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Red Sox feeling mile-high

DENVER — Manny Ramirez, in a blue sweatshirt and white do-rag, was laughing and giving teammates a thumbs-up. David Ortiz stood at first base in gray sweats, a red bandanna around his head, the sun glistening off an earring on his left lobe.

Out in left field, Julian Tavarez was flat on the grass, getting his legs stretched out in an outfield that's baseball's equivalent of a prairie. Players looked up at the Rockpile in center, filled with spruce, pine and oak trees, some of the foliage turned yellow and red by cool autumn nights.

Fenway Park this isn't.

The Boston Red Sox are on a high, and it's not just because of their 2-0 World Series lead. After filtering out of Fenway in the dead of night, they arrived at their hotel at 5 a.m. Friday and eight hours later were at Coors Field, checking out the dry, thin air of a ballpark as unique as the one off Kenmore Square.

As preparation, the Red Sox told their players to drink, drink, drink — water, that is. The message was everywhere.

"On the plane, all over the locker room, trainer's room: Just drink that water, stay hydrated," said rookie Jacoby Ellsbury, who will roam center field between Ramirez in left and J.D. Drew in right.

With no designated hitter in the National League city, the Red Sox were in a quandary. Ortiz, slowed by a bad knee, will move to first base while regular first baseman Kevin Youkilis is benched and Mike Lowell remains at third. Ortiz played seven times at first this year, all in interleague play. He's not a Hoover.

"Anything around me, it's going to be (caught). After that, I don't know," he said. "I've played first base before and it wasn't that bad. It's just not Gold Glove-caliber."

Denver was founded in 1858 by gold prospectors, but these teams are chasing 200 or so troy ounces of silver — the World Series trophy. And while Boston hoped to paint the town red, people downtown wore Rockies purple as they readied for Denver's first-ever World Series game.

After winning 21 of 22 entering the Series and sitting around for eight days, Colorado is hitting .180 against the Red Sox — 100 points below its NL-leading average during the regular season. Rockies batters have 11 hits and 22 strikeouts, and their pitchers have walked 15 to Boston's three.

Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui — Nos. 1 and 2 in the Rockies' batting order — have combined to go 1-for-15.

And here's a more daunting stat: 27 of 34 previous teams to open 2-0 at home have gone on to win the Series, including 11 straight since the 1981 New York Yankees flopped with four straight losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"They took care of home," Hawkins said, "it's time for us to take care of home."