Red Sox unwind beforetaking on red-hot Rockies

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

World Series will open Wednesday in Boston.

BOSTON -- Fenway Park was quiet, the Red Sox clubhouse was dry and Jonathan Papelbon was done with his Irish step dance.

The jubilation of Boston's pennant-clinching comeback was over. There was still one more opponent to face, one that fashioned an incredible streak to reach the World Series for the first time.

Monday's stillness was the calm before the swarm. The Colorado Rockies are coming to town, taking a 21-1 surge into Game 1 on Wednesday night.

They certainly should be fresh -- perhaps too fresh.

After sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks to win their first NL pennant, the Rockies will play their first game in nine days. The Red Sox spent most of the time on the field, rallying from a 3-1 AL championship series deficit and outscoring the Cleveland Indians 30-5 in the last three games.

"We've played a lot of intense games, but we'd rather go in seeing live pitches in a couple of days than nine days off," said Dustin Pedroia, who drove in five runs in Sunday night's 11-2 clincher.

"They'll be ready. They've waited their whole lives to be in this situation, so I don't think nine days of rest is going to affect their play at all," he said.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said it was worth the eight-day layoff just to see the city galvanized by the Rockies' first World Series appearance.

"I've enjoyed watching the city embrace it," Hurdle said. "I've been able to go to some places where we're able to be in the background and just watch the buzz from other people. We've gone to places where we've been overly embraced, too.

"All the stories about the down time were appropriate. What will it do to the Rockies? I understand that. But to watch the city -- not to have us run right into the World Series -- has been really cool."

The weather in Boston for the first two games is supposed to be mild, with mostly clear skies and temperatures in the 50s.

There's no snow in the forecast for the weekend games in Denver. Meteorologist Robert Glancy of the National Weather Service said Monday that Games 3 and 4 should be played in around 45-degree weather.

"We won't have to mess with rain or snow," Glancy said. "We're between storms. It won't be bitterly cold. But stay tuned. Forecasts do change."

ALCS MVP Josh Beckett will pitch the opener against Jeff Francis, who is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his first postseason. Beckett is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in this year's playoffs and was the World Series MVP in 2003.

If Beckett is just as sharp Wednesday, Papelbon -- a much better closer than dancer -- could finish up.

Papelbon put the wackiest touches on Boston's celebration when it clinched the AL East. Standing near the mound in a shirt and shorts, he performed a wild dance while spraying champagne in all directions.

His repeat performance Sunday was more subdued.

"Papelbon put some clothes on this time," J.D. Drew said.

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