DENVER — The last time the Boston Red Sox came to Coors Field, they wore goggles to keep the champagne out of their eyes while the Colorado Rockies retreated to their clubhouse to cry.
For two hours, the Red Sox celebrated their sweep of the 2007 World Series, dancing all over the infield under the cool Colorado skies after the clock struck midnight on the Rockies’ magical run known as “Rocktober.”
“No, those aren’t good memories, but I mean, they are still fond memories of being in the World Series,” Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs said.
The teams meet up in Denver again this week for a three-game interleague series featuring a matchup between Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez and Red Sox righty John Lackey on Wednesday night.
The last time the Red Sox came to Coors Field, Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia was stopped by a security guard who didn’t believe he was a player.
Surely he’ll be recognized now that he owns an MVP and a World Series ring?
“Probably no,” Pedroia cracked. “I didn’t get any better looking.”
Still, he’s looking forward to the series that starts Tuesday night.
“It’s a great place to play, and they have a great team,” Pedroia said. “We have a chance to face a guy that’s been unhittable.”
That would be Jimenez, who tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history in April and has had no-hit stuff at least a half-dozen other times.
Jimenez (13-1) is off to the best start by a pitcher since Roger Clemens went 14-0 in 1986. He’ll start Wednesday night against Lackey (8-3).
The Red Sox have been baseball’s hottest team for more than a month and represent the biggest test yet for Jimenez, whose only loss came on May 9 at Los Angeles when he allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings of a 2-0 defeat.
“I’m looking forward to this week,” Jimenez said. “They have a good team again.”
This is the most-anticipated series at Denver’s downtown ballpark since the New York Yankees came to Coors Field in 2007 and were outscored 13-5 in the Rockies’ three-game sweep that prompted their fans to wave brooms as the dejected Bombers swirled into their clubhouse, eager to get out of town as fast as they could.
“When we had the buzz with the Yankees in ‘07, the Rockies were just starting to get on the map and people didn’t know how good we were, so when we went out and swept them people were shocked and surprised,” Spilborghs said.
“I don’t think anyone would be shocked or surprised if we did something similar just because people know that we’ve made it to playoffs two of the last three years, we’ve gone to the World Series. We’re not a flash in the pan. We’re actually a very good team.”
Thanks mostly to Jimenez, who anchors a terrific Colorado pitching staff that has kept the Rockies afloat in the competitive NL West despite a horrid lineup that’s missing stars Troy Tulowitzki (wrist) and Carlos Gonzalez (knee) and features a $16 million singles hitter in Todd Helton now that he’s lost his power.
Helton has just two homers and 12 RBIs so far.
Jon Lester (8-2) starts for Boston in the series opener against Jhoulys Chacin (3-6) in his first trip back to the ballpark where he won the Game 4 clincher in 2007.
The Rockies still feel they didn’t give Boston their best shot that year.
They won their first NL pennant on the strength of an incredible 21-1 run that included sweeps of Philadelphia and Arizona in the playoffs. But all that magic and momentum was lost when they had to wait around for a week while the Red Sox took care of the Cleveland Indians.
“No team in baseball has eight days off before it plays its next game,” Jimenez said. “That’s what happened. We came out flat.”
And got swept.
“It was a quick World Series,” said Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, who was their ace back then. “All we had done to get there to that point and whatever momentum we had was lost. They handled us pretty quickly. They were the better team.”