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Posted: Monday October 29, 2007 3:30AM; Updated: Monday October 29, 2007 11:12AM
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World Series Report Card
Game 4: Red Sox 4, Rockies 3
This time, best team won World Series
Kevin Youkilis
Getty Images
DENVER -- The best team in baseball doesn't always win the World Series. It's a fact. You've heard the "postseason is a crapshoot" arguments. The "anything can happen in a short series" spiel. It's all true.

This much, though, is also true, at least this year after the Red Sox handed the overmatched and underwhelming Rockies a World Series spike-cleaning that they won't soon forget.

The best team in baseball won this World Series. And it wasn't even close.

"I really think we're in a little bit of a daze," said Tom Werner, the beer-soaked and champagne-heavy chairman of the Sox, after Boston's favorite sons finished up a sweep of Colorado here at Coors Field. "I think John [Henry, the team's principal owner] and I are a little stunned right now. This is unreal."

Werner, Henry and the rest of the people around the Sox were in the unfamiliar position Sunday night of comparing their two recent World Series; the wipeout of the Cardinals in 2004, and the just-completed sweep of the Rockies. Back in 2004, one World Series would have been unthinkable to the long-suffering generations of Red Sox fans. And now, they have two to deal with, in the time it takes a single teenager to make it through high school.

Like the title in 2004, these Sox had to make a major comeback in the American League Championship Series to get to the World Series. (In '04, it was the historic comeback, from a 3-0 hole, against the Yankees; this year, it was a bounceback, from 3-1, against the Indians.) And like 2004, once the Sox made it to the World Series, there was no stopping them. Even the Rockies finally admitted as much Sunday night.

"We played a great team," said Aaron Cook, the hard-luck Colorado starter who took the loss in Game 4. "They just played excellent, hard baseball the whole series. And we had to run into them after an eight-day layoff."

Ahhh, the layoff. Colorado fans would be fooling themselves if they point to that layoff between the National League Championship Series and the World Series as the reason for this shellacking. The fact is, Colorado pitchers couldn't stop the Red Sox (who hit .333 in the four games). Colorado hitters couldn't put a bat on the Sox pitches (the Rocks hit .218).

The Red Sox played better defensively. They did everything better. Again, even the Rockies know it.

"I hate to use excuses. They played better than us. I thought we belonged here all along," said young Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. "But, like I said, they played better than us."

Sunday, in the relative quiet of a Boston clubhouse after the game, young pitcher Jon Lester stood facing reporters, a beer can shoved down his back by a teammate and the World Series trophy in his hands. He echoed the feeling of Red Sox players, owners and fans everywhere.

"I got beer dripping down my butt and I got this thing in front of me," he said, lifting the trophy. "This is great."

Not unlike these Sox.

Here are the Game 4 grades:
 
Game Grades
RockiesRed Sox

F

Yorvit Torrealba - C
0-for-4
A hero for a game in the NL Championship Series, Torrealba finished off an awful World Series with an uninspired effort. His biggest sin was a rollout to short with men on that ended the second.

A

Jason Varitek - C
2-for-4, RBI
His single through the right side of the infield in the fifth inning scored Mike Lowell -- thanks to a wonderful slide by Lowell -- and gave 'Tek five RBIs in the four Series games. And another ring.

B

Todd Helton - 1B
2-for-4, run, 2B
Helton had a rough time in his first postseason, but he finished well in the Series. A hard double in the first and a ground single in the eighth gave him a .333 mark against the Rocks. He hit .220 overall.

A+

David Ortiz - 1B
1-for-3, RBI, BB
Big Papi singled through a drawn-in infield in the first inning to drive in a run, finishing a superb offseason with a .370 mark and 10 RBIs in 14 games. He made a beauty of a dig at first base, too.

C

Kaz Matsui - 2B
1-for-4, 2B, K
The Rocks' leadoff hitter got on only once in the deciding game -- that thanks to a misplay in left. Leadoff was often a sore spot for the Rocks in this Series, but Matsui had a good postseason overall.

C

Dustin Pedroia - 2B
0-for-4
His seven-game postseason hitting streak came to an end, but .283 for a rookie? With some key hits along the way. Pedroia will take it. The Red Sox will definitely take it.

C

Garrett Atkins - 3B
1-for-3, run, two RBI, BB, HR
His huge homer in the eighth off Hideki Okajima brought the Rocks to within a run, but they could have been closer if he'd have moved a runner over in the second or hit better than .154 this Series.

A

Mike Lowell - 3B
2-for-4, two runs, RBI, 2B, HR
The Series MVP deserved the hardware on the basis of Game 4 alone. A great slide earned an RBI for Varitek, the homer off Cook. And, to top it all off, he hit .400 for the Series and .353 in the playoffs.

D

Troy Tulowitzki - SS
0-for-4, three Ks
The rookie shortstop had a terrible postseason. He hit .231 in the Series, and that was an improvement. In 11 postseason games, the rocket-armed shortstop hit just .195.

B

Julio Lugo - SS
1-for-3
He had a nice, slow-motion grab of a Garrett Atkins' liner in the fourth inning, and Lugo -- surprised? -- actually hit well in the Series, finishing at .385. He hit .271 in the postseason.

D

Matt Holliday - LF
0-for-4, K
One of the better hitters for the Rocks for most of the World Series, Holliday came up empty in Game 4, with especially weak bats his last two times up. He finished at .289 in the postseason.

D

Manny Ramirez - LF
0-for-4, K
Manny failed in the finale, hitting into a double play in the first and misplaying a Matsui liner in the fourth. If we gave out grades for haberdashery, the helmet-challenged Manny would be in trouble.

F

Ryan Spilborghs - CF
0-for-3, BB, K
Without a steady centerfielder to count on, the Rocks called again on Spilborghs, who came up not better than Cory Sullivan or Willy Taveras. This position killed Colorado in this Series.

A

Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
2-for-4, run, 2B, K
The speedy centerfielder slapped a double down the line in the first and beat out a slow roller. His highlight, though, came on a catch at the warning track in the ninth inning off Jamey Carroll's bat.

B

Brad Hawpe - RF
1-for-3, run, RBI, BB, HR
Hawpe had a terrible Series -- .250 with eight strikeouts -- but he redeemed himself in the final, somewhat, with his homer off a 92 mph Manny Delcarmen fastball in the seventh inning.

C

J.D. Drew - RF
0-for-4, K
He failed to move a runner over in the fifth, and looked back striking out on a 77 mph Jeremy Affeldt curveball in the seventh. But .314 in the postseason with 11 RBIs ... pretty good.

B

Aaron Cook - SP
6 innings, six hits, three runs, two Ks
Cook performed remarkably, considering he hadn't pitched in a real big-league game in more than two months. He even had a hit, bunting a ball past the mound in the fifth. On another night, he could have hung around and earned a win. On this one, he just wasn't quite good enough.

A

Jon Lester - SP
5 2/3 innings, three hits, no runs, three BBs, three Ks
The cancer survivor relied on his offspeed stuff early on, but when he drew back, he could bring it, too. He threw a 93 mph fastball past Holliday for a strikeout and, in all, kept the Rockies off balance until finally showing some fatigue by walking Atkins in the sixth. A remarkable start. A great story.

C

Bullpen
The only blemish for the Rockies, again, was the one guy they had counted on down the stretch, Brian Fuentes. He gave up Bobby Kielty's home run on his first pitch, and that ended up being the deciding margin. Manny Corpas pitched well, but the closer couldn't cover for Fuentes this time.

B

Bullpen
Delcarmen gave up Hawpe's home run in the seventh, and Atkins nipped Okajima in the eighth for a two-run job. It wasn't pretty, but the Sox got the lead to closer Jonathan Papelbon, and that was the plan all along. Papelbon was perfect in 1 2/3 innings in Game 4, and didn't let up a run in 10 2/3 this postseason.

B

Bench
Cory Sullivan singled as a pinch-hitter, Jamey Carroll almost took one out ... if the Rockies would have had good at-bats like this from their regulars, they still might be playing. Well, maybe not.

A

Bench
Kielty cranked the eighth-inning leadoff homer off Fuentes that made the score 4-1. That's as good as it gets.

B

Clint Hurdle - Manager
Hurdle let starter Cook hit in the fifth, which was maybe debatable, but the pitcher singled, which made Hurdle look, at least temporarily, smart. Truth is, nothing Hurdle could have done was going to be nearly enough to stop the Sox. They were just too good for mere managing to overcome.

A

Terry Francona - Manager
The Boston skipper was smart enough to get Manny Ramirez out of left field when defense was needed late in the game. It was maybe the smartest move of the Series. Jamey Carroll's drive against the wall in left in the ninth inning would have eaten up Manny. Ellsbury went back and made the grab.
 
Field Notes
Terry Francona
AP
With another World Series win, Terry Francona became the 19th manager to win a pair of 'em ... Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki stood for more than five minutes on the on-deck circle after the game was over, watching Boston's celebration ... a loud contingent of Red Sox fans stayed late into the evening at Coors Field, cheering any player or any Boston official that wandered out onto the playing surface. A favorite chant: "Re-sign Lowell! Re-sign Lowell!" Another one, just as raucous: "Don't sign A-Rod! Don't sign A-Rod!" ... The Sox have not clinched a World Series on their home field since 1918. In 2004, they finished the sweep in St. Louis ... Papelbon stretched his career postseason scoreless string to 14 1/3 innings.
 
Quotable
"They didn't give us anything all series. Obviously, they played really well. We couldn't keep up with them."
-- Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins
 
 

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