Correction to This Article
The article incorrectly said the Detroit Tigers were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series. The Cardinals won in five games, not four.

It's a Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Matchup

Red Sox Are Favored, But the Rockies Enter On a Historic High

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2007; Page E01

BOSTON, Oct. 23 -- Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, loss. Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win.

Go back, read it again -- out loud this time, and s-l-o-w-l-y -- and perhaps you can begin to appreciate the magnitude of what the Colorado Rockies accomplished during the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of this month.

The Rockies, champions of the National League, enter the 103rd World Series against the American League-champion Boston Red Sox, beginning Wednesday night at Fenway Park, as the hottest team in postseason history, having won 21 of their previous 22 games, including all seven in the playoffs. Of the 14 regular season wins that made up that historic run, had even one of them turned into a loss, the Rockies would not have made the playoffs.

But what sort of run would the Rockies have needed to make in order to convince people -- such as those who set the betting lines in Las Vegas, where the Rockies opened as 2-to-1 underdogs -- that they have a chance against the mighty Red Sox in the World Series? Thirty of 31? Forty-nine of 50? One hundred sixty-one of 162?

"How are we the favorites," asked Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, making a good point while not quite nailing the math, "when . . . we're playing a team that's won twenty-something freaking games in a row?"

One reason, as Papelbon surely knows, is that while the Red Sox were pulverizing the Cleveland Indians in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the AL Championship Series by an aggregate score of 30-5 -- perhaps the Red Sox' most inspired 27 innings all season -- the Rockies, who completed a four-game sweep of the NLCS over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Oct. 15, were trying to remain sharp by playing simulated games (while dodging snowflakes) and killing time by going on group duck-hunting trips during eight full days between actual games.

"For some of us [veterans], it's a good thing," Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said. "I think we need to do this every year -- you know, take a little break, go to the lake."

"We will not apologize," Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle said, "for winning quickly."

So, which is the hot team, and which is the cold one?

No team in history has entered the World Series with a longer layoff than the Rockies -- although a year ago, the Detroit Tigers had six days off following a sweep of Oakland in the ALCS. And, well, things didn't turn out so well for them. The Tigers, particularly their pitchers, looked sloppy in getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, who, unlike the Tigers, had to grind through seven games in beating the New York Mets in the NLCS.

"I did watch it," Helton said, when asked if he recalled last year's World Series. "The Tigers didn't play very good. [But] we're not the Tigers. . . . Look, we've done all we could do [to stay sharp] without going to the Dominican Summer League. You've just got to throw it out there, and hopefully we'll play like we've been playing."

Helton had played nine full seasons in the majors without getting so much as a sniff of the postseason, so when the Rockies, after their mini-vacation, flew east to Boston on Monday, Helton told his teammates: "Boys, do y'all know where we're going? We're going to the World Series."

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