2007 World Series
Rox versus Sox in the 2007 World Series.
Find that written anywhere during Spring Training, you won't. The surprise of the year most certainly wore purple & black. The "very good team on a magical roll", as described by Sox General Manager Theo Epstein, won twenty-one of their last twenty-two regular season games, had a team earned run average of 2.05, a bullpen earned run average of 1.55, and set a new Major League record for best fielding percentage by a team during the regular season. Good pitching & good fielding, a winning formula that finally brought Todd Helton to the Fall Classic — magical just might be an understatement.
The Red Sox are "good at drama", again spoken by Epstein, and proved it during the regular season, the Division Series & the 7-game League Championship comeback of the year. They too used the winning formula and had the best earned run average in the American League and second best fielding percentage. Mix in some truly savvy veterans with serious depth of experience and they too could easily be considered magical.
The Major League's only twenty-game winner was a major concern before Game 1 and when Rockies manager Clint Hurdle was asked in the pre-game about the addition of a designated hitter and how it would affect his game decided to cut to what he thought was more important, "It's all going to depend how Beckett pitches tonight. He's really good." Columnist Mike Bauman described that quote as severely understated and thought the manager might really be wanting to say, "If Beckett pitches the way he pitched the last three games, we have the same chance as a snowball in Hades." The good news for the Rockies, Beckett's 2007 postseason ERA worsened after Game 1. The bad news, it went from 1.17 to 1.20 as he allowed only one earned run, walked one batter, and threw sixty-two of his ninety-three pitches for strikes. Spread thirteen runs across his seven solid innings and Game 1 was a walk in the park for the Red Sox.
Curt Schilling said Game 2 was, "The Pap-Okajima Show tonight. That (it) was just phenomenal to watch. Okajima was perfect, absolutely perfect - every single pitch." The veteran hurler wasn't perfect himself, allowing one earned run in the first inning, but was every bit the tough-as-nails October pitcher we've become accustomed to and after 5 1/3, he handed it over to his bullpen who held the 2-1 lead and sent the Series off to the thin air of Denver, Colorado.
Three years to the date the Red Sox clinched their last World Championship, they took a commanding 3-0 lead against the Rockies - this time in Coors Field. During Game 3 the story played out a bit differently: pounce early, hold on and ride out the Rockies first solid comeback attempt, then put it away late. Matt Holliday was a key part of that solid comeback hitting the Rockies first ever World Series home run in the seventh inning with two men on base and putting his club within a run, but the Sox bullpen held the lead and an inning later the Red Sox tacked on three more to secure the game and begin thinking about a sweep.
Twenty-two teams have taken a 3-0 lead during Fall Classics and each of them has gone on to win the World Championship. 2007 would not be different as the Red Sox, who have made the postseason four of the past five years, swept the Rox and won their seventh World Championship. The made-for-television pitching duel of two comeback kids; cancer survivor Jon Lester & blood-cots in the lungs Aaron Cook, provided an unexpected surprise as each hurler made it into the sixth and kept the game within reach. Brad Hawpe gave his Rox hope, and fans in Coors Field something to cheer about, when he blasted a Delcarmen pitch in the seventh inning over the left field wall and put his team within striking distance. Garret Atkins joined the Rox home run Series hitting trio in the eighth, but the bats came alive too late as the Sox matched their Game 4 long ball duo with Mike Lowell & Bobby Keilty.