Altitude Adjustment

The Colorado Rockies hope a one-mile increase in altitude will make a world of difference.

The Boston Red Sox are on a high, and it's not just because of their 2-0 World Series lead. After filtering out of Fenway in the dead of night, they arrived at their hotel at 5 a.m. Friday and eight hours later were at Coors Field, checking out the dry, thin air of a ballpark as unique as the one off Kenmore Square.

With no designated hitter in the National League city, Boston will move David Ortiz to first despite a bad knee while regular first baseman Kevin Youkilis is benched and Mike Lowell remains at third. Ortiz played seven times at first this year, all in interleague play. He's not a Hoover.

``Anything around me, it's going to be (caught). After that, I don't know,'' he said. ``I've played first base before and it wasn't that bad. It's just not Gold Glove-caliber.''

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston's $103 million pitcher, starts against Josh Fogg, who was born in Lynn, Mass., of all places, and is the son of a Red Sox fan.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -145 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Players weren't the only ones soaking it all up during Friday's workouts. In a silver-colored contraption under the stands between home plate and first base, next to a huge cooler of Coors Light, 142 dozen baseballs were stored behind a padlock in the moist air of the ballpark's humidor.

Since it was introduced in 2002, Coors has been stripped of its reputation as baseball's best launching pad, with home runs and scoring dropping as steeply as a Rocky Mountain ski trail.

``Balls aren't as hard,'' Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins said. ``Not like bricks. They're not hitting rock. They're hitting the same ball as in those other places.''

Instead of thinking about Rico Petrocelli or even Doug Mirabelli this weekend, Red Sox fans might be more concerned with Bernoulli - specifically whether Dice-K's curveball will flatten out in the thin air under Bernoulli's Principle, which explains why airplanes fly.

``The amount of pressure difference created by the spin depends directly on the density of the air itself,'' Bennett Goldberg, chairman of the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences physics department, was quoted as saying on the school's Web site.

Matt Herges, Hawkins' bullpen mate, said balls down the lines won't curve foul at the mile-high ballpark, as they do at sea level. But he also thinks the path to success is to let the issue vanish into thin air.

``I think it's kind of a head game,'' he said. ``They're so professional, they're going to adjust. I just hope they don't adjust right away.''

Of course, it's also a numbers game, and the stats have been pretty bleak for the Rockies, who have done nothing to disprove that the NL might as well be the Pacific Coast League when it faces the AL.

After winning 21 of 22 entering the Series and sitting around for eight days, Colorado is hitting .180 against the Red Sox - 100 points below its NL-leading average during the regular season. Rockies batters have 11 hits and 22 strikeouts, and their pitchers have walked 15 to Boston's three.

Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui - Nos. 1 and 2 in the Rockies' batting order - have combined to go 1-for-15.

And here's a more daunting stat: 27 of 34 previous teams to open 2-0 at home have gone on to win the Series, including 11 straight since the 1981 New York Yankees flopped with four straight losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

``They took care of home,'' Hawkins said, ``it's time for us to take care of home.''

Perhaps the Rockies will move up shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the batting order in hopes of finding a spark. Boston wants to squelch that, preferring a repeat of 2004, when the Red Sox opened with two wins at home, then finished a sweep in St. Louis for their first title in 86 years.

``If we win, the opponent might be like, 'Damn, we're done,''' Ortiz said. ``And if we lose, that might give them some hope. It is a big game.''

by: Staff Writers – Email Us

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