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Red Sox already tested by Rockies

Red Sox already tested by Rockies

BOSTON -- The Red Sox barely had time to celebrate their American League Championship Series victory Sunday night before the question started to turn toward the National League champion Colorado Rockies. The Red Sox couldn't answer much about them until they get a chance to go over scouting reports on Monday and Tuesday.

"Obviously, they have a great team," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "They've won, I don't even know how many in a row. They've been playing great baseball for a long time."

Said Doug Mirabelli: "What'd they win, 21 of 22? Those guys have come together a lot like this team has."

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After this past summer, though, they're already familiar, even if it was a series they'd rather forget.

Before the Rockies crashed baseball's postseason party with 21 wins in 22 tries, they came to Fenway Park in June for Interleague Play and took two out of three from what was at that point a Boston team with far and away baseball's best record. The only team that had beaten them in a home series up until that point was the Yankees.

It wasn't just that the Rockies beat them, but how they did it. The combination of Aaron Cook, Josh Fogg, Jeff Francis and a cast of many relievers held Boston's mighty offense to five runs in three games. The only Red Sox victory in the set came in a 2-1 decision that featured eight innings of one-run ball from knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

They had their opportunities for more. As a team, the Red Sox left 28 men on base in the series, thanks in no small part to a 3-for-27 performance with runners in scoring position.

The dangerous duo of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz went a combined 7-for-19 in the series, but just one of those hits went for extra bases -- an Ortiz double in the opener. But then, the entire Red Sox lineup had just five extra-base hits for the series.

"You always get tested," manager Terry Francona said after the Rockies took the rubber game. "With 162 games, you're going to be tested."

Little could anyone have known that the rubber match would be a World Series opening preview. While Josh Beckett took a perfect 9-0 record into his start, Francis was quietly putting together one quality start after another with just a .500 record to show for it.

He didn't get the quality start that June 14 evening, but only because the patient Red Sox hitters forced him to use 103 pitches over five innings. The innings were scoreless because Francis stranded nine Red Sox runners on base, including the bases loaded with one out in the second.

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For the game, the Red Sox went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

From that start on, Francis had the support to go 12-4 the rest of the way, giving him 17 wins on the year. His support that night came largely from a Garrett Atkins grand slam and a Matt Holliday solo homer.

Beckett's five innings of work marked his second-shortest outing of the season. Asked about the end of his unbeaten streak that night, Beckett said, "It was a fun run."

Still, his season didn't exactly take a downturn after that. Now he'll get his rematch against a Rockies team that's no longer a secret.

When the Rockies left town at series' end, the big threat in Beantown seemingly was the Yankees, whose deficit in the AL East fell to 7 1/2 games. Clearly, that's no longer the worry. The opponent from that game is.

"Obviously, we saw them here for three games, but their lineup looks tough," Mirabelli continued. "It looks like they have an American League lineup on a National League team.

"They've been playing really well. Obviously, that's an understatement."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["world_series" ] }
{"content":["world_series" ] }