Red Sox start ascent

The Baltimore Sun

BOSTON -- One of the major questions heading into Game 1 of the 2007 World Series was whether an eight-day layoff would adversely affect the Colorado Rockies' hitters.

The answer remains inconclusive after the Boston Red Sox's 13-1 dismantling of the Rockies last night.

Because Boston ace Josh Beckett was that good. And tailing 97-mph fastballs perfectly placed on the outside corner are that impossible to hit.

At any time. Layoff or no layoff.

So it would be unfair to judge the rust quotient of the Rockies' hitters until tonight against a mere human hurler.

The Rockies' pitchers, however, made their own statement about the layoff. Now they may need another week of recovery after the beating they took. Every Red Sox starter reached base safely by the seven-run fifth inning. Eight had RBIs in the game. Eight scored runs. Three came in on bases-loaded walks.

"I think you saw a real good Beckett and you saw our inability to shut down anything," said Colorado manager Clint Hurdle, whose team had won 21 of its previous 22 games. "I'm not going to be able to answer [about the layoff's effects]. We're a no-excuse ballclub, always have been."

The 13 runs were the most scored in the first game of a World Series. And now recent history is firmly on Boston's side. Nine of the past 10 teams to win Game 1 also have won the World Series. During that span, six home teams have won Game 1 - and all were crowned World Series champions. But the Red Sox aren't thinking about history.

"We're smart enough to know [tonight's] game is what's ahead of us and that's all that matters," Boston manager Terry Francona said.

Beckett, Boston's ace and 20-game winner during the regular season, continued his incredible run in the postseason by befuddling the Rockies from the first pitch he threw to open the 103rd World Series.

He struck out the first four batters he faced - becoming just the third in World Series history to accomplish that, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers' Sandy Koufax (1963) and the St. Louis Cardinals' Mort Cooper (1943), who each struck out five.

"It kind of gets the mood set for these fans here; they get real excited," Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "Especially when there are three strikeouts [in an inning], they get even more excited and get Fenway Park rocking."

Colorado's fifth batter, Garrett Atkins, doubled and scored on a two-out double by Troy Tulowitzki. It was the only earned run Beckett would give up.

It also was the only time the Rockies could string two hits together in an inning against Beckett, who allowed one run and struck out nine in seven innings.

"He's been huge for us and, again, to win you have to have guys like that," Francona said. "Every time we have gone to him he has given us a great outing and we certainly hope that continues."

It was Beckett's fourth win in four October starts, the most victories in a single postseason for any pitcher in Red Sox history. He has given up four earned runs in 30 innings (1.20 ERA) and is 6-2 in 10 postseason outings in his career. He's better now than he was during a Cy Young-worthy regular season.

The onslaught started when rookie leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia hit the second pitch from Colorado starter Jeff Francis to the tip of the Green Monster - umpires correctly ruled that it landed above the yellow delineation line - for his second homer of the postseason and an immediate 1-0 Boston lead.

It marked the beginning of a five-hit, three-run first. Youkilis, who was one of six Red Sox with multiple hits, followed with a double and scored on Manny Ramirez's RBI single. Ramirez later scored on J.D. Drew's double.

The Red Sox added another in the second when Youkilis scored from second base on a liner by David Ortiz, that was one of a World Series record-setting 12 doubles by the two teams.

Francis, a 17-game-winner this season, was chased after four innings, allowing 10 hits and six runs. He fared better than rookie Franklin Morales, who entered - and left - in the fifth, facing nine batters and recording just two outs. He was charged with seven earned runs after Ryan Speier allowed three straight RBI walks.

Once again, Ramirez and Ortiz helped lead the way, reaching base a combined seven times in their first eight plate appearances. In 11 postseason games, the duo has reached base safely on 58 of their first 100 trips to the plate - an unfathomable .580 clip.

Yet right now, this postseason is Beckett's playground.

And it seemingly doesn't matter whom he is facing.

"I hope my teammates are happy," Beckett said. "That's who I am really here to please. If they're happy, I'm happy."

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad