Thursday, October 25, 2007


You could make the argument that the Rockies got lucky. They scored their only run on a hit-by-pitch, a single off someone's glove, and a ground out. The Red Sox, conversely, left baserunner after baserunner in scoring position. They hit the ball hard, but right at Rockies fielders. Somehow it all amounted to only two runs for Boston, but it could easily have been five or six.

This was a 5-0 game masquerading as a 2-1 game. And the Sox won anyway. In doing so, they take the commanding two games to none lead as the World Series goes to Colorado for the first time in Major League history.

As good as Curt Schilling was, and he was excellent, the Red Sox bullpen was better. Between Schilling, Okajima, and Papelbon, there were few chances for Colorado. Their best chance likely came in the sixth inning when with one out, Schilling walked his second batter to put runners at first and second. That was it for him, as Terry Francona went to Hideki Okajima.

Okajima got a ground out to Youkilis for out number two, and a strikeout to end the inning. Then he threw 1 2/3 more scoreless innings before yielding to Papelbon with two down in the eighth inning. Okajima faced seven hitters and struck four of them out. He didn't walk anyone, nor did he give up a hit. In fact, other than Holliday, the Rockies hitters went 1-25 against Red Sox pitching on the night.

After coming on in the eighth, Papelbon gave up a single to MVP candidate Matt Holliday, but promptly picked Holliday off before even throwing a pitch to Todd Helton. In the ninth, he struck Helton out, got Atkins to fly out and then struck out Hawpe to end it. Game over. 2-1 games don't come any more stress-free than this one, especially in the World Series.

The Sox now get a day off as they travel to Colorado. The World Series resumes on Saturday night at 8pm EST with Daisuke Matsuzaka facing Josh Fogg. Since the NL park doesn't allow for a DH, it will be interesting to see if Francona tries to maximize his offense by playing David Ortiz, or his defense by playing Youk at first base. I suspect Francona may mix and match by playing Ortiz at first for the first two games and then Youk would replace him in Game 5 (should it be necessary).

The reason is the Rockies are throwing two right-handed pitchers in Games 3 and 4, so it makes sense to put the lefty Ortiz in there (not to mention Ortiz is maybe the greatest clutch hitter in baseball today, and this from someone who doesn't really believe in clutch hitting). In any case, I bet Ortiz starts at first in Game 3. If Matsuzaka can throw strikes the Red Sox can take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

But thats for another day. For now, we can all savor the 2-0 cushion for a day and a half.

More this weekend.

Go Sox!

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