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Baseball Today - Sunday, Oct. 28

Baseball Today - Sunday, Oct. 28

What bettors need to know: Game 4 - Red Sox at Rockies

Jon Lester vs. Aaron Cook

Lester was thrust into Boston’s World Series rotation after an injury to Tim Wakefield. The 23-year-old had his rookie season cut short in 2006 due to illness, and has been used sparingly by manager Tony Francona on his return this year.

Lester went 4-0 with a 4.57 ERA in 12 games, but really hit his stride down the stretch. He went 2-0 with a 3.34 ERA in September and posted a 4.91 ERA out of the bullpen in two ALCS appearances. This is Lester’s first appearance at Coors Field. He went 3-0 with a 4.73 ERA in seven road starts this season.

Cook went more than two months without making a start due to a strained oblique muscle, missing the Rockies winning streak and the entire postseason up to now. But when he was deemed fit last week, Colorado manager Clint Hurdle wasted no time restoring him to the rotation.

The right-hander showed was excellent this season before picking up the injury. He went 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA in six July starts and finished the season with the best ERA of any Colorado starter (4.12). Cook faced Boston once this year, limiting the team to two runs in 7 1/3 innings of work at Fenway Park in June.

Sox one away, Rox not giving up

The Red Sox are just a game away from winning their second World Series title in three years. The Rockies, meanwhile, are still hoping to become the first team in baseball history to return from a 3-0 deficit in the Fall Classic.

"OK, so it looks like we're in groundbreaking territory," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle told after Saturday’s 10-5 loss. "I mean, we need to go out and win Game 4. I don't think you need to overreact or underreact. You just show up, get ready to play and find a way to win Game 4."

Twenty-two teams have taken a 3-0 lead in the World Series over its history. Those teams have won the title on every occasion, and none of those series have gone further than five games. In fact, 19 of the 22 ended in a sweep.

"Obviously, it's a tough task because no one has ever done it in the World Series," Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins added. "You have to break it down as far as you can: from at-bat to at-bat and from inning to inning. At the end of the day we'll see where we are."

The Red Sox are not taking anything for granted. Maybe that’s because they are the only team in baseball history to come back from a 3-0 deficit – albeit in the 2004 ALCS.

"You can't eat your cake before it's your birthday," Manny Ramirez said when asked about his team’s lead.

His teammates agree.

"We have to maintain the same intensity," said veteran third baseman Mike Lowell. "You know, 3-0 doesn't mean anything if you can't win the fourth. I believe we'll go into the game on Sunday just like we did tonight, just like we did in the first two games at Boston. There's no reason to take it any different."

Rookies carry Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury had one of the best nights of his career in the No. 1 spot. With Dustin Pedroia batting behind him, they became only the third pair of rookies in history to lead off a World Series game. And they did it in the best possible fashion, with Ellsbury going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and Pedroia going 3-for-5 with another two runs batted in.

"They carried the team," Manny Ramirez  told "You have to give those guys credit."

Manager Terry Francona said, "They were on base the whole night. They did exactly what you would hope your 1-2 hitters would do. They're on base like that, and then you've got to face the middle of our order. It created a lot of opportunities."

The rookie duo was a big part of Boston’s two big innings last night. They started the third by both getting on base and the Sox went on to score six runs. And when the Rockies came back to within one, Ellsbury came up with an RBI double in what turned out to be a three-run eighth.

"They've been doing a fantastic job at the top of the order," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said after the game. "We've got to find a way to slow them down."

Rockies bats finally get going

The Rockies’ offense finally produced something last night, although it was too little, too late to beat the Red Sox. Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer off Hideki Okajima in the seventh, while Brad Hawpe and Yorvit Torrealba came up with RBI singles in the previous inning.

"It brought all kinds of momentum in our dugout," Rockies reliever Matt Herges told when asked about Holliday’s homer. "It was, 'Hey, there's our guy.' That ball exploded off his bat. It gave us hope – not that we ever lost it.

"If there's ever been a team I've been around that can come back from a three-game deficit, it's us."

If the Rockies are to manage what would be the greatest comeback of all time, their bats will have to improve. So far in the postseason, Colorado is batting .236 with eight homers with 41 runs scored, while Boston is batting .316 with 16 homers and 95 runs scored.

The Red Sox played more games in the Championship Series, but they still outscored the Rockies 25-7 in the first three games of Fall Classic.

"We never thought we lost the magic," Rockies centerfielder Ryan Spilborghs told "Even in the ninth inning tonight, we thought we were going to come back and win. The magic is there.

"We're the same guys. We're playing good baseball. They're playing great baseball – I'm not going to take anything away from them. We've just got to match it.”

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Re: Baseball Today - Sunday, Oct. 28

Boston (10-2) at Colorado (7-3)

The Red Sox look for their second World Series sweep in the last four years when they send second-year lefty Jon Lester (4-0, 4.57 ERA) to the hill against the Rockies and veteran Aaron Cook (8-7, 4.12) at Coors Field in Denver tonight.

Boston swept St. Louis in the 2004 series and lead Colorado 3-0 after Saturday’s 10-5 victory in Denver. The Red Sox offense has now scored in double digits two of the three games in this series and five times so far this postseason.

The Rockies have managed just seven runs in three games and scored five of those in two innings Saturday night.

Lester has started 26 games in a Red Sox uniform and is 11-2 with a 4.68 ERA. In 13 career road outings he is 6-1 with a 4.75 ERA in 72 innings. The southpaw pitched twice in the ALCS against Cleveland and allowed two runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief.

Cook, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 10 due to a strained side muscle, was the Rockies opening-day starter and is the longest tenured member of the pitching staff. He’s got a lifetime mark of 20-17 and an ERA of 4.87 at Coors Field.

Cook is 0-2 in his two career outings against Boston, allowing five runs on 13 hits in 12 1/3 innings for a 3.65 ERA. At home this season he went 4-5 with a 5.31 ERA in 78 innings.

Boston has outscored the opposition 55-12 in the last six games and 49-19 in its seven-game World Series winning streak.

In front of the home fans, Colorado is on a 40-15 run and 15-4 in its last 19 games as an underdog.

The Red Sox are now 47-14 in their last 61 interleague games, including 11-4 this year. Colorado is 10-11 against the American League, including 2-4 against Boston.

The under is 6-4 for the Rockies in the playoffs (2-2 at home), but the over is 7-3-3 for Boston (2-1-2 on the road).


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