10/22/07 1:00 AM ET
World Series breakdown: Red Sox
Home-field advantage could be the difference for Boston
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
To be sure, these Red Sox are no "Idiots," though some of the holdovers will still never need to pay for a beer within the city limits. With Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz still flexing, and two former World Series MVPs in the rotation, the Red Sox have a good chance of recapturing 2004's magic. You can bet they'd love to roll over Colorado the same way they rolled over the Cardinals.
Don't expect the Rockies to play along, especially with the current hot streak they're on. Colorado, though, could be plagued by some grogginess from an eight-day layoff while the Red Sox and Indians clawed out the ALCS.
But the Red Sox have been strong at home, playing .630 ball at Fenway Park during the regular season. That trend hasn't let up in the postseason, as they're 5-1 on Yawkey Way after beating the Tribe in Game 7 of the ALCS. Games 1 and 2 could be the difference in this series.
"It's part of Fenway," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "You get to the seventh inning and the opposing pitcher throws Ball 1, and you can feel the place shake. I remember that as a visitor. There's not too many places in baseball where you really feel like that. Yankee Stadium can somewhat feel that way, but nothing like Fenway."
Key late-game matchup
Alex Cora has seen the most of Rockies setup man Brian Fuentes, logging seven plate appearances against the left-hander. In five official at-bats, Cora has come through with two hits, including a triple, though he hasn't seen Fuentes since 2004 when the second baseman was playing with Los Angeles. Fuentes has also hit Cora twice.
Red Sox secret weapon
Red Sox Achilles' heel
There are two ways to look at J.D. Drew's season. It's been a major disappointment from all angles, but perhaps Drew turned the tide and got some confidence back with his Game 6 ALCS grand slam. Still, he didn't have a hit in 11 at-bats against Rockies pitchers this season and hasn't fared particularly well against any Colorado hurler, save for Jeff Francis, against whom he is 3-for-10.
Red Sox manager: Terry Francona
Francona continues to try to balance the hot-and-heavy expectations of New England's most devoted fan base with preparing his club for duty, juggling his lineup periodically and fighting through whatever extraneous circumstances may exist. Francona doesn't always keep it under wraps and can show his frustration, but for the most part, he avoids the second-guessing that runs rampant.
Red Sox intangibles
Down three games to one to the Indians, the Red Sox didn't panic. They're a different team than the 2004 club that rallied from the dead against the Yankees and steamrolled the Cardinals to kill the "1918" chants, but if being manhandled by Cleveland early didn't faze them, who's to say the Rockies can?
Three reasons the Red Sox will win
If you're a believer in momentum, the Red Sox come into this series having swung from their backs against the wall, winning three straight over the Indians to force their way into the World Series. The Rockies, meanwhile, may have cooled off their historic run some after waiting eight days to play another game. Look what happened to the Tigers in 2006, losing the World Series to the Cardinals after a five-day layoff. The Red Sox aren't afraid to take pitches and make the Rockies stand around some more.
Home-field advantage. It's not just Fenway Park. Say what you want about the humidor at Coors Field equalizing things, but the Rockies' collective slugging percentage still dropped significantly (85 points) in gray uniforms during the regular season. Boston's fell 41 points away from Fenway.
Manny being Manny. If we're to take Ramirez's word, he wasn't staying up nights worrying that the Red Sox might lose the ALCS; hey, there's always next year. That kind of mindset is what makes him so dangerous on this stage, and a cursory glance at his ALDS and ALCS stats this season are evidence enough. If the Rockies pitchers don't locate, Lansdowne Street is a likely destination.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.