Picked him off.
After a Game 1 blowout, the Colorado Rockies came back with their A game in the second contest. It was like a scene from “The Natural” with 41-year-old Curt Schilling, the 2004 Series hero, opposing the young and energetic Rockies (with a 23-year-old fireballer, Ubaldo Jimenez, blowing past the veteran Red Sox lineup.)
But Schilling made it into the sixth, followed by Hideki Okajima into the eighth; Schilling was gritty, Okajima was brilliant. When righthanded-hitting Matt Holliday, a candidate for NL MVP, came to bat, Jonathan Papelbon was summoned from the bullpen. Holliday drove an 0-2 pitch right past Papelbon, causing a collective New England gasp.
Next batter: Todd Helton, a perennial .300 hitter, lefthanded. Dangerous. And then something remarkable happened – Matt Holliday, a decent base stealer, got a little too far off first base . . . and Papelbon, who had never picked off a player in the majors, threw over to first. Inning over.
After that, the Rockies’ momentum that had won them 21 of 22 coming into the series was all gone. Papelbon retired Helton, Atkins and Hawpe in the ninth – two by strikeouts – putting the Red Sox up 2-0.
The club goes to Colorado today, with games 3, 4 and 5 (”if necessary”) on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But the Rockies really wanted to get one of the first two; there was no chance in Game 1, and they fell short in Game 2.
Now let’s see what happens a mile up.