Level of excitement is high
Playing in Rockies jogs some memories
The last time the Red Sox were in Denver, they returned home smelling of champagne. That was in 2007 after a four-game sweep of the Rockies in the World Series.
They return tonight to start a three-game interleague series. Jon Lester, who won the clinching fourth game of the Series at Coors Field, will be on the mound for the Red Sox against Jhoulys Chacin.
Lester pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rockies on that October night before four relievers helped secure a 4-3 victory and the franchise’s second world title in four years.
“There’s some good memories there,’’ second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a place where we don’t usually play and they’re a good team. It’ll be fun.’’
The Red Sox have won a season-best six straight and are 39-19 since April 20, the best record in baseball. They’ll face the best pitcher in the game, righthander Ubaldo Jimenez, tomorrow night. He is 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA.
Jimenez started Game 2 of the 2007 Series at Fenway Park, giving up two runs on three hits over 4 2/3 innings in a game the Sox won, 2-1.
“I’m looking forward to this week,’’ Jimenez told reporters in Denver. “They have a good team again.’’
The Rockies are 36-33, very much in the race in the National League West at four games back.
“I’d like to do a little better this time,’’ said McDonald, who is hitting .270 for the Red Sox and has driven in 17 runs. “I probably couldn’t do much worse.’’
McDonald was a two-sport star at Cherry Creek High, earning All-America status in baseball and leading the football team to three state championships. He turned down a football scholarship to Texas to sign with the Orioles after being taken in the first round of the draft.
“It’ll be fun to go back there with a team like the Red Sox,’’ said McDonald, who expects to have a lot of family and friends in the crowd. “I noticed early on we had these games on the schedule.’’
Beltre is a career .395 hitter there over 55 games with 14 doubles, 4 triples, 15 home runs, and 60 RBIs. He has a .437 on-base percentage at Coors and an outrageous .702 slugging percentage.
“I love it there,’’ Beltre said. “I always have.’’
Storing the baseballs in a humidor supposedly has helped negate the effects of the high altitude in Colorado. But Beltre was 5 for 13 with three doubles at Coors last season while a member of the Mariners.
“That’s just a good place to hit,’’ he said.
Now comes 23-year-old righthander Jay Broughton, who was signed by the Sox last week. Broughton was 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA and K’d 23 over 24 2/3 innings.
Calgary manager Morgan Burkhart, the former independent league slugger who played for the Red Sox from 2000-01, endorsed Broughton. Allard Baird, one of general manager Theo Epstein’s assistants, signed Burkhart for the Royals in 2002. That connection led to Broughton.