Dustin Pedroia, the man Mike Lowell says is 4-foot-8, on his seventh-inning home run:
I hit it good, and the wind was kind of blowing out to center and it kind of started pushing it, so I was like, 'Geez, don't hit the top of the fence.' Once it went out, man, I was so excited and had so much adrenaline going on, I don't even remember running around the bases to tell you the truth. I just got around there. It was the biggest at-bat of my life.Mike Timlin called Peewee's dong "a nail in their coffin".
The play that will be discussed for a long time in Cleveland happened in the top of the inning. Boston led 3-2 and Hideki Okajima was in his second inning of relief. With one out, Kenny Lofton popped up to short left. Julio Lugo went back, called off Manny Ramirez, and had the ball glance of the webbing of his glove for an error.
Jeemer got ahead of Franklin Gutierrez 1-2 before Gutierrez lined a single over the third base bag. The ball caromed off the low wall in foul territory and rolled into short left field. Cleveland third base coach Joel Skinner decided to hold Lofton at third.
Replays showed that Lofton had touched the bag before Manny got to the ball. After he stopped, Lofton looked back towards the outfield, then whipped his head around to glare at Skinner.
That ball sometimes kicks right back to the shortstop. We've all seen that, at least I've seen it. With one out, you have to be sure of things. ... [I]t's just a matter of how close the shortstop is. Lugo was there and the ball ended up a little deeper than I thought.First and third with one out is not a bad situation, but Skinner -- with the Spiders down tot heir last eight outs -- should have tried to tie the game.
I did my job. I listened to the third base coach.Lowell:
Sometimes that ball comes right to the shortstop. That's a tough angle. I had a tough angle. After the fact, maybe you say he had a chance, but I don't think you can second-guess that play.Casey Blake then grounded Jeemer's first pitch to Lowell, who started a 5-4-3 double play that ended the rally and the inning. It was only a matter of minutes before Pedroia's home run boosted the score to 5-2 and Boston added six more runs in the eighth.
Pedroia assumed Lofton had scored and said the stop sign and Blake's GIDP was a "huge momentum swing". Lowell agreed: "We were treading water, wasting some opportunities. But after Dustin's big hit, we poured it on."
And they did it against Rafael Betancourt, who had not allowed a run in four previous post-season games this month. Although he retired Ramirez to start the eighth, Betancourt then was allowed to stay on the mound while Lowell doubled to left-center, Drew singled to center (6-2), Varitek doubled on a pop-up that fell by beside Blake and Peralta down the left field line, Ellsbury was intentionally walked, Lugo struck out, and Pedroia doubled off the left-center wall (9-2).
Jensen Lewis came in. Youkilis crushed his third pitch halfway up one of the big Coke bottles above the Wall and it was 11-2. Betancourt was charged with seven runs in 1.2 innings.
Youkilis finished the series 14-for-28; his .500 batting average set an ALCS record. Pedroia scored eight runs, the most for a rookie in an LCS. Boston's .318 batting average broke Toronto's record of .301, set in 1993. And the Red Sox scored 51 runs in the series, setting an LCS record set by the Yankees (45) in 2004.
In the first innings of the three must-win games, Boston batters went 10-for-19 (.526) and scored six runs. That was a huge reason why Cleveland was never able to get a lead in Games 5, 6 or 7.
I think when you're in this kind of pressure cooker, you can either fold or implode or you can relax and be yourself. That's what our guys do. None of the circumstances bother them.Kevin Millar:
This group had it easy. They had already won a game. We were down 0-3.