Why the Rockies lost to the Red Sox

They were outscored, 29-10. Daisuke Matsuzaka drove in more runs than Todd Helton, Yorvit Torrealba turned into a pumpkin, and the Red Sox just never stopped hitting. Sure, it’s only four games, but a .333/.411/.525 line is, as they would say in Boston, wicked.

Not a lot of mystery here.

Colorado lost because the Red Sox had superior hitting and pitching. In my preview, I said that “the Rockies need a lot of things to go right” to win the World Series, noting that “what they’ve got going in their favor is the fact that over the past five or so weeks, virtually everything has gone right.”

Well, everything stopped going right. The Red Sox had the better team, and they played like it.

Too much everything

In Game 1, the Rockies ran into too much Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, and—let’s be honest—pretty much everyone else in a Boston uniform. Alex Cora got into the game or, as one colleague of mine put it, even Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless inning.

Colorado’s best pitcher, Jeff Francis, got smacked around early and often. His replacement, erstwhile starter Franklin Morales, was treated even more rudely in his Fenway debut.

I’m not big on the idea that one game in a series “makes a statement”—look at what the Yankees did to Pittsburgh in 1960 before dropping the World Series—but this was a pretty serious spanking, the likes of which the Rockies hadn’t seen in a very long time. The last time Colorado lost a game by 12 runs had been on July 1 at Houston. The Rockies fell to 39-43 with that loss and were barely recognizable as a team that would ultimately reach the postseason.

Jimenez loses the plate

Game two could have been interesting if not for Ubaldo Jimenez‘ extreme wildness. Actually, even so, it was interesting, mostly because the Red Sox had trouble cashing in on all the walks. Sure, both runs that scored were credited to guys who’d reached base via walk, but things could’ve been a lot worse—they did leave 12 runners on base.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, their hitters couldn’t solve Curt Schilling, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox never put Colorado away when they had the chance, but in the end, it didn’t matter.

Third verse, same as the first

Game three was a repeat of game one, only with a stretch in the sixth and seventh innings where Colorado showed signs of life. The Rockies managed to puncture the seemingly impenetrable Boston bullpen, but the Red Sox returned the favor and held on to win, demonstrating yet again how difficult it is to overcome seven hits from the top two guys in the lineup.

The home-crowd euphoria from Matt Holliday‘s three-run homer in the seventh might be among the shortest lived in baseball history. When Brian Fuentes gave those runs right back in the eighth, it served as a potent reminder that there is more to winning than simply believing one can do it.

Mismatch in the ninth

In game four, the Rockies got to Boston’s relievers again, but it was a case of too little, too late. Aaron Cook, seeing his first game action since the second week in August, pitched a great game, but Jon Lester did enough to keep Colorado’s hitters off balance and off the scoreboard.

The Rockies, for their part, helped Lester. In both the second and third innings, they got a man to second with less than two out. Neither situation resulted in a run. That can’t happen at Coors Field (or anywhere, really).

The ninth inning pretty much encapsulated the series—you had Papelbon, one of the best closers in the game, going up against Torrealba, Jamey Carroll and Seth Smith. All the belief in the world isn’t going to make that a fair fight.

In the end, the series, like the ninth inning of game four, wasn’t a fair fight. A team that had gotten hot at the right time and ridden momentum longer than anyone could have imagined ran into an absolute buzzsaw, with suitably messy results.

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