No surprise Rockies rocked after layoff

World Series

October 25, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

BOSTON — BOSTON-- --This is the first thing that popped into my mind after the Boston Red Sox made the Colorado Rockies look like so many purple pinstriped pinatas last night at Fenway Park:

I sure hope the Ravens get more out of their bye week than the Rockies got out of theirs.

The Rocks were on an unprecedented roll when they were forced to cool their heels for eight days leading up to their first World Series. They had won 21 of their past 22 games and dispatched the Arizona Diamondbacks so quickly in the National League Championship Series that they could have had their pennant celebration on a cruise ship if they were so inclined.

The ridiculous length of that layoff spawned all kinds of theories, the most obvious being that they would have a difficult time maintaining that level of on-field momentum through such an extended period of inactivity.

Well, duh.

The last thing you want to do when you can't stop winning is to stop playing. I never passed physics, but I'm pretty sure it's easier to maintain momentum when the object in question is in motion.

The Rockies sat around for more than a week and then came back to find that - surprise, surprise - the pendulum had changed directions. It swung back so hard, in fact, that they're probably still wondering what hit them.

Red Sox ace Josh Beckett struck out the side in the first inning and looked every bit as overpowering as he had in each of his other postseason starts, which was the first clue that all that Rocky Mountain magic had evaporated since the NLCS.

The proof came soon thereafter, when diminutive Dustin Pedroia hit the second pitch from Rockies starter Jeff Francis over the Green Monster to initiate what would become the worst Game 1 beating in the history of the World Series.

It got so bad that at one point during a seven-run Boston rally in the fifth, I wondered if the Rockies had accidentally given Dave Trembley a contract extension before the game.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle did all he could to minimize the impact of the layoff, but there's only so much you can get out of intrasquad games and simulated pitching performances. He insisted Tuesday that it was not a major preoccupation for the team and ended discussion of the issue by proclaiming that the Rockies would not "apologize for winning quickly."

Last night, they were left to apologize for losing ugly and hope that Game 1 was an isolated incident. No one can say for sure if it happened because they got so much time off for good behavior.

"You can ask me all series long about the eight-day layoff, and I am not going to be able to give you an answer," Hurdle said. "We're a no-excuse ballclub."

The 12-run margin of victory was the largest ever in Game 1, but the Rockies can take some consolation that the two teams that shared the previous mark (the 1959 Chicago White Sox and 1996 Atlanta Braves) both ended up losing the World Series.

The one good thing about losing a laugher is that it counts the same as a one-run loss, and it wasn't as if the Rockies were favored to beat Beckett in the first place. If they can take advantage of Curt Schilling's diminished velocity tonight, they still could wrest away home-field advantage before the Series moves to Coors Field this weekend.

Of course, that presupposes that there is no psychological fallout from the lopsided nature of Game 1. The Rockies came in as a decided underdog, and now they've been stripped of their amazing hot streak and left to sort out a savage beating. Yet Hurdle seemed unconcerned afterward.

"That isn't the way we drew it up," he said, " ... [but] one of the strengths this club has had over the season is our confidence has not been shaken by one game or one series."

Maybe so, but it has been quite a while since their confidence has been tested like this.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on most Saturdays and Sundays.

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