For the first time during these playoffs I am not 100% confident that the Red Sox are going to win a game. Now before people start calling me a fair-weathered fan, give me a chance to explain.
Being up 2-0 in the series, I feel that the pressure is now on Boston. The Rockies are in a big hole to a more experienced team. But unlike most teams in baseball, the Rockies seem to play better when their backs are against the wall. The Rockies can go out and just let it rip. They can be aggressive at the plate and take chances on the basepaths. People are already writing them off, so what do they have to lose?
Colorado has scored two runs in the series. Nobody can really believe that this is the best the Rockies have to offer. This is a team loaded with guys that can play and that are eager to show some offense. And tonight they’re playing at Coors Field in front of 50,000 fans. If this doesn’t give the Rockies the boost they need, nothing will.
Which brings me to Boston. I have been going back and forth since game two on who I think should start at first base for the Red Sox. This was like if someone asked which of my kids was my favorite. Who do you pick? Big Papi or Youk. This had to be a really tough decision for Francona. My initial thoughts were to go with Youkilis. He plays great defense and has been crushing the ball. The defense is particularly important in a bigger park like Coors Field.
Big Papi, on the other hand, is arguably the greatest postseason hitter in MLB history. He may not be a Gold Glover, but he has proven to be a decent first baseman. Every time I think Papi can’t play first base well, I remember the 2004 World Series. Game three, St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Suppan rounded third base too far and was promptly picked off by Ortiz on a great throw. I understand why Francona kept Big Papi in the lineup, but I just know I am going to worry every time he has a ball thrown or hit to him. Francona has stuck by his guns all year with regards to who plays and hasn’t been wrong yet. I’m counting on him that this is the right decision.
Another reason for my concern is Dice K pitching tonight. Although he pitched pretty well in game seven against the Indians in the ALCS, I never know what to expect from him. To make matter worse, Dice K doesn’t like pitching in cold weather, and with the forecasters predicting temperatures in the 40′s for tonight’s game, this could pose a huge problem for Boston. Another point of concern is the thin Colorado air that toys with pitches. Balls don’t break like they are supposed to. Balls that are supposed to break out of the strike zone will come right down the pipe on a silver platter. With a pitcher like Dice K, who relies on off-speed pitches and breaking balls, this could be a big problem. Let’s hope the extra day he has spent in Colorado has prepared him for tonight.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Sox have a two-game lead in the World Series. They have been getting great pitching from the starters and the bullpen and getting a lot of runners on base. As an added bonus, Boston will face Josh Fogg tonight. A light-throwing pitcher that relies on nibbling around the plate, he reminds me of a really poor man’s Jamie Moyer. With a lineup like Boston’s, this has the potential to resemble batting practice.
The key for Boston tonight is not to play “safe” baseball. They need to continue to do the things that have got them to this point: patience at the plate, making pitchers work for their strikes, and capitalizing on mistakes.
If Boston can do these things and win tonight, pull out your broom. The series is over.