Rockies look back, forward to Beckett
Rox rocked Sox ace June 14; players have history of success
DENVER -- Colorado manager Clint Hurdle is a man of many sayings, and one of them goes like this:"We prepare for our future through our pasts." If so, the Rockies' immediate World Series future against Red Sox ace Josh Beckett is rosy. Beckett has become such an intimidating postseason weapon that the Red Sox held him over the Indians' heads throughout Sunday night's Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, even though there appeared little realistic chance that he would pitch in relief -- and thus jeopardize his availability for Game 1 of the World Series, which he then would have had to start on two days' rest. But the Rockies don't feel intimidated. It isn't just the recent past, when, in an Interleague game on June 14 at Fenway Park, they subjected Beckett to his worst beating of the season while handing him his first defeat after a 9-0 start. It took only five innings for the Rockies to reach him for 10 hits and six runs -- the most the leading AL Cy Young Award candidate allowed in any of his 30 regular-season starts. Key members of Colorado's lineup have had remarkable career successes against the one-time ace of the Florida Marlins. As a team, the Rockies have hit Beckett at a .358 clip, paced by Matt Holliday (6-for-14) and Garrett Atkins (6-for-10) -- who led that June 14 demolition with a third-inning grand slam. "I remember that game a little bit," said rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who contributed a single. "He has great stuff, but we have some good hitters, so it should make for a good battle." Beckett was misplacing his great stuff in that start against Colorado, recalled Ryan Spilborghs, who played in center field as Willy Taveras took a breather as the DH. Spilborghs now is one of Hurdle's options at DH for the first two Classic games in Boston. "Part of it was that he was constantly behind in the count," Spilborghs said. "When he fell behind, we were able to hit his fastball. You make a mistake to any of our guys, throw it down the middle no matter how hard, we're going to hit it. "Obviously, if he can get ahead, he has so many pitches to work with, it makes it difficult. The day we beat him, it was just because he was behind and made bad pitches." Also, because it was June. Beckett now is on his second chapter of authoring a remarkable reputation as an October pitcher. "He'll be a challenge, just like any other starting pitcher is in the postseason," Holliday said. "We'll have to find a way to score a few runs off him and help Jeff [Francis, the Rockies' Game 1 starter] match him.
"[Beckett] is a great pitcher with great postseason experience and success. It will be a fun matchup, and I'm already excited about it."Tulowitzki, who admits to having watched the ALCS games with a scout's intensity, saw a different Beckett than he saw from the Fenway Park batter's box four months ago. "He has great stuff, throws hard, and has great command of four, five pitches," Tulowitzki said. "And he throws in and out. [He has] just a great sinking curve. But, more than anything, it's the way he competes out there on the mound." Come Wednesday night, the Rockies' fortunes may depend on which of Beckett's split personalities they encounter. Beckett apparently considers himself a chameleon on the mound. "Throughout the course of a season, I can be between 30 and 35 different people," Beckett said Sunday night, upon accepting the ALCS MVP Award. "Between the first couple of innings, you're trying to figure out which guy you are. "If you're going to get to me, generally the first inning is when I'm trying to figure out who I'll be that day." On June 14, the Rockies contributed to Beckett's personality crisis with a quick first-inning run on three hits, the middle of them Todd Helton's RBI single. Asked why his boys have had such good success against Beckett, Hurdle chortled and said, "I don't know. I didn't face him -- but if I did, I don't think my numbers against him would be too good. "I think we caught him without his best stuff. With a lot of top pitchers, it's just a matter of when you catch them." Late October, on a World Series stage, doesn't seem to be the optimum time or place to catch Beckett. Yet the Rockies have the past credentials to embolden them for that immediate future.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.