How the Rockies can come back
Locating bats, using mountain air are keys to Game 3
Posted: Saturday October 27, 2007 11:11AM; Updated: Saturday October 27, 2007 11:11AM
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DENVER -- Yes indeed, the Rockies have quite a mountain to climb.
Down two-zip to a more-experienced, better-stocked team with many more proven October performers, the first thing baseball's most outwardly religious team should do is obvious: pray.
But if that doesn't work, here are a few more things they can think about, hope for or try to do better:
1. The Rockies' chances aren't the only thing that's thin here; so is the air. Coors Field is a place the Rockies have thrived for years, even back when they had plain crummy teams. Visiting players can have trouble breathing (a real impediment to good play), and pitchers just don't know what to make of this place. And it's not like Boston's Game 3 starter Daisuke Matsuzaka hasn't had enough to overcome already. "The ball just doesn't do what it does at sea level,'' Rockies pitcher Matt Herges said. "Everyone has a home-field advantage. But the fact is, at Coors Field it's a different game.''
2. Nobody's better at forgetting their last tough loss than the Rockies. Although that may be true mainly because before Game 1, their last loss came three weeks earlier. Colorado's challenge will be that much harder now, with two big losses to forget. But they are obviously a very resilient team, having returned from a near-death situation in the regular season, when they came from far back in the wild-card race and then again in the playoff game against San Diego against Hall-of-Famer-to-be Trevor Hoffman. "We've definitely got our work cut out for us,'' Todd Helton said. "It's going to be tough. But we've had our backs to the wall the last two weeks of the season. We know what it's like to be in a tough spot. We have to go out and do it. Talking about it ain't gonna' help.''
3. Game 3 starter Josh Fogg is going to have to keep doing it with smoke and mirrors. Fogg doesn't look like he has much out there, yet he's been blowing through the playoffs, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA. Of course, a lineup with TV man Eric Byrnes batting third and Tony Clark batting fourth is vastly different than one with David Ortiz third and Manny Ramirez fourth. Together, Ortiz and Ramirez have reached based 60 of 108 times in the postseason. But that's OK, Fogg has showed he can weather (sorry, couldn't resist) tough situations.
4. After showing some limp lumber the first two games, the Rockies need to demonstrate they can still be the Blake Street Bombers when necessary. Through two games, all but three players who have batted for the Rockies are hitting either .000 or .125, the exceptions being Matt Holliday (.500), Troy Tulowitzki (.400) and Helton (.286). "It has to change for us,'' said Garrett Atkins, one of the .125 hitters. "We have to hit better.'' The Rockies have a good excuse in Game 1 as Josh Beckett was pretty close to unhittable, but Curt Schilling beat them in Game 2 with location and guile. Hideki Okajima's no-look style is going to be tough if you don't see him very much. But what about Eric Gagne, who's been so bad in Boston he's reserved for blowouts? Colorado should realize: It's not them, it's us.