red Sox.

Left Field

Matt Holliday. One of the best hitters in the game, Holliday is a top contender for NL MVP _ he might have wrapped it with that headfirst dive at home plate that won the wild-card tiebreaker against San Diego. He led the league in batting (.340) and RBIs (137) while ranking high in several other major categories. He's off to a strong start in his first postseason with four homers and seven RBIs. Holliday was the NLCS MVP after leading Colorado to a four-game sweep of Arizona.

Red Sox: Manny Ramirez. A mysterious slugger with Hall of Fame hitting credentials, Ramirez makes people shake their heads with his on-the-field antics and rare, curious comments from the clubhouse _ he said, "Who cares?" during the ALCS, but clearly he did. He's been on a tear since returning from an injured side muscle late in the regular season. He batted .400 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and 14 walks in the playoffs, and he holds the postseason record with 24 career homers.

Edge: Red Sox. Ramirez's past success in October gives him a close nod.

Center Field

Willy Taveras. A speedy leadoff hitter with great range in center, Taveras also went to the 2005 World Series during his rookie season with Houston _ and played well. After a thigh injury sidelined him for the final three weeks of the regular season, he returned for the NLCS and made some key contributions, including a diving catch to save a key run in Game 2.

Red Sox:
Jacoby Ellsbury. The poised and pesky rookie started in place of slumping Coco Crisp in the final two games of the ALCS and held his own. It's hard to imagine the Red Sox messing with success now, so the speedy Ellsbury could make a name for himself in the Series. He batted .353 in only 116 big league at-bats this season and went 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts.

Edge: Rockies.

Right Field

Brad Hawpe. A quiet but consistent producer, Hawpe has knocked in 200 runs over the past two seasons with his smooth left-handed swing. He also boasts a strong arm that deters baserunners. Hawpe, who sometimes struggles against left-handed pitchers, batted .304 without an extra-base hit in the playoffs.

Red Sox: J.D. Drew. After signing a $70 million, five-year contract in the offseason, Drew was a bust for most of his first season in Boston. But he delivered a huge performance when it counted in the ALCS, hitting a first-inning grand slam and driving in five runs during Game 6 at Fenway Park. Bobby Kielty occasionally starts in right against lefties.

Edge: Even.

Designated Hitter

Ryan Spilborghs. A hard-nosed player who was called up from the minors in May, Spilborghs was a pleasant surprise all season. He subbed in center while Taveras was hurt and hit .356 against lefties with more power than expected. Spilborghs, Jeff Baker and Seth Smith are Colorado's likely options at DH in Boston.

Red Sox: David Ortiz. One of the best clutch hitters in baseball history, Ortiz is at it again this October. He batted .387 with three homers, six RBIs and 12 walks in the playoffs for a .543 on-base percentage. Might be interesting to see how he runs the bases in the mile-high altitude at Coors Field.

Edge: Red Sox.

Starting Pitchers

A surprising success, Colorado's rotation is made up of rookies and unheralded arms behind Jeff Francis, the team's homegrown ace. The 26-year-old lefty has delivered like a champion in October, going 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two playoff starts. He'll get the ball opposite Josh Beckett in Game 1 at Fenway Park, where Francis pitched five shutout innings to beat Beckett in June. After that, the Rockies turn to hard-throwing rookie Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a 1.59 ERA in two playoff starts. Josh Fogg figures to get a start _ he's 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the postseason. The other assignment probably will go to rookie left-hander Franklin Morales or veteran Aaron Cook, out since Aug. 10 with a strained muscle on his side. Cook was the club's opening-day starter.

Red Sox: Pitching has been Boston's biggest strength all season, and the playoffs were no exception. The Red Sox boast a daunting 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in Beckett and Curt Schilling, two of the best pressure pitchers in baseball history. Beckett won 20 games during the regular season, then went 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in the playoffs and won the ALCS MVP. He is 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA in his postseason career _ with three shutouts in eight starts. The 40-year-old Schilling doesn't throw as hard as he used to, but he knows how to attack hitters and he's always at his best in big games. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in three playoff outings and is 10-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 18 career postseason starts. Daisuke Matsuzaka, the $103 million rookie from Japan, flopped in his first two playoff starts before tossing five solid innings to beat Cleveland in Game 7. Tim Wakefield came back from a shoulder problem and returned to the rotation in the ALCS. He got off to a strong start in Game 4 against the Indians, then faltered in the fifth and took the loss.

Edge: Red Sox.

Relief Pitchers

Another surprising strength, Colorado's bullpen had a 1.60 ERA in the playoffs, allowing five runs in 28 innings. There aren't many big names out there, but they've been extremely effective. Manny Corpas took over the closer's job from struggling All-Star Brian Fuentes at midseason and has done an outstanding job. Opponents batted .167 (5-for-30) against Corpas in the playoffs and his five saves are the most by a closer in the postseason since 2003, when Mariano Rivera saved five games for the Yankees. Fuentes has bounced back as a strong setup man with his unusual left-handed delivery. Even journeymen LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Herges have been solid, combining for 6 2-3 scoreless innings in the postseason. Jeremy Affeldt has been a reliable left-handed specialist, appearing in 75 games during the regular season.

Red Sox: There's plenty of balance in Boston's bullpen, which features hard-throwing closer Jonathan Papelbon and left-handed setup man Hideki Okajima. Those two plus right-hander Mike Timlin have combined for 17 shutout innings this postseason. Eric Gagne, the 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner, was acquired from Texas at the trade deadline in a much-ballyhooed deal that hasn't worked out at all. He rarely pitches in tight situations anymore, and he took the loss in Game 2 against Cleveland. Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez struggled in the playoffs after solid seasons.

Edge: Red Sox.


Colorado has a typical bench for a National League team, featuring a handful of versatile players who can run and play defense. There's not much power, though, other than Baker. His tiebreaking single as a pinch-hitter helped the Rockies complete a first-round sweep of Philadelphia. Smith was added to the postseason roster after getting five hits in only eight big league at-bats this year. A left-handed bat, he came through with a couple of soft hits at key moments in the playoffs. Jamey Carroll often replaces Atkins for late-inning defense at third. Cory Sullivan is a backup outfielder.

Red Sox:
Some of Boston's backups get spot starts _ even in October. Kielty, Mirabelli and Ellsbury have all seen playing time this postseason. Kielty is a switch-hitter who was signed in early August after he was released by Oakland. Eric Hinske is a left-handed stick off the bench, but he had only one at-bat in the playoffs. Reserve infielder Alex Cora, a slick fielder, hasn't come to the plate in the postseason. He could be used as a pinch-runner. If Youkilis or Drew wind up on the pine at some point, it gives the Red Sox a major weapon off the bench. Boston's bench is more experienced _ and expensive _ than Colorado's unit.

Edge: Red Sox.


Clint Hurdle. The Rockies remained patient with Hurdle, who had a losing record in each of his first five years before getting a surprising contract extension just before this season started. It proved to be a smart move. Well-liked and respected in the clubhouse, Hurdle had the perfect touch as the young Rockies matured into a winning team this summer. Now, they've won 10 straight games and 21 of 22 heading into the World Series. He goes with his gut on certain decisions, and he's done a fine job handling a no-name pitching staff. Hurdle definitely knows his team _ even if nobody else does.

Red Sox: Terry Francona. A familiar face in October after leading Boston to two pennants and three playoff appearances in four years at the helm. Francona has become adept at handling the tough Boston media in a town where every minor move is scrutinized. He shrugs off criticism and sticks to his plan, trusting his players to perform. And his teams never quit _ especially in the postseason. Francona's experience in guiding the Red Sox to the 2004 title should be an asset here. He has a relentless lineup and a back end of the bullpen that any manager would envy. But he has some tough decisions on tap, especially without a DH in Colorado.

Edge: Red Sox.

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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

World Series preview and pick: Rockies vs. Red Sox

The Fall Classic is finally here.

Both the Rockies and Red Sox have powerful offenses, sharp pitching staffs and incredible defenses. But which team has the ultimate edge in this best-of-seven series?

The World Series begins Wednesday in Boston’s Fenway Park and MLB analyst Jason Logan has the tale of the tape for one of the most compelling showdowns in years.


The Rockies are usually known for smashing the ball but they have mixed up the offense with some good ol’ fashion National League small ball this postseason. Colorado is occasionally playing the hit-and-run and staying aggressive on the base paths while also relying on timely hitting from some surprising outlets.

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba and shortstop Kazuo Matsui are providing life at the top and bottom on the order. The middle of the Rockies lineup is struggling after hitting just .209 in the postseason. However, NLCS MVP Matt Holliday is heating up, knocking four hits in the last two games – two of those for home runs.

Boston was the opposite of Colorado for most of October. The Red Sox rode David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell (hitting a combined .371 batting average) and wasn’t getting much from the top and bottom of the order. But after going down 3-1 to Cleveland, the BoSox hit a team .380 and outscored the Tribe 30-5 in the final three games.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, first baseman Kevin Youkilis and right fielder J.D. Drew are finally putting in their two cents at the plate. Catcher and team captain Jason Varitek is also find his stroke after struggling most of the playoffs.

Edge: If Boston hits like it did the last three games, Colorado has a tall task ahead to match that firepower – especially if the extended layoff hurts the Rockies’ timing at the plate.


Colorado’s pitching continues to go against the grain after an average regular season. The team has an ERA just over 2.00 in the playoffs, getting impressive efforts from Jeff Francis, Josh Fogg and rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. Fellow starter Aaron Cook, who hasn’t pitched since mid-August with an oblique strain, may also rejoin the rotation during the series.

The bullpen is the Rockies’ best weapon this postseason. Relievers Brain Fuentes, LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Herges and closer Manny Corpas have kept the bullpen’s collective ERA to 1.50 and recorded six saves and three wins in the playoffs.

The BoSox are almost guaranteed a Game 1 win with Josh Beckett getting the start. The right-hander has allowed just three runs in three postseason starts, striking out 26 batters and walking only one. Veteran Curt Schilling is solid as the No. 2 starter and was effective in his Game 6 start against Cleveland. Outside those two, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield haven’t pitched exceptionally well.

Boston’s bullpen is deep and boasts star relievers Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon. But aside from Mike Timlin, other BoSox relievers were inconsistent when called upon against the Indians.

Edge: Here comes the barrage of hate mail from Red Sox Nation – Colorado’s pitching is better in the postseason. There I said it, let it rain down. Yes, I know the Rockies faced Arizona, the league’s worst offense. But they did shut down Philadelphia, a team that owned the NL’s best offense. The Rox bullpen has been untouchable October while the Red Sox’s reserve arms have shown flaws and put in more work this postseason.


The World Series is a defensive battle. Colorado’s .989 fielding percentage this season was a major league record, breaking the previous mark set by last year’s Red Sox team. The Rockies’ men at the corners, first baseman Todd Helton and third baseman Garrett Atkins, bookend second baseman Matsui and rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

Boston’s fielders have an identical .989 percentage as Colorado this postseason, but committed seven errors compared to the Rockies’ three. However the Red Sox have played 25 more innings of playoff baseball. Third baseman Mike Lowell is the star of the infield along with shortstop Julio Lugo and Pedroia. First baseman Youkilis is accountable for three of those seven bloopers.

Edge: Colorado. The Rockies’ infield is as flawless as Marissa Miller in a bikini. The outfield of Holliday, Willy Taveras and Brad Hawpe keeps the grass on lockdown. They’ll be busy in the World Series facing the team that led the majors in fly balls. Meanwhile Boston’s outfield has some issues. Ramirez was never great in left, J.D. Drew has limited speed in right and Coco Crisp is dinged up after colliding with the wall during the final out of Game 7.


Boston and Colorado are riding two momentum trains on the same track.

If you’ve been living in the rain forest in a cave with a blindfold on and cotton balls in your ears, then you might be wondering how in the world the Colorado Rockies made the World Series. Well, winning 21 of their last 22 games. That’s how.

The Rockies have lost only once since mid-September, a stretch that includes seven straight postseason wins. But their success is also their curse. Colorado hasn’t played since Oct. 15 and will have waited eight days before the start of the World Series. This extended vacation could slow the Rockies down.

Boston is coming off another historic ALCS comeback. If you’ve been in that same cave in the rain forest for more than four years, you also missed the Red Sox’s amazing 2004 turnaround from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees.

This past week’s surge after being down 3-1 to the Indians is scarily reminiscent of the 2004 comeback. Back then, Boston rode their shock ALCS win right into the World Series and mashed the St. Louis Cardinals. Many pieces of that championship team are still in place for the BoSox, who heavily outweigh the Rockies in big game experience.

Baseball fans got a Fall Classic preview back in June when Colorado traveled to Boston during interleague play. The National League champs lost the first of three games 2-1 but then exploded for wins in the next two, outscoring the Red Sox 19-3. The Rockies’ pitchers also did their part, holding Boston’s bats to five runs and posting an ERA under 2.00 with 21 strikeouts during the series.

Edge: You can’t put much weight on what happened back in June. But you can count on the Red Sox staying red hot for at least the first two games in Fenway Park. Boston has been here before and this trip is eerily similar to that.

Pick: Boston wins in five games. I feel bad not giving Colorado its due. But in a way I think I am. The Rockies are a great club and a terrific story. However, not all made-for-Hollywood teams have happy endings. Boston flirted with elimination against the Indians and used the 3-1 deficit as a wake-up call. Since then, the Red Sox are playing with purpose. They should finish off the NL champs in swift fashion.

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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

2007 World Series position-by-position breakdown
October 23rd, 2007

(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox will try for their second World Series title in four years when they kick off the 103rd World Series against the red- hot Colorado Rockies on Wednesday at Fenway Park.

While Colorado will be playing in its first-ever Fall Classic, Boston will be trying for its seventh title and will be appearing in its 11th World Series.

The Rockies have, of course, won 21 of their last 22 games to get to this point, including sweeps in both the NLDS and NLCS.

Boston, meanwhile, became the 11th team in postseason history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, beating the Cleveland Indians in seven games to claim their first AL pennant since winning the World Series in 2004, their first title since 1918.

These teams actually met during the season, as Colorado took two out of three from the Red Sox at Fenway in June. Colorado outscored Boston 20-5, dropping the first game 2-1 before winning the next two, 12-2 and 7-1. The finale of that set saw Josh Beckett get his first loss of the season.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the matchups at each position:


Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba is known more for his play behind the plate than at it, but the backstop is hitting .320 in the postseason and belted a big three-run home run in Colorado's Game 3 victory over Arizona in the NLCS.

Jason Varitek is the leader of this team, but is hitting just .243 in the postseason. If knuckleballer Tim Wakefield gets a start Doug Mirabelli will be behind the plate.



Todd Helton had to wait 1,578 games to finally get to the postseason, but has struggled mightily thus far. He has just four hits in 26 at-bats and has knocked in only one run. While not the power hitter he once was, Helton still has some pop, and there are not many better with the glove than Peyton Manning's former backup quarterback at Tennessee.

Kevin Youkilis is one of the most underrated players in the game. He is the type of player you hate if you are playing against him, but you love to have him on your team. Youkilis has been moved to the No. 2 hole here in the postseason and has thrived, hitting .425 with four home runs and nine RBI.

Of course, though, Youkilis could find himself on the bench when the series shifts to Colorado to get David Ortiz's big bat in the lineup.



After getting run out of town in New York, Kaz Matsui has found a home in Colorado. After hitting .288 in the regular season, Matsui was the offensive star for the Rockies in the NLDS, batting .417 with six RBI. Matsui also had four hits and two RBI against the D'Backs.

Dustin Pedroia could very well be on his way to an AL Rookie of the Year award. Pedroia, though, had struggled in the playoffs, hitting just .172 through Game 4 of the ALCS. However, he was 7-for-13 in the final three games against the Tribe and knocked in five runs in the clincher.



Troy Tulowitzki could be the National League's Rookie of the Year. However, he has showed signs of wearing down here in the postseason and is batting just .179. Actually it is kind of remarkable the Rockies are in the position they are considering the fact that they have gotten next to nothing offensively from Helton or Tulowitzki.

While he may be struggling with the stick, Tulowitzki could be the best defensive shortstop in the National League.

Julio Lugo is the weakest part of the Red Sox lineup. He was brought in to be the team's leadoff man this season, but that didn't pan out, as Lugo batted just .237. Things haven't changed in the playoffs, as he is hitting a paltry .229 with two RBI.

Although he is known more for his glove than his bat, he is still nowhere near the fielder Tulowitzki is.



Mike Lowell was an unsung hero in the lineup all season and that trend continued in the postseason. The soon-to-be free agent third baseman, who batted .324 and knocked in 120 RBI in the regular season, is batting .333 in the playoffs with 11 RBI.

After overcoming a brutal start to his season, Garrett Atkins managed to finish the season hitting .301 with 25 home runs and 111 RBI. However, he has lost his stroke in the playoffs, batting a mere .185 with just one RBI.



The best of all the matchups in the field takes place in left field where National League MVP candidate Matt Holliday and baseball's biggest enigma Manny Ramirez will patrol.

Holliday is the driving force behind the Rockies lineup after leading the league with a .340 average and 137 RBI. After an average division series, Holliday showed why he is a league MVP contender in the LCS, hitting .333 with a pair of home runs and four RBI to take home MVP honors in that series.

Ramirez, meanwhile, has been awesome all postseason. Ramirez, who irked some people with the who cares comments he made during the ALCS, is hitting .400 in the playoffs with four home runs and 14 RBI. He also holds the postseason record with 24 career homers.



Colorado manager Clint Hurdle raised some eyebrows when he reinserted Willy Taveras into the starting lineup against Arizona after he missed the NLDS and most of the stretch run with a quad injury. The speedy leadoff man scored three times in the sweep of the Diamondbacks, but hit just .167. He batted .320 in the regular season and he will have to get on base if the Rockies are going to have a chance here.

Coco Crisp has been abysmal at the plate (.161), as well here in the postseason. But make no mistake he is only in the lineup because of his defense. With the lineup the Red Sox have, all he has to do is field his position. Rookie Jacoby Ellsbury, though, started the final two games of the series with Cleveland and could very well be there again this week.

Crisp, though, will replace him late in games for his defense if he does not get the start in center.



If the Rockies have one liability in the field it is in right with Brad Hawpe. But he more than makes up for his defensive shortcomings with his bat. Hawpe has picked up his game at the plate here in the postseason and is hitting .304.

J.D. Drew has been vilified in Boston for his play this season, but he did hit a big grand slam to get them going in Game 6 of the ALCS. Drew is hitting .306 in the postseason with nine RBI. Francona opted to sit him against lefty C.C. Sabathia in the ALCS and with a pair of southpaws in the Rockies rotation, he could be relegated to more bench time in the World Series. However, the Red Sox could use his arm in right, as Colorado is going to run at will.



When you think of the Colorado Rockies, their pitching staff is usually not the first thing that comes to mind, but left-hander Jeff Francis could be on his way to changing that.

Francis, a 17-game winner this season, has been brilliant here in his first postseason, going 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA.

After Francis, though, it gets a little shaky with the likes of rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales along with Josh Fogg.

The Rockies rotation could get a boost with the return of Opening Day starter Aaron Cook, who has been sidelined since early August with an oblique strain. He was eligible to return for the NLCS, but the Rockies opted to leave him off the roster.

Beckett will again take the ball in Game 1 for the Red Sox after three tremendous starts in the first two rounds. Beckett, who was 20-7 this season with a 3.27 ERA, has added to his already impressive postseason resume in these playoffs going a perfect 3-0 with a sparkling 1.17 ERA and was named the ALCS MVP.

Beckett, who was the World Series MVP in 2003 while with the Florida Marlins, has been incredible in the playoffs over the course of his young career. In nine postseason games, Beckett is 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA.

Boston manager Terry Francona hasn't named a Game 2 starter, but the smart money will be on Curt Schilling with Daisuke Matsuzaka getting the nod in Game 3.

While not as impressive as Beckett, Schilling proved again why he is one of the best postseason pitchers of all time with his Game 6 gem against Cleveland. With Boston's backs against the wall, Schilling allowed just two runs and six hits in seven innings to run his postseason mark to 10-2 in his 18 playoff starts.

Matsuzaka, who showed signs of wearing down in the stretch, has not been sharp in the postseason, but did get the win when the Red Sox needed him most in Game 7 against Cleveland.

Wakefield has been bothered by a sore back and Francona is supposedly toying with the idea of giving lefty Jon Lester his start here in the Fall Classic.



Colorado, meanwhile, relies on Manny Corpas to get it home. Corpas replaced Brian Fuentes as the team's closer midway during the season and posted 19 saves and a 2.08 ERA in a team-high 78 appearances this year.

Corpas has been excellent in this postseason, recording five saves and a win, while pitching to a 1.04 ERA.

Fuentes gave up a three-run homer in the Rox' clinching win over the Diamondbacks, but has been phenomenal other than that outing. LaTroy Hawkins also serves as the bridge to Corpas.

Jonathan Papelbon came into spring training with the intention of starting, but when no one came in and took hold of the closer's role, Francona called upon his second-year pro to fill that spot once again. Papelbon responded with another sensational season with 37 saves and a 1.85 ERA.

Papelbon was only needed once in the series against the Angels and got the win with a brilliant 1 1/3 inning performance in Game 2. He pitched three times in the ALCS and earned the save with a two-inning effort in Sunday's Game 7 win.

Right-hander Hideki Okajima was dominant in the first half (2-0, 0.83 ERA), as he and Papelbon combined to form the best 1-2 punch at the end of games in the league. However, he struggled in September (8.10 ERA).

A little rest down the stretch may have been the answer, as he has tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings here in the postseason.

When Eric Gagne was acquired at the trade deadline, most people applauded the move. Gagne, though, was an utter disappointment, going 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA and three blown saves in a Red Sox uniform. He was tagged with a loss in the ALCS and has pitched to an 8.10 ERA here in the playoffs. In other words don't expect to see him unless there is a blowout.

Francona will count on Javier Lopez to get Colorado's lefties out.



Colorado could use a number of people at this spot. The two most likely candidates, though, are Ryan Spilborghs and rookie Seth Smith. Spilborghs will probably get the nod, as he filled in admirably down the stretch in center while Tavares was injured.

There is no batter feared more than Boston slugger David Ortiz. Big Papi has been amazing in these playoffs hitting .387 with three home runs. He has also walked 12 times and has scored 12 times. Ortiz is also one of the most clutch hitters in the history of the game. He has been bothered with some knee issues and it will be interesting to see how he responds to playing the field three straight games in Denver.



Jamey Carroll can play second, short and third base off the bench for Colorado, but hit just .225 on the year. Carroll, though, hit .368 in 12 games against Arizona and had a .500 on-base-percentage in those contests.

Jeff Baker can pinch hit from the right side and play first and right field. Cory Sullivan and Spilborghs will see some time in the outfield too.

With Crisp hurt for most of September, Boston got a look at its future center fielder in Ellsbury and he answered the bell with a spectacular month. Francona seems to trust him and he could get a start or two in this series. He will also be used as a pinch-runner late in games.

Eric Hinske and Bobby Kielty will provide some pop late in the games, while Hinske can also play a number of positions.



If Arizona skipper Bob Melvin does indeed win the NL Manager of the Year award, Hurdle will likely finish not far behind.

For the first time since taking over in 2002, Hurdle finished above .500. He entered this year with just a 352-436 in five years with the Rockies, but guided the club to a 90-73 mark this season for Colorado's best winning percentage since 1995.

Francona is in his fourth year as manager of the Red Sox and has taken the team to the postseason in three of those seasons, including their first title in 86 years in 2004. The Red Sox are so well disciplined and rarely make a mistake in the field and all that is a credit to Francona.


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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

World Series preview
By Josh Jacobs 

It’s been a long season and now down to two teams left, the pieces are in place for the World Series to unfold before us. Statistically, both offences and defenses matchup up very well against each other (Boston is on top in the offensive department and Colorado has had the superior pitching). What stands out in bold letters is EXPERIECE and it sure isn’t in favor of the young Colorado squad.

Game 1 of the Fall Classic will begin on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Home field advantage goes to Boston, with most books installing the Sox as $2.05 favorites. has tagged the Rockies as $1.80 underdogs, with Boston catching a $2.20 favorite price to take the Commissioner’s trophy (series price).

Colorado: Appearing in its first World Series since the franchise opened the doors into the MLB in 1993, Colorado has been patiently waiting for ALCS to conclude. With eight days of rest, it should be interesting to see how the Rockies leave the starting gate on Wednesday night.

The offense has been sporadic throughout the playoffs, doing just enough to allow the bullpen (the magic bullet for this club) to take Philadelphia and Arizona to the woodshed. The team’s bats have been relatively quiet, swinging for a .242 BA with 4.6 runs per game produced.

The go to guys for Colorado this postseason have been catcher Yorvit Torrealba (.320 BA, seven RBIs), second baseman Kazuo Matsui (.310, eight RBIs), right fielder Brad Hawpe (.304, two RBIs) and left fielder Matt Holliday (.286, seven RBIs). Once you get past the magnificent four, the batting order reveals it’s weakens. Four other starters in the batters box are averaging a lackadaisical .171 BA.

In all fairness, the team batting average has taken a hit with pitchers failing to rack up one hit throughout the postseason. The biggest surprise in respects to falling on rough times is rooted in first baseman Todd Helton’s slump in a total of seven games. Helton is hitting a .154 BA with one RBI and six strikeouts. If the Rockies want to rise to the occasion, Helton needs to step up his level of play.

Overlapping into September, Colorado is 21-1 in its last 22 games.

From the bad to the good, the Rockies have been dominant in large part to its superb pitching staff. Starters Josh Fogg (2-0, 1.13) and Jeff Francis (2-0, 2.13) have been lights outs in each of their two starts, and closer Manny Corpas has put the exclamation mark on close contests with five saves in 8.2 innings of work.

The one anomaly that has baffled the bettor and fan siding with Colorado is right handed starter Ubaldo Jimenez’s inability to notch one win under his belt even after laboring for a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings. We’ve seen it before and I’ve mentioned it many times over the course of the season, but good pitching needs good hitting to accompany it. Run support has been skimp when Jimenez steps onto the mound.

Overall, the entire bullpen has collectively posted a 1.61 ERA with a WHIP of 0.82.

Fielding wise, the Rockies have lock down, giving up a low three errors during the playoffs, while the team’s .989fielding percentage was a major league record. Covering the ball for 1,842 assists ranked Colorado second best in the majors, and 68 total errors on the season was the best in the league. That’s getting things done right in the field.

Expected Starters: Jeff Francis (13 games since his last start) Game 1, Curt Schilling Game 2, Josh Fogg Game 3

Boston: Resilience, a solid starting rotation, pop at the plate from MMD (Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz) and great results from playing inside Fenway are key factors that have propelled the BoSox into the World Series for the second time in four years.

Rocking the ball for a team .304 BA with 6.7 runs crossing the plate per game, Boston definitely gets the thumbs up over Colorado in the offensive department. Coming off the ALCS win over the Indians, Kevin Youkilis, Ramirez, Ortiz and Lowell combined to make contact for an incredible .384 BA, while hammering in 28 RBIs (58-percent of the team’s RBI production).

Sure, Jason Varitek (.269, 4 RBIs), Julio Lugo (.200, two RBIs) and Coco Crisp (.143, no RBIs) have been dreadful, but the big boys stepping up to make things right have trumped the lack of performance from the No. 1 hitting slot down to the No. 9.

As strong as the swing has been for the Sox, pitching is where games are won or lost. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships and nothing could be more true then what starters Josh Beckett (3-0, 1.17 ERA) and Curt Schilling (2-0, 3.38) have done in their respective games pitched. The same can’t be said for the rest of the staff, with the team hovering at a high 3.60 ERA.

And the numbers continued to degrade in the ALCS, with the team’s hurlers working for an inflated 4.57 ERA. The lineup of arms pulling this team down include starters Daisuke Matsuzaka, reliever Eric Gagne and Tim Wakefield. If there’s one scab to pick on this squad it’s the middle relief. If the lumber falls silent against a tough pitching Rockies team, things could get bad for Boston.

But coming back from the dead when down 3-1 against the Tribe, cashing in with 30 runs in the last three games and starting the series in Fenway should all be favorable factors.

Expected Starters: Josh Beckett Game 1, Curt Schilling Game 2, Daisuke Matsuzaka Game 3

Prediction: Here we go. Boston is rallying after rebounding from Cleveland’s tight grasp in Game 4 of the ALCS. They’ve been a monster in their own home park and pitching has been very tight in the last three games. Overall, the Red Sox bullpen has faltered during the playoffs but the bats are alive again. With Beckett getting the nod (Beckett is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in Fenway this postseason) in Game 1, the Sox will continue its winning ways.

In Colorado’s defense, this club is playing lock down defense on the field (especially in comparison to the way J.D. Drew and Coco Crisp, who’s a bit gimpy after hitting the wall in Game 7 of the ALCS, have performed in the outfield), has a scary starting rotation (and bullpen) and can keep the game in its pocket when shutdown closer Manny Corpas takes over pitching duties.

If the Sox can manage to keep their pitching in check and the bats resume their liftoff status I just can’t see how the Rockies continue their heart warming success story. Crazier things have happened but this is the year for Red Sox Nation to savor another World Series victory. The train is moving with incredible force and Colorado will have little to no chance at stopping a Boston team looking to steam role its way to the champagne party.

Boston wins in six games.

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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

Rockies won two of three at Fenway
October 23, 2007

BOSTON (AP) -The Green Monster in left field. The Pesky Pole in right. Screaming fans all over the place.

The aura of Fenway Park can intimidate visitors. Not the Colorado Rockies. They've seen and heard it all before and done quite well.

In a three-game series in mid-June, they came to the historic ballpark with a losing record and beat the first-place Boston Red Sox twice. In the finale, Jeff Francis had one of his best starts of the year, Josh Beckett had one of his worst and the Rockies won 7-1.

On Wednesday night, Francis and Beckett will meet at Fenway again in Game 1 of the World Series.

``It was loud. It was energetic,'' Francis said of his last visit. ``Those fans are into the game at all points. There is no limit. You have to get all 27 outs before you can relax.''

Beckett was 9-0 when he faced Francis. He lasted just five innings, giving up up six runs, 10 hits and one walk with a season-low one strikeout. He allowed two homers, including a grand slam by Garrett Atkins in the third inning over the 37-foot high Green Monster in left field.

``It was a fun run,'' Beckett said after the game of his unbeaten streak.

Boston won the opener of that series 2-1 when Tim Wakefield allowed one run in eight innings and Jonathan Papelbon struck out two and picked up the save. The next day, Colorado tagged Curt Schilling for six runs in five innings in a 12-2 victory.

``They took it to us pretty good, I remember that,'' Boston's Dustin Pedroia said Monday. ``They came in here and just beat on us. They swung the bats good. They pitched well. So we're going to have to make some adjustments. But I think we're two totally different teams since then.''

The Rockies certainly are.

Just 33-33 after that series, they finished the regular season at 90-73 with a win over San Diego in a one-game playoff. Then they swept Philadelphia and Arizona in the first two postseason rounds, giving them 21 wins in their last 22 games.

``They had an incredible run to this point,'' Schilling said. ``They're going to play us tough.''

The Red Sox also have changed.

Rookie Jacoby Ellsbury replaced slumping Coco Crisp in center field for the last two games of the seven-game AL championship series against the Cleveland Indians and could start again Wednesday, although he'd be hitting lefty against left-hander Francis.

The Red Sox also are on an offensive tear. In winning the last three games against Cleveland after falling behind 3-1, they hit .381 (40-for-105) with three homers and outscored the Indians 30-5.

``The way we turned it on in the series against Cleveland, I couldn't be prouder of them,'' Boston hitting coach Dave Magadan said.

``They hit better at that park than they do anywhere else,'' Francis said. ``We have our work cut out for us, but we are up for the challenge.''

The Red Sox hit .279 this season, including .297 at Fenway.

They'll be playing on two days' rest, which should help them keep their batting rhythm. The Rockies will finally play after eight days without a game.

``They'll be ready,'' Pedroia said. ``They've waited their whole lives to be in this situation so I don't think nine days of rest is going to affect their play at all.''

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle understood the concern that his hitters might lose their edge, but the city of Denver had time to enjoy winning the NL pennant for the first time in the team's 15-year history.

``All the stories about the down time were appropriate. What will it do to the Rockies?'' he said. ``But to watch the city - not to have us run right into the World Series - has been really cool.''

The weather is Boston for the first two games is supposed to be mild, with mostly clear skies and temperatures in the 50s.

There's no snow in the forecast for the weekend games in Denver. Meteorologist Robert Glancy of the National Weather Service said Monday that Games 3 and 4 should be played in around 45-degree weather.

The Red Sox have an edge in experience; Beckett was the MVP of the 2003 World Series and the 2007 ALCS and Manny Ramirez won the award in the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox still have seven players who were on the roster that ended the franchise's 86-year championship drought.

They also have been resilient, coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS and the 3-1 deficit this year.

What's the secret?

``You just try to relax and do what you did all year,'' Boston's J.D. Drew said. ``I knew I didn't want to walk off that field an LCS loser.''

He was a winner on Sunday when the Red Sox clinched the ALCS with an 11-2 win at Fenway Park.

But so far this season, the Rockies are 2-1 there.

``That, at least, gives us some familiarity with the ballpark and a little bit with their pitchers recently,'' NLCS MVP Matt Holliday said. ``But that doesn't mean anything in the World Series.''

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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

Wakefield left off World Series roster
Associated Press 

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is being left off Boston's roster for the World Series because of a bad shoulder.

The 41-year-old Wakefield fought through back problems late in the season and was kept off the roster for the first-round series against the Los Angeles Angels. He has pitched once since Sept. 29, allowing five runs in 4 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the AL championship series against the Cleveland Indians.

Wakefield was 17-12 with a 4.76 ERA in the regular season.

Also Tuesday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Jacoby Ellsbury would start Game 1 in center field in place of Coco Crisp.

Crisp struggled in the playoffs and was replaced in the lineup for Games 6 and 7 against Cleveland, and he also banged into the wall catching the final out of the ALCS.

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Re: 2007 World Series Preview - Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox

Who will win, Rox or Sox? 

So it's the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox crossing swords in the 2007 World Series.

Needless to say, rabid partisans of both teams believe it'll be their hometown nine hoisting the trophy in the end. Today, at least, they're both right.

As history has proved time and again, predicting the outcome of a postseason series is a fool's errand. So we're going to take the easy way out and give five reasons why the Rox and the Sox will triumph. Everybody wins, reality be damned. So here's to a day without losers ...

Why the Red Sox will win

1. They're the better team

First, let's establish this most basic reality. The Red Sox won 96 games while toiling in the plainly superior American League. The Rockies, meanwhile, won 90 games as a member of the lesser National League. Certainly, the best team doesn't always win in a short series, but it's nonetheless an advantage going in. Talent will carry the day, and Boston will prevail.

2. They're built to win in the postseason

As has been pointed out before in this space, teams that win in the postseason tend to have three things in common: a pitching staff that racks up strikeouts, a strong team defense and a dominating closer. The Sox have all three covered. This season, the Boston staff ranked third in the AL in whiffs, and the defense grades out well no matter what measure you choose. Also, few closers are on Jonathan Papelbon's level. Coming into the 2007 playoffs, we told you the Sox were the team best equipped to win, and that's exactly what they're doing.

3. The offense is in a groove

Most seasons, the offense is the strength of the Red Sox. This year, however, Boston led the AL in fewest runs allowed but ranked "only" third in runs scored. The offense is still darn good, but pitching has been the primary reason for Boston's success. With that said, the lineup has certainly stepped up in the postseason. Coming into Game 7 of the ALCS, the Sox boasted a cumulative playoff batting line of .290 AVG/.381 OBP/.487 SLG and, of course, they hung 11 runs on Cleveland in the finale. So those piping-hot bats will carry Boston to the trophy.

4. Josh Beckett's in ace form

This year, Beckett rebounded nicely from his disappointing 2006, and he may wind up with the Cy Young for his efforts. In the playoffs, he's been even better. This October, Beckett boasts a 1.17 ERA, and he's also the freshly minted ALCS MVP. He'll start Game 1 and — if necessary — Game 5 of the World Series on full rest, and he might even be available for relief work in Game 7, should the Series go that long. Beckett is pitching like vintage Beckett, and that means Colorado is in trouble.

5. They've got home-field advantage.

Normally, too much is made of home-field advantage in the postseason, but in this particular series it may play a role. The Sox, of course, will play at home for Games 1 and 2 and, if needed, Games 6 and 7. On that point, it's worth noting that Boston this season was a nifty 51-30 at Fenway, while the Rockies had a losing record on the road. The Sox won't fall at home.

Now it's your turn, Colorado ...

Why the Rockies will win

1. They're as hot as hot can be

As we've been endlessly reminded since the end of the NLCS, the Rockies have won 21 of their last 22 games. In most states, that legally qualifies as "hot." What's also impressive is that 20 of those 21 victories have come against winning teams (specifically, the Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks and Phillies). So not only have they won early and often, but they've also done so despite playing a rough stretch of schedule. So prepare to meet the buzzsaw, Red Sox.

2. They're rested

There's been some concern that Colorado's eight-day layoff will work against them in the World Series. It's impossible to tell how a team will react to such circumstances, but it seems that for every 2006 Tigers (who looked sluggish after their lengthy respite) there's a 2005 White Sox (who swept the Astros after twiddling their thumbs for several days). Mostly, though, there's the idea that after 169 games, there's no such thing as "too much rest." The Rockies are refreshed, and the Red Sox are spent. That's why Colorado will take the Series.

3. They've proved they can beat Boston

Back in June, the Rockies marched into Fenway, took two out of three from the Sox, outscored them 20-5, handed Beckett his first loss of 2007 and also knocked around Curt Schilling. Small sample size of games? Yep, but the same goes for the World Series.

4. They're a different team in the second half

Colorado was a middling 44-44 before the All-Star break, but since that point they've gone 46-29. In fact, only the Yankees posted a better record in the second half. As for Boston, they were 43-32 after the break. That's a commendable mark, but it's a far cry from the Rockies' success. Look for the Rockies to keep it up.

5. They've got lefties

Lefties Jeff Francis and Franklin Morales will both be in the Rox's World Series rotation. That's significant because the Boston offense this season has been less potent against left-handed pitching. The upshot is that, should the Series go long enough, Boston will be forced to oppose a lefty no fewer than three times. That's to Colorado's advantage, and it's one of the reasons they'll win the whole thing.

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