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World Series preview

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It’s been a long season and now down to two teams left, the pieces are in place for the World Series to unfold before us. Statistically, both offenses and defenses matchup up very well against each other (Boston is on top in the offensive department and Colorado has had the superior pitching). What stands out in bold letters is EXPERIENCE and it sure isn’t in favor of the young Colorado squad.

Game 1 of the Fall Classic will begin on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Home field advantage goes to Boston, with most books installing the Sox as $2.05 favorites. Sportsbetting.com has tagged the Rockies as $1.80 underdogs, with Boston catching a $2.20 favorite price to take the Commissioner’s trophy (series price).

 
HEAD TO HEAD COMPARISONS
TEAM SU Run Line HOME AWAY OVER/UNDER
Colorado Rockies 90-73 98-65 51-31 39-42 82-74-7
Boston Red Sox 96-66 85-77 51-30 45-36 75-84-3
 
Colorado: Appearing in its first World Series since the franchise opened the doors into MLB in 1993, Colorado has been patiently waiting for the ALCS to conclude. With eight days of rest, it should be interesting to see how the Rockies leave the starting gate on Wednesday night.

The offense has been sporadic throughout the playoffs, doing just enough to allow the bullpen (the magic bullet for this club) to take Philadelphia and Arizona to the woodshed. The team’s bats have been relatively quiet, swinging for a .242 BA with 4.6 runs per game produced.

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The go-to guys for Colorado this postseason have been catcher Yorvit Torrealba (.320 BA, seven RBIs), second baseman Kazuo Matsui (.310, eight RBIs), right fielder Brad Hawpe (.304, two RBIs) and left fielder Matt Holliday (.286, seven RBIs). Once you get past the magnificent four, the batting order weakens. Four other starters in the batter's box are averaging a lackadaisical .171 BA.

In all fairness, the team batting average has taken a hit with pitchers failing to rack up one hit throughout the postseason. The biggest surprise in respects to falling on rough times is rooted in first baseman Todd Helton’s slump in a total of seven games. Helton is hitting a .154 BA with one RBI and six strikeouts. If the Rockies want to rise to the occasion, Helton needs to step up his level of play.

Overlapping into September, Colorado is 21-1 in its last 22 games.

From the bad to the good, the Rockies have been dominant in large part to their superb pitching staff. Starters Josh Fogg (2-0, 1.13) and Jeff Francis (2-0, 2.13) have been lights outs in each of their two starts, and closer Manny Corpas has put the exclamation mark on close contests with five saves in 8.2 innings of work.

The one anomaly that has baffled the bettor and fan siding with Colorado is right handed starter Ubaldo Jimenez’s inability to notch one win under his belt even after laboring for a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings. We’ve seen it before and I’ve mentioned it many times over the course of the season, but good pitching needs good hitting to accompany it. Run support has been skimp when Jimenez steps onto the mound.

Overall, the entire bullpen has collectively posted a 1.61 ERA with a WHIP of 0.82.

Fielding wise, the Rockies have lock down, giving up a low three errors during the playoffs, while the team’s .989fielding percentage was a major league record. Covering the ball for 1,842 assists ranked Colorado second best in the majors, and 68 total errors on the season was the best in the league. That’s getting things done right in the field.

Expected Starters: Jeff Francis (13 games since his last start) Game 1, Curt Schilling Game 2, Josh Fogg Game 3

Boston: Resilience, a solid starting rotation, pop at the plate from MMD (Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz) and great results from playing inside Fenway are key factors that have propelled the BoSox into the World Series for the second time in four years.

Rocking the ball for a team .304 BA with 6.7 runs crossing the plate per game, Boston definitely gets the thumbs up over Colorado in the offensive department. Coming off the ALCS win over the Indians, Kevin Youkilis, Ramirez, Ortiz and Lowell combined to make contact for an incredible .384 BA, while hammering in 28 RBIs (58-percent of the team’s RBI production).

Sure, Jason Varitek (.269, 4 RBIs), Julio Lugo (.200, two RBIs) and Coco Crisp (.143, no RBIs) have been dreadful, but the big boys stepping up to make things right have trumped the lack of performance from the No. 1 hitting slot down to the No. 9.

As strong as the swing has been for the Sox, pitching is where games are won or lost. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships and nothing could be more true then what starters Josh Beckett (3-0, 1.17 ERA) and Curt Schilling (2-0, 3.38) have done in their respective games pitched. The same can’t be said for the rest of the staff, with the team hovering at a high 3.60 ERA.

And the numbers continued to degrade in the ALCS, with the team’s hurlers working for an inflated 4.57 ERA. The lineup of arms pulling this team down include starters Daisuke Matsuzaka, reliever Eric Gagne and Tim Wakefield. If there’s one scab to pick on this squad it’s the middle relief. If the lumber falls silent against a tough pitching Rockies team, things could get bad for Boston.

But coming back from the dead when down 3-1 against the Tribe, cashing in with 30 runs in the last three games and starting the series in Fenway should all be favorable factors.

Expected Starters: Josh Beckett Game 1, Curt Schilling Game 2, Daisuke Matsuzaka Game 3

 
2007 Head to Head Meetings
Date Results Total
06/14/07 Colorado (+200) 7 @ Boston 1 UNDER 8.5
06/13/07 Colorado (+220) 12 @ Boston 2 OVER 10
06/12/07 Colorado 1 @ Boston (-185) 2 UNDER 10
Winners in BOLD

Prediction: Here we go. Boston is rallying after rebounding from Cleveland’s tight grasp in Game 4 of the ALCS. They’ve been a monster in their own home park and pitching has been very tight in the last three games. Overall, the Red Sox bullpen has faltered during the playoffs but the bats are alive again. With Beckett getting the nod (Beckett is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in Fenway this postseason) in Game 1, the Sox will continue its winning ways.

In Colorado’s defense, this club is playing lock down defense on the field (especially in comparison to the way J.D. Drew and Coco Crisp, who’s a bit gimpy after hitting the wall in Game 7 of the ALCS, have performed in the outfield), has a scary starting rotation (and bullpen) and can keep the game in its pocket when shutdown closer Manny Corpas takes over pitching duties.

If the Sox can manage to keep their pitching in check and the bats resume their liftoff status I just can’t see how the Rockies continue their heart warming success story. Crazier things have happened but this is the year for Red Sox Nation to savor another World Series victory. The train is moving with incredible force and Colorado will have little to no chance at stopping a Boston team looking to steam role its way to the champagne party.

If your interested in propositional bets, Bodog.com has priced tagged the following scenarios:

The series will end in 4 games - 17/4
The series will end in 5 games - 9/1
The series will end in 6 games - 9/5
The series will end in 7 games - 2/1

Boston wins in six games.


Joshua Jacobs can be reached at jacobs@vegasinsider.com.

  
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