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Oct. 24, 2007

Rockies v. Red Sox - World Series 2007 preview

by Andrew Kung, Online Sports Editor and Copy Editor and Elsi Wu, Online Sports Editor
After six long months of cap-wearing, hot dog-eating, peanut-crunching baseball goodness, the World Series is finally upon us. As the Rockies and Red Sox prepare to step on to baseball's greatest stage, the SCO experts are here to help you get ready with a breakdown of the heated match-up.

National League: Colorado Rockies

Road to the World Series:
Def. San Diego Padres in one-game wild card playoff
Def. Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 in NLDS
Def. Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0 in NLCS

Why the Rockies will win:
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton celebrates after Colorado reaches their first World Series in franchise history.

<i>Photo courtesy of AP Photo/David Zalubowski via Yahoo! Sports.</i>
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton celebrates after Colorado reaches their first World Series in franchise history. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/David Zalubowski via Yahoo! Sports.

The Rockies have been rolling, sweeping their way into the World Series with one of the most impressive streaks in recent memory, going from cellar dweller just a year ago to capturing the National League pennant with ease. Colorado has won 21 of their past 22, including a current 10-game winning streak. The weeklong layoff while waiting for the AL playoffs is undoubtedly a major question mark, but the Sox in their first World Series in franchise history won't let their high-riding emotions let up. Veteran first baseman Todd Helton, by far the longest tenured player, has a renewed spring in his step after all the terrible years he has endured. Their defense has been impeccable and their bullpen has been untouchable. The Rockies have roughed up aces Jake Peavy, Cole Hamels and Brandon Webb en route to the Fall Classic, so matchups against Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling are not nearly as daunting. "Rocktober" is in full swing, and it'll take a lot to derail this train.

The Coors Field Factor
During the regular season, the Rockies had the third-best home record in all of baseball despite a slow start. Coors Field has developed a reputation as being a tremendous hitter's park, and remains so despite the humidor balls. As a team, the Rockies hit 37 points better at home with 35 more homers, as the Mile High air and outfield gaps play into the strengths of sluggers like Todd Helton and Matt Holliday. Home field advantage is even more of a factor when playing a team like the Red Sox, who without the DH, will have to play David Ortiz either at first base or not at all in Colorado. Defense is already one of the holes for the Sox, and having Big Papi man the bag (heftily) won't help.

Young Talent
Colorado's prospect stockpiling has finally paid off, after years languishing in the cellar of the National League. Outfielder Matt Holliday is a leading candidate for NL MVP after batting .340 with 36 homers and 137 RBIs in the regular season and adding four more dingers in seven postseason games thus far. Sluggers Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins have emerged as dangerous lumberjacks. Rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has had a tremendous year as well, hitting 24 homers while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Closer Manny Corpas, another rookie, has been lights-out in the ninth, picking up five saves and a win with a paltry 1.06 ERA in seven postseason games, and starter Jeff Francis has emerged as an October ace, boasting a 2.13 ERA and two wins in the postseason.

Pitcher Aaron Cook has to shake the rust off of his arm to give the Rockies a chance at the pennant. <i> Photo courtesy of MLB.</i>
Pitcher Aaron Cook has to shake the rust off of his arm to give the Rockies a chance at the pennant. Photo courtesy of MLB.
X-factor: Colorado SP Aaron Cook

Cook hasn't pitched since August 10, but the Opening Day starter for the Rockies is currently slated to start Game 4 at Coors. Although reports indicate that he has looked sharp in rehabbing a strained muscle, starting in the World Series is a completely different matter. It's a gutsy move by manager Clint Hurdle, but the five-year vet can pay big dividends for the young Rockies rotation if he can deliver solid innings before turning it over to the hot Rockies bullpen. In his one prior appearance against the Red Sox last June, Cook pitched seven-plus innings of two run ball but took the loss in a 2-1 game. If Cook can deliver a similar performance, the Rockies are in good shape for Game 4.

American League: Boston Red Sox

Road to the World Series:
Def. LA Angels 3-0 in the ALDS
Def. Cleveland Indians 4-3 in the ALCS

Why the Red Sox will win:
Josh Beckett and the Red Sox bullpen will need to work to upend the Rockies power offense. <i>Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Charles Krupa.</i>
Josh Beckett and the Red Sox bullpen will need to work to upend the Rockies power offense. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Charles Krupa.

Power pitching
Take an international sensation, a playoff allstar, a legendary veteran, a hotshot closer and throw them all together and you get the Red Sox bullpen. Although Matsuzaka may have his gyroball and Schilling his bloody sock, look for Josh Beckett to be the pitching highlight of the series. The man is unbeatable in the playoffs; the reigning ALCS MVP touts a spotless 3-0 record and an ERA of 1.17. Beckett knows the post-season routine like the back of his hand (or glove) and in high-pressure games, experience trumps all…but the jaw-dropping pitching won't hurt either.

Can't touch this
The Red Sox roster is like reading a who's-who of baseball today. Even youngsters J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury have become household names with their clutch performances in the ALCS. When superstars David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez fell short, Youkilis, Lowell and Pedroia were there to pick up the slack. The team is patient at the plate and always comes away with either a hit or an extended at-bat which will tire out an already rusty Rockies pitching staff.

Luck of the Irish
With the curse lifted, the Red Sox are more ready to make up for lost time. Just three years removed from their last World Series appearance and win, the Sox are knocking at the door again along with the millions-strong Red Sox Nation. Even in dire situations, like being three games behind and facing elimination, never count the Sox out.

Kevin Youkilis drives one home to help send the Red Sox back to the World Series. <i> Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.</i>
Kevin Youkilis drives one home to help send the Red Sox back to the World Series. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
X-factor: Boston 1B Kevin Youkilis

Going to the World Series with the Red Sox for the second time, crowd favorite Kevin Yoooooooouk(ilis) is a force to be reckoned with on both offense and defense. Flawless at first base, Youkilis is a cornerstone of the Boston defense. But his most impressive showing this post-season has been at the plate. Youkilis batted .500 with 3 homers in the ALCS and helped jumpstart the Red Sox's slumping offense with the patience and restraint of a veteran. A possible lineup change in Games 3, 4 and 5 threatens to bench Youkilis in favor of DH David Ortiz, but given Youkilis' shut-down dominance at first base and Ortiz's nagging knee injury, manager Terry Francona has a lot to think about.

Bold Predictions:

Andrew says:
Colorado in 6 - The Rockies won't sweep, but have enough juice to win three at home and steal one at Fenway based on their streaking sluggers, stout defense and lights-out bullpen. It's been quite a transformation in Denver - perennial league laughingstock to potential World Series champion in a matter of years.

Elsi says:
Boston in 7 - With the Rockies clicking on all cylinders right now, expect the series to go all seven games. The thin Colorado air, the loss of starting pitcher Tim Wakefield and the lineup adjustments for the games at Coors Field may pose serious issues for the Red Sox, but the team's enormous depth and experience will pull them through.

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  • Souf Bronx on October 26, 2007 at 8:20 AM
    elsi's just flat wrong. socks are about to get rocked.
  • go sox on October 27, 2007 at 5:19 PM
    how about sox in 4
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