10/25/07 2:14 AM ET
Solid as a rock
Beckett, bats come out blazing vs. Rockies in Game 1
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
In fact, the Sox looked like relentless world beaters on that stage in Wednesday night's Game 1, putting on a hitting and pitching clinic in a 13-1 romp over the Colorado Rockies.
Eight days, on the other hand -- which is how long the Rockies had to wait around for their first appearance in the World Series -- looked like way more than they wanted or needed.
When Josh Beckett (seven innings, six hits, one run, nine strikeouts) wasn't blowing fastballs right by the rusty Rockies or freezing them with his curveball and changeup, the zoned-in Boston bats were sending whistling liners all over the Fenway Park outfield and making lefty Jeff Francis look un-ace-like.
"I don't think anybody took an at-bat off tonight," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who set the tone as much as Beckett by leading off the first with a homer in his first World Series at-bat. "Everyone is trying to get a good pitch to hit, and if they don't get it, they're not swinging."
It was as if the latter stages of the American League Championship Series segued right into the World Series. If you recall, the Red Sox completed their comeback from 3-1 down against the Indians by throttling their opponent by an aggregate score of 30-5 in the final three games.
Make that 43-6 in the past four games.
"For us, we definitely have a lot of momentum going," said first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has been on fire since the day the postseason started. "I think those last three games against the Indians, we were rolling on all cylinders. Guys were feeling a little more comfortable at the plate."
The Sox, who became the first team in postseason history to score more than 10 runs in three straight games, are now 8-3 in October and are three victories away from their second World Series championship in four seasons.
"We're playing at the highest level right now," said Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo. "Our defense, our pitching, our hitting, it's at the highest level right now."
Clearly, there is no higher level of pitching than what Beckett is delivering this October. In four starts, he is 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA. Lifetime in postseason, he is 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA. Third baseman Mike Lowell has been with him for every one of those games.
"It's something special," said Lowell. "I saw it in '03 [with the Marlins]. I thought that was the best three-week stretch I had seen by any pitcher. He's putting a good comparison to that so far this postseason."
All year long, the Red Sox have prided themselves on their pitching and their defense. But at just the right time, the offense is peaking. Boston scorched nine doubles in this one to set a World Series record.
Youkilis, who is hitting .422 in the postseason, went 2-for-5 and scored three runs. David Ortiz scored twice and had two hits, both doubles, while driving in two. Manny Ramirez continues to be Manny, slamming three hits and scoring three times. Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew and Lugo (3-for-4) all had multi-hit games.
"I think for us, tonight, we went out and put together good at-bats and made Francis work a little bit," said Youkilis. "I think that was the biggest thing, for us to score early and often."
"I thought, offensively, the whole night we did a good job taking what [Francis] gave us, laying off pitches out of the zone, and even a couple innings when he got a couple outs, we didn't let him off the hook and have quick innings, and we prolonged innings with two strikes, two outs," manager Terry Francona said. "We took our walks, [and] when the ball was in the zone, [we] took some pretty good swings."
The Rockies were feeling pretty good about themselves back when they were in regular "play mode," having won 21 of 22 coming into this World Series, the first in the history of the franchise. But the combination of eight days off and ending the hiatus by facing Beckett was not a good recipe to continue the momentum.
Beckett came out blazing, striking out the first four batters he faced, becoming the third pitcher in Fall Classic history to pull off that feat.
"You just try to stay the same, go out there and execute pitch by pitch and don't try to get ahead of yourself," said Beckett.
Beckett's Red Octobers
|* -- Relief appearance|
Beckett had plenty of help in this one. The Boston bats came out equally hot. Pedroia led off the bottom of the first inning by belting a solo homer that cleared the Green Monster by inches. Pedroia became the second player in World Series history to lead off the first inning of Game 1 with a homer, joining Don Buford (1969 Orioles).
"I didn't think too much about it," Pedroia said. "I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and get on base, and I was fortunate enough that it got out."
The Red Sox didn't stop there against Francis. Youkilis roped a double to right-center. With one out, Ramirez laced an RBI single to left. Drew stroked an RBI double into the corner in right and the Rockies were in the last place they wanted to be -- trailing Beckett by three runs.
The Rockies tried to hang tough against Beckett. With one out in the second, Garret Atkins hit a towering double off the Green Monster. With one out, Troy Tulowitzki took aim the Monster, scoring Atkins with a double of his own.
But that didn't carry over. Beckett took a three-hitter into the sixth.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox continued to hit. Youkilis got a second-inning rally started with a two-out walk. Ortiz followed by driving him home with a double, making it 4-1.
Francis just couldn't settle in, giving up two more in the fourth. The Red Sox broke it open with seven in the fifth.
"When you have a game plan like we have every night, it's kind of fun to watch," said Beckett. "Every time they go up there, they're trying to see five or six pitches, and they grind pitchers out. Not too many guys last."
Beckett? There seems to be no end to his greatness in this postseason. His next turn is slated for Game 5 at Coors Field. If that game is necessary, Beckett would have a chance to become the first pitcher in history to win five starts in one postseason.
"Maybe 20 years down the road, they'll be mentioning guys that do good things in October and saying it looks like a Beckett postseason," said Lowell. "That's as dominating as he's been. I'm just really happy that he's been on my team the last two postseasons, because I'd rather not face him."
The Boston batters aren't a whole lot of fun to face either, but the mood in the clubhouse after the game was even-keeled, just like it was when the Red Sox were down 3-1 in the ALCS against the Indians.
"We have to just put this away and try to maintain the same intensity [in Game 2]," said Lowell.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.