2007 World Series
The Colorado Rockies made the World Series for the first time in franchise history, thanks to one of the most amazing late-season runs any team has ever enjoyed. Managed by Clint Hurdle, they won the Wild Card, just a half-game behind the A. L. West Arizona Diamondbacks, and only then after a single-game playoff against the San Diego Padres which ran to 13 innings! Just to get there, they had to win 13 of their last 14 games. Then they won the playoff game, and rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Phillies in the Division Series and sweeping the Diamondbacks for the pennant. They’d won 21 out of 22 games by the time they hit the World Series. They were either the juggernaut that no one could possibly stop, or – perhaps – a little exhausted and about to be hit by the law of averages.
Colorado set a major-league record for fielding percentage in a single season (.98925), topping the mark the Red Sox had just set the year before. The Rockies also had a good offense, with a team average of .280. They had Matt Holliday, whose 137 RBIs led the league (as did his .340 average) and who hit 36 home runs (he placed fourth), as well as Brad Hawpe (116 RBIs), Garrett Atkins (111), and Troy Tulowitzki who came in at 99. Holliday scored a club-leading 120 runs. Jeff Francis was 17-9, but only one other pitcher won in double digits except 10-9 Josh Fogg. A remarkable 22 pitchers had one or more wins. The team ERA was 4.32, perhaps partially reflecting the mile-high atmosphere in Coors Field.
The Red Sox had a 3.87 ERA and three pitchers with substantial win totals (Beckett at 20-7, Wakefield at 17-12, and Matsuzaka at 15-12). They had a comparable .279 batting average.
Dustin Pedroia led off in the bottom of the first and hit a home run off Jeff Francis on the second pitch thrown to the Red Sox. Josh Beckett had struck out the side in the top of the first. With two doubles and two singles, the Red Sox held a 3-1 lead before the inning was out. It was really all they needed. Beckett struck out two more Rockies in the second, but Atkins doubled and Tulowitzki doubled to put one run on the board. That was all they ever got. It was mostly doubles and walks that scored runs for the Red Sox, and by the time the seven-run fifth inning was in the books, it was 13-1. There had been a remarkable stretch when reliever Ryan Speier came in with the bases loaded and walked the only three batters he faced. Every one of those runs was charged to his predecessor, Franklin Morales.
Game Two wasn’t the opposite in the ultimate outcome, but the final score was as close as scores get, 2-1. Curt Schilling hit the first batter of the game, who came around and scored on a single, and error, and a groundout. Schilling pitched the first 5 1/3, giving up only that one run. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon threw 3 2/3 innings of one-hit relief. The two Red Sox runs scored on a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a double from Mike Lowell in the fifth. It was a tough-luck loss for Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez, who had only given up three hits.
Coors Field didn’t help the Rockies much. They did score five runs, but by the time they started scoring, the Red Sox already had six on the board. All six came across in the top of the third, all off starter Josh Fogg. Ortiz doubled in one, Lowell doubled in two, and even Daisuke Matsuzaka got in the act, first-pitch hitting and singling in two runs to help his own cause. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in the sixth run. Two walks in the bottom of the sixth resulted in runs after Dice-K was replaced. And Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer off Okajima in the seventh. The Red Sox added three more in the eighth and one in the ninth. It was 10-5, Red Sox.
The Rockies’ dramatic season came to an end, as they were swept by the Red Sox in Game Four. Aaron Cook started, and Jon Lester pitched for the Red Sox. An Ellsbury double and an Ortiz single scored one run in the first. A Lowell double and a Varitek single made it 2-0 in the fifth. Mike Lowell – named Series MVP after the game – homered to lead off the seventh. 3-0. It was the first in a series of four homers: Brad Hawpe put a run on the board with one off Manny Delcarmen in the bottom of the seventh. Boston’s Bobby Kielty, in the one World Series at-bat of his career, homered to lead off the top of the eighth. That gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead, a one-run margin after Atkins hit a two-run homer off Okajima in the bottom of the eighth. The bottom of the ninth was three straight outs recorded by Papelbon. The Red Sox had won their second World Series in four years, after waiting 86 years between championships. The Rockies still held claim to the astonishing 22-1 record getting them to the single-game playoff and through the first two rounds. They just ran out of steam, or luck, or hit a team that was on a streak of its own. Boston had won seven playoff games in a row, and – counting 2004 – eight World Series games in a row.
By Bill Nowlin