Red Sox-Rockies Preview

BY foxsports • September 25, 2013

Todd Helton is simply synonymous with the Colorado Rockies.

It's probably fitting the final home game of his 17-year career will be against the team he faced in his lone World Series appearance.

The superstar's last game at Coors Field will be Wednesday night against a playoff-bound Boston Red Sox team trying to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The 40-year-old Helton holds virtually every offensive record for the Rockies (72-86), who were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.

Helton is 16th all-time in baseball with 591 doubles, ranks in the top 100 in runs and hits and will likely finish in the top 75 in batting average. The Rockies plan to give away Helton bobbleheads to the first 35,000 fans Wednesday.

One notable spectator who says he will attend is another prominent local athlete - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Helton was Manning's backup in college at Tennessee. While it's well known that Helton took Manning under his wing when the latter was a college freshman, it's not as publicized how the slugger arranged for Manning to work out at the Rockies' facility during the NFL lockout.

"To do it for that long, like I said, I think sometimes when you just write, '17-year career,' it doesn't do it justice," Manning said. "You ought to put it in bold, caps and write it about 50 times just to realize how much work he put in."

While Colorado is finishing up a third straight losing season, Boston (95-63) is one game ahead of AL West champion Oakland in the race for the baseball's best record. The Red Sox have a magic number of two to gain home-field advantage in a division series.

Boston will use a starter familiar to Helton in Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.02 ERA). Only five batters have faced Peavy more, with Helton hitting .344 in 46 at-bats.

Peavy is familiar with Coors Field from his NL West days with San Diego, going 3-4 with a 4.74 ERA in nine starts.

The veteran right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA in nine outings with Boston, and also faces tough matchups with Troy Tulowitzki (7 for 20) and Michael Cuddyer (4 for 11).

The Red Sox anticipate Wednesday could mark the return of Jacoby Ellsbury, who has missed the last 16 games with a right foot injury. Ellsbury leads the majors with 52 stolen bases.

Colorado opened this two-game set with an 8-3 victory Tuesday as Tulowitzki, Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon all homered.

"Boston is a great team, going into the playoffs," Dickerson said. "You want to play well, show our resilience as a team and to play hard to the last game."

Colorado's starter Wednesday is Jhoulys Chacin (14-9, 3.21), who is 6 2-3 innings shy of his first 200-inning campaign.

The right-hander is 1-4 with a 3.09 ERA in seven career interleague starts. The victory was his lone outing against Boston - a 2-1 home win in which he pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings in 2010.

The Red Sox hitter with the most experience against Chacin is Stephen Drew, who is 5 for 15.