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Home » 2007 PostseasonOctober 2007 » Domination


World Series Game 1: October 24, 2007
Rockies 1 L: Jeff Francis (2-1) NLDS: 3-0
NLCS: 4-0
World Series: 0-1
WinRed Sox 13 W: Josh Beckett (4-0) ALDS: 3-0
ALCS: 4-3
World Series: 1-0
Highlights: Carl Yastrzemski throwing out the ceremonial pitch along with his 1967 teammates summoned the specter of that well-fought World Series. The warrior nonpareil from that year belonged to the enemy camp. I have only heard stories of Bob Gibson and his postseason dominance. Until I looked up his numbers I almost didn’t believe them, but those remarkable nine starts happened: seven complete games, one 10-inning tilt, and one eight-inning loss. Ninety-two strikeouts, 16 bases on balls, two World Series MVP awards. Gibson has six starts with a game score of 75 or more. Beckett has four, two each from 2003 and 2007. Last night Beckett’s game score was “only” 69 and the Rockies had many hard outs that fortuitously fell into defenders’ gloves. But the seven-inning, nine-strikeout win further solidified Beckett’s big game reputation, chiseling his name into a prestigious monument to playoff pitching excellence. This time, the chiefest combatant plays for the Red Sox.

Watching Dustin Pedroia launch a leadoff longball into the Monster seats in the first inning of the first game of the World Series, one couldn’t tell he was a rookie.

One can hardly tell he is a major league player at all. Not only is he a regular-looking guy, he’s even smaller than your average American male.

What is irregular is how his body type didn’t preclude him from climbing through the minor league ranks in the Red Sox organization. The organization stresses production and patience above all, placing a premium on these things where other clubs obsess over demographics.

Does height really matter when one has the reflexes to turn on a plus fastball, follow the break of a offspeed stuff, and field your position well enough so that you don’t give up as many runs as you produce?

The answer is, of course, no. Especially when you are the first rookie smack a leadoff four-bagger.

It wasn’t the undersized greenhorn who shrunk to the occasion but rather the entire roster of the NL Champion Rockies. As cozy as Fenway is, Colorado was overwhelmed by the spectacle. At full capacity Coors Field holds 50,445, but in Denver the stands are populated by dilettantes. Most of them have been pining away for John Elway and cursing Bill Belichick’s dominion over Mike Shanahan for years now.

That the quaint Rockies from that antiquated sport have chanced upon success at last is an autumnal distraction to denizens of the Mile-High City until this Monday. Last night’s rout may have sent these ersatz followers scurrying to the football section of the Denver Post.

Fenway’s 38,805 mockingly chanting Jeff Francis’s name must have come as a shock. Who would think that hearing one’s name invoked by tens of thousands would conjure up exactly the wrong kind of shivers up one’s spine?

Until Wednesday evening, Francis had barely broken a sweat in his two playoff starts. Both were quality outings that anchored sweeps in their divisional and championship series sweeps. In one inning of the Fall Classic the young southpaw saw his earned run total double to six.

Francis lasted three innings more and the Red Sox scored in all but one of those frames. Boston batters broke the World Series record for two-baggers in a game with eight; five of the doubles drove in runs, two of them advanced runners on base, and the only double that came with the bases empty was Kevin Youkilis’s in the first, which followed Pedroia’s homer.

Those few days of warm-ups preceding the Worlds Series and the three games in June the Rockies visited did very little to familiarize the Rockies with their quarries’ domain. Whatever magic they had when they shellacked Josh Beckett on June 14 had evaporated into thin air even though they were making solid contact against the ace. Beckett bent but didn’t break, surrendering long and loud outs that caromed off the wall (with no one on with one exception) or into the gloves of his defenders.

The exception was Troy Tulowitzki in the second. The novice shortstop is the physical specimen that Pedroia isn’t, but he is not just tools bundled in a pleasing package. Tulowitzki matches the diminutive middle infielder’s keen plate awareness and might be the Rookie of the Year for the senior circuit. He doubled off the top of the scoreboard to plate Garrett Atkins. Atkins’s double missed bringing the ladder on the left field wall into play by feet.

In sharp contrast to Colorado’s spotty success, every Boston hitter except Jacoby Ellsbury had a hit and all of them had either an RBI or run to their credit.

The touted bullpen, featuring a terrible duo of Franklin Morales and Ryan Speier, put the game out of reach for their teammates in the fifth. The local nine batted around; Morales provided the meatballs for base hits and Speier the special sauce of three consecutive run-scoring walks. Clint Hurdle found reprieve at last in Matt Herges who induced a fly out off the bat of Youkilis.

Instead it was the less-heralded pair of Mike Timlin and Eric Gagne (whose name I can type without anger, for the moment) who pitched perfectly to ice the Rockies’ ten-game win streak.

Coco Crisp (now relegated to talking about tacos with Royce Clayton on the bench), Alex Cora, and Eric Hinske saw time in the blowout. Kyle Snyder, who replaced Tim Wakefield on the World Series roster, kept beat as usual in the home pen, known amongst relief crew as the Black Pearl.

And the beat goes on.

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