Rockies notebook

Pair manages to have reunion

The Rockies may be relatively new to the league, but their fans are starting a tradition.
By Jim McCabe
Globe Staff / October 26, 2007

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When they met behind the batting cage Wednesday night, hours before Game 1 of the World Series, Clint Hurdle had a warm embrace for Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan.

He also had something to say.

"I said to him, 'You've got the whole team listening to you now. How did that happen?' " said the Rockies manager with a wide smile.

Magadan understood the joke, for it had been a running commentary between the two friends for years. They played together with the Mets, then crossed paths when they got into coaching - Hurdle as hitting coach for the Rockies, Magadan in a similar post with the Padres.

"One of the things we used to share as hitting coaches, we would kid each other," said Hurdle. "Whoever was hot at the time, we would say, 'So-and-so is listening to you now, huh?' "

Thus did Hurdle, in assessing Boston's rally from a 3-1 deficit against Cleveland in the American League Championship Series, give credit to an offense that outscored the Tribe, 30-5, and collected 37 hits.

The quiet Magadan, in his first year with Boston, would never take credit for a lineup that features talents such as Manny Ramírez, David Ortiz, and Mike Lowell, but Hurdle extends nothing but respect to his friend.

"I enjoy his company," said Hurdle.

It isn't the only connection Hurdle has with the Boston coaching staff. In fact, Hurdle goes back many years with manager Terry Francona and bench coach Brad Mills. "Francona and I met in winter ball [in Venezuela]," said Hurdle. "It's amazing how you meet guys in this game."

But they never became fast friends; instead, the connection was always Mills, who was close to both World Series managers.

"Brad was a coach in our organization for a long period of time," said Hurdle. "Brad Mills has really given me more information on Terry Francona than I could have gotten anywhere else. I have a lot of respect for Terry and the experience I've had with him, but probably more so in the glowing terms in which Brad has spoken of him as a leader, as a manager, as a friend, as a teammate."

Restoring order

While he produced a roller-coaster ride of pitches - some high, some low, some over the batter's head, others behind the batter's head - rookie righthander Ubaldo Jimenez kept the Red Sox off balance and did what Hurdle wanted. He kept the Rockies in last night's Game 2, although he was tagged with the loss in the 2-1 contest. Colorado pitchers needed until the eighth inning in Game 1 to get the Red Sox in order, but Jimenez turned the trick in the first inning, and he set down the first five batters. Still, it couldn't have been a huge surprise how things unfolded, because Jimenez had walked 28 in 42 innings since Sept. 1, and again it hindered him. He didn't walk any of the first nine batters he faced; he then walked five of the next 12 - and two of them (Lowell, Ortiz) scored . . . One night after the Red Sox scored 11 of their 13 runs with two out, they faced a different challenge in Jimenez. Opponents had been 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the postseason vs. Jimenez, and 0 for 7 with two out. So what happened? After the first two batters went out in the fifth, Jimenez walked Ortiz, then got touched for a single by Ramírez and a double Lowell to put Boston in front, 2-1 . . . Like his counterpart for Boston, Curt Schilling, Jimenez wears No. 38 . . . Only two Rockies had faced Schilling more than 10 times - and both had fared well. Todd Helton was 18 for 54 (.333) with five home runs, and Yorvit Torrealba 6 for 12 (.500). But combined, they went 0 for 3 with a walk and a sacrifice against Schilling last night . . . The only other Rockie to hit a home run off Schilling is right fielder Brad Hawpe . . . Hawpe was up with two out and two on and his team down, 2-1, in the sixth, but the odds weren't in his favor. Having hit .214 during the regular season against lefthanders, he struck out against Hideki Okajima . . . The Rockies had the leadoff hitter on in four of the first five innings against Schilling, but only pushed him home in the first.

Uncomfortable experience

Apprehension had been voiced about taking players out of their comfort zones, but the Rockies, like most playoff teams, find it unavoidable in these short series. They also discovered Wednesday night that it didn't work with Franklin Morales, their 21-year-old lefthander. Normally a starter, Morales was shipped to the bullpen for the World Series and he was the first one to get the call when another lefthander, Jeff Francis, struggled from the start. It was the first time Morales had come on in relief in his major league career and just the seventh time in 107 professional appearances. It was not a memorable one, because the southpaw faced nine batters and seven of them scored as the Red Sox built their lead to 13-1. "With Franklin, with two out and one man on, what was it? Six straight guys got on base," said Hurdle. "We've got some things we can work on." During the regular season, Morales played for three teams in the Rockies organization, with all 28 appearances as a starter. Eight of those were at the major league level, Morales going 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA for the National League champs . . . It was just the third time in World Series history that a relief pitcher coughed up at least seven runs. Most recently, it happened in 2001 when the Yankees' Jay Witasick gave up nine in 1 1/3 innings against Arizona. The other time? Give yourself a star if you recall Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants, who yielded eight in Game 6 in 1911 against Philadelphia.

Lefties all right

Francis had plenty of problems, and it didn't help that he failed miserably against the three Boston lefthanders in the Game 1 lineup: Ortiz, J.D. Drew, and Jacoby Ellsbury. During the regular season, lefties had hit only .242 against Francis, but the Sox trio combined for a 3-for-8 performance. Francis had yielded just one hit against nine lefthanded batters in the postseason before Wednesday . . . Hawpe's four-strikeout game Wednesday wasn't his first of the year. He also fanned four times at Florida Aug. 1

Jim McCabe can be reached at

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