BOSTON - When the Colorado Rockies got clobbered in the World Series opener, they comforted themselves with the knowledge that, no matter how badly they had been pummeled, it still only counted as one loss.
The pickle the Rockies find themselves in now is that close defeats also result in a mark on the debit side of the ledger.
So after being edged by the Boston Red Sox, 2-1, last night at Fenway Park, they quickly find themselves on the ropes, down two games to none in the best-of-seven series.
They will have to try to turn the tide, and quickly, when play resumes with Game 3 tomorrow night at Coors Field in Denver.
"We'll see how it plays out for us," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. "I anticipate us playing better baseball when we get home. Game 3 is what it's all about for us right now."
Fifty teams have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the World Series and 39 of those have gone on to win the world championship.
"We've done a lot of things this year that people haven't expected," Hurdle said. "We've been down to one strike or go home. All we have to do is win four of the next five. So it depends on how you look at it."
Said Red Sox manager Terry Francona: "What we've said all along is that the game ahead of us is the most important one on our radar, and that will never change no matter what the situation is."
Curt Schilling further cemented his reputation as a big-game pitcher by picking up the win. He now has an 11-2 career record with a 2.33 earned run average in postseason play. Mike Lowell's two-out double in the bottom of the fifth against Ubaldo Jimenez drove in David Ortiz with the eventual game-winning run.
The Red Sox had only six hits, but also drew seven walks. Both their runs were scored by batters who had reached via a base on balls.
Hideki Okajima came out of the bullpen to retire seven straight Rockies batters and Jonathan Papelbon got the final four outs to nail down the win.
"That was the game right there," Schilling said.
If the biggest question coming into the series was how the Rockies would react to their long layoff, the wonder last night was whether they would be able to bounce back from the 13-1 pounding they absorbed in Game 1.
"It's not hard to forget," veteran first baseman Todd Helton insisted before the game. "Once we stepped off the field [Wednesday night] and got to the locker room, that game was over. [Former manager] Buddy Bell told me, 'I never want to hear you say you're embarrassed on a baseball field again.'
"I thought about that. We're playing in the World Series. We're not going to hang our heads no matter what happens, and we're never going to be embarrassed. Do we want to give a better showing for the people that are watching us for the first time? Of course. We want to play like we're capable of playing.
"We've used the word 'resilient' a lot this year. We have a very short memory and that's definitely a positive trait with his team."
That's not to say the Rockies didn't try to change their luck. Throughout their 21-of-22 streak, they wore their black, sleeveless tops whenever possible, even at home. After being hammered in the opener, they decided to switch up and broke out their traditional road grays.
Grit and superstition, however, don't matter that much without strong starting pitching. And both teams got effective, if abbreviated, outings from their starters.
Schilling, as has been well-advertised by now, isn't the dominant force that he used to be. His fastball doesn't have nearly the hop and now settles comfortably in the 85 mph range. He relies on guile and location.
"But his will to win gives you confidence in him," Francona said. "It's a good feeling when he pitches, even though he might not be quite the same pitcher as he used to be."
Even though the Rockies got their leadoff hitter on base in four of the first five innings, they were able to turn those opportunities into just one run.
"We had some pitches to hit, but we didn't square them up," Hurdle said. "Schilling is a competitor."
The run came in the first after Willy Taveras managed to get himself on base when a pitch that would have caught the inside corner of the plate nicked his hand instead. With one out, Matt Holliday hit a sharp grounder down the third-base line. Lowell dived and knocked the ball down, but it trickled off his glove and rolled away.
Taveras, running with the pitch, made it to third. Lowell retrieved the ball and made a hurried, off-line throw that allowed Holliday to move up to second. Helton grounded out to first as Taveras scored.
Schilling didn't give up a run after that. And it was a good thing for the Red Sox because Jimenez came out dealing for the Rockies.
Jimenez retired the first five batters he faced, nailed J.D. Drew on the ankle, then retired three more.
After once through the order, though, the Red Sox seemed to adjust their approach. They started being more patient, making Jimenez throw more pitches.
That allowed them to scratch out a run in the fourth and another in the fifth and, on this night, that was enough.
Schilling, meanwhile, left with runners on first and second and one out in the top of the sixth. The sellout crowd of 36,730 gave the potential free agent a standing ovation. Fully aware that, depending on how long the series lasts, it could be his final appearance in a Red Sox uniform, he waved his cap repeatedly.
The way this series has gone, it might not last much longer. *