BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

Has Beckett met his match?


The Jeff Francis-Josh Beckett pitching matchup doesn't necessarily favor whom you would expect. Yes, Beckett has been unhittable this postseason, and yes, he's a 20-game winner, but facing the Rockies might be a case of Superman meeting his kryptonite.

"BASEBALL TONIGHT"
ESPN, 1 a.m. ET
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips, Dusty Baker, Peter Gammons

The Colorado hitters teed off on Beckett earlier this season and have done so historically despite his 4-1 mark against the franchise. Jeff Francis emerged unscathed from his only previous meeting with the Red Sox and has fared quite well of late. Yes, he's the only Rockies pitcher to lose a game in the last month, but Francis had no issues outpitching Brandon Webb in the NLCS. So a matchup with Beckett probably won't intimidate him either.

And there's a different kind of curse that might come into play with this World Series, as "The Curse of the Bambino" has been replaced by "The Curse of the Best Record." The team with the best record in baseball has only won one World Series since 1990 (the 1998 Yankees are the lone team). The Red Sox, who shared the best mark with the Indians, at 96-66, played a part in extending the current streak, beating the best-in-baseball Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

WORLD SERIES GAME 1 PITCHING PREVIEW
LHP Jeff Francis, Rockies
• Pitched five shutout innings vs. Red Sox earlier this season; was 3-0 vs Red Sox/Yankees/Blue Jays in 2007
• Only Rockies pitcher to lose a game since Sept. 16
• Key matchup: J.D. Drew (3-for-10)
RHP Josh Beckett, Red Sox
• 4-1, 3.89 career ERA vs. Rockies, but current Colorado position players are 34-for-93 (.366 BA) against him
• 3-0, 1.17 ERA in 2007 postseason (1.78 postseason ERA ranks fourth all-time, minimum eight starts)
• Key matchups: Garrett Atkins (6-for-10, 1 HR), Todd Helton (4-for-12, 1 HR, 4 BB), Matt Holliday (6-for-14, 1 HR):
BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL SINCE 1999
YEAR TEAM RECORD OUTCOME
2007 CLE/BOS 96-66 CLE: Lost ALCS, BOS: ?
2006 NYM/NYY 97-65 NYM: Lost NLCS, NYY lost ALDS
2005 Cardinals 100-62 Lost NLCS
2004 Cardinals 105-57 Lost WS
2003 ATL/NYY 101-61 ATL: Lost NLDS, NYY lost WS
2002 Yankees 103-58 Lost ALDS
2001 Mariners 116-46 Lost ALCS
2000 Giants 97-65 Lost NLDS
1999 Braves 103-59 Lost WS
NEWS AND NOTES
Wakefield's out
Tim Wakefield was left off the Red Sox's World Series roster because of a shoulder injury while Jon Lester, who threw a simulated game Tuesday, will likely join the rotation and start Game 4 against the Rockies. Right-hander Kyle Snyder was added to the roster.

Cook's in
Aaron Cook will be set to start for the Rockies in Game 4. He's been sidelined since Aug. 10 with a strained side muscle and finished the season at 8-7 with a 4.12 ERA. Franklin Morales will move to the bullpen and Taylor Buchholz was left off the roster.

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE
John Kruk and Steve Phillips give their World Series predictions, and both see the Red Sox having the clear advantage over the Rockies.
THIS DATE IN POSTSEASON HISTORY:
OCT. 24
1996: Yankees survive thrilling finish
In one of the best pitchers duels in World Series history, Andy Pettitte and the Yankees beat John Smoltz and the Braves, 1-0 in Game 5 of the World Series in Atlanta. The Braves put the tying run on third base with one out, but fail to score. Paul O'Neill makes a fine running catch of Luis Polonia's fly ball to end the game, putting the Yankees ahead in the series, 3-2, and putting them in position to win at home in Game 6.

TEAM TAKES WORLD SERIES LEAD
WITH 1-0 ROAD WIN, LAST 50 YEARS
1996 Yankees Game 5 at Braves Led WS, 3-2
1986 Red Sox Game 1 at Mets Led WS, 1-0
1962 Yankees Game 7 at Giants Won WS, 4-3
1992: Oh, Canada
Dave Winfield drives in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and Mike Timlin throws out Otis Nixon attempting to bunt for a hit as the final out as the Blue Jays clinch their first World Series by beating the Braves in Game 6. The Blue Jays become the first team from Canada to win the World Series. They would prevail in dramatic fashion the following season, on Joe Carter's home run against Mitch Williams.
1985: Another Jackson is Mr. October
Behind a strong effort from left-handed starting pitcher Danny Jackson, the Royals beat the Cardinals 6-1, cutting the Cardinals lead in the World Series to 3-2. Twice in that postseason, with the Royals behind three games to one, Jackson won Game 5 to keep the series alive. The Royals would win the next two games to win the World Series. Jackson finished the postseason 2-1, but with a 1.04 ERA.

QUOTABLE
"This stinks for me. I want to be out there competing. This is the ultimate stage."

-- Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, who was removed from the World Series roster due to a shoulder injury


 

Search Arrow