|Lowell was there when Beckett became an October ace|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 00:57|
He was there when Josh Beckett first became a postseason star in Florida. Four years later, Lowell is seeing it again in Boston - maybe even a better Beckett.
``I saw it in '03,'' in the World Series with Florida, said Lowell, Beckett's teammate then and now. ``I thought that was the best three-week stretch I had seen by any pitcher. He's putting on a good comparison to that so far this postseason.''
Beckett allowed one run in seven innings Wednesday night and the Red Sox routed the Colorado Rockies 13-1 in Game 1 of the World Series. In four postseason outings this year, he is 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 35 strikeouts. He's allowed just two walks and 19 hits in 30 innings.
In 2003, he was the MVP of the World Series, shutting out the New York Yankees on five hits in the deciding Game 6. He also pitched a two-hit shutout in Game 5 of the NL championship series, cutting the Chicago Cubs' lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.
``He has such good stuff and it seems like he's executing all of his pitches, and on a stage where everything is scrutinized the way it is now,'' Lowell said. ``I don't know if it's his concentration level, but his execution is so much more precise. It's something special.''
Beckett was 20-7 this season, the only 20-game winner in baseball. Now he's added four postseason wins.
But if he's impressed with himself, he hid it well.
``I feel like I need to really do my part and help carry my load,'' Beckett said. ``If my teammates feel like that's what I'm doing, then I'm happy.''
IT BEGAN WITH YAZ: In 1967, Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski won baseball's last Triple Crown.
That year was important for another reason: Boston reached the World Series after finishing ninth in the 10-team league the previous season.
``Not only did it bring the franchise back to life, but I think it changed the whole attitude in the organization,'' Yaz said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night. ``I think after '67 you were expected to go out and win.''
While this year's team led the AL East for most of the season and can win its second World Series in four years, the '67 bunch was a huge surprise.
Boston hadn't won the pennant since 1946 and hadn't finished better than sixth in the '60s. Then Yastrzemski hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBIs and the Red Sox won the pennant on the last day of the season. With no divisions then, they went right to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Before Wednesday's game, about 20 members of the 1967 team took part in the first-pitch ceremony. Many of those players were together at the home opener, when the Red Sox commemorated the 40th anniversary of the ``Impossible Dream'' team.
``It's been great all year,'' Yastrzemski said. ``It's a great thing, bringing it back.''
ROCKIES ROOTER: Clint Hurdle's biggest fan is back home in Michigan, and she's 95 years old.
His grandma, Lucille.
``I talked to her today. She's turned into a media darling. I think she's been interviewed twice in the last few weeks. Grand Rapids Bugle, I don't know. She's gotten a little air play and she's quite happy and proud,'' the Colorado Rockies manager said before Wednesday's game.
``I still have a number of aunts and uncles that live in Michigan, quite a contingent. It would be too numerous really to go through. But Lucille, don't miss that one. If we can get that out and put her in play, she's 95 and she's my girl. She's my daddy's mama.''
CATCHING PRAISE: Jason Varitek has been lauded by Red Sox managers and pitchers for his ability to handle the staff since his first major league season in 1998.
Yorvit Torrealba is in just his second season behind the plate with Colorado, and Rockies manager Clint Hurdle feels he's also done a solid job, especially with Game 2 starter Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales in the rotation.
``He communicates very well with anybody we have on the mound,'' Hurdle said.
Torrealba made his most noticeable postseason contribution in Game 3 of the NL championship series with a three-run homer in the sixth that broke a tie against Arizona. The Rockies won 4-1 then completed the sweep in the next game.
But Hurdle knows how valuable he can be on defense.
``His pitch selection has been so very, very good, his touch and feel with each individual pitcher,'' the manager said. ``He plays with a lot of emotion, which I think fits into our ballclub very well also. He plays with a bit of an edge and a chip, especially when we brought Morales and Jimenez into the rotation.''
LUCKY SEVEN: The Red Sox were involved in another seven-run inning and Eric Gagne can't be blamed for starting this one.
The fifth-inning outburst Wednesday gave Boston a chance to use the struggling reliever in a pressure-free situation and he retired the side in order in the ninth.
In Game 2 of the AL championship series, Cleveland scored seven runs in the 11th and won 13-6. Gagne faced the first three batters in the inning - a strikeout, a single and a walk.
``You never want to lose by a big inning killing you,'' Boston center fielder Coco Crisp said.
The seven-run inning against Colorado relievers Morales and Ryan Speier ``wasn't any indication of what they are, period,'' said Matt Herges, who got the last out of the inning. ``They're your buddies. It sort of hurts.''