Drew Comes Through, Again!


J.D. Drew prolongs Red Sox season with Game-Winning base hit to right to cap off an 8-7 win

(October 16, 2008) – Remember when your teachers would tell you even if you forget your homework one day just turn it in the next because it is “better late than never.” Well that is apparently the philosophy the Red Sox live by in the ALCS.

J.D. Drew is quickly become a Red Sox folk hero. After coming through with a two-run homerun earlier in the game to bring the Sox within one in the bottom of the eighth, Drew drove in Kevin Youkilis with a line drive base hit over Gabe Gross’s head to prolong the Sox season. Before Drew’s at-bat, Youkilis singled to third and advanced to second on Evan Longoria’s throwing error. The Rays would intentionally walk Jason Bay for the lefty-lefty match-up between Drew and J.P Howell, a decision that Tampa Bay would later regret.

When Joe Maddon pushed Big Game James Shields back a day and gave the ball to the Southpaw Scott Kazmir, the Tampa Bay manager also gave Sox fans an early Christmas present. All season the Red Sox have killed Kazmir pitching so it was almost assured the series would be going back to St. Petersburg with the Rays leading the series 3-2.

But the man who once dominated the Red Sox return to his old form and shut out the Sox for six innings on 110 pitches. In those six innings, he scattered two hits while walking three and striking out seven Boston hitters and it looked like the Tampa Bay was on the road to their first World Series appearance in franchise history. But what was so dependable for the Rays during the season and in the playoffs, the bullpen coughed up the lead like the Patriots defense did in the Super Bowl.

Facing elimination for the second time in two years in the ALCS, the Red Sox had the man they wanted taking the hill against the Tampa Bay Rays. Ironically in the 2008 ALCS, Daisuke Matsuzaka was the only Sox starter that had success against the raging Rays. In Game One Matsuzaka took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and ended up shutting out the AL East Champions to put Boston up in series 1-0. Now, three games later, Matsuzaka was called upon to keep the Red Sox season alive for another day.

It took Tampa Bay six innings to get their first hit off of Matsuzaka in Game One but in Game Five it took Akinori Iwamura just six pitches before he lined a single into right field. Sox fans were out in full force, hoping for another magical come-from behind series victory but with one swing of the bat B.J. Upton, once again, let the air out of crowd with a two run on a 1-1 fastball giving the Rays the early 2-0 lead.

A one-out single up the middle in the top of the third inning by Upton put the “P” in MVP of the ALCS to bring the Rays first baseman, Carlos Pena, to the dish with a man on base. Against Matsuzaka, the Northeastern Alum hit a towering fly ball over Pesky’s Pole and when it came down Tampa Bay had a four-run advantage. The Rays continued their power surge when Evan Longoria went back-to-back with Pena, by depositing a 3-2 offering into the second row of the Monster seats and the collective growns of Red Sox Nation “oh here we go again” could be heard in Framingham.

Matsuzaka retired the next five Ray batters before walking Iwamura in the top of the fifth and turning the ball over to fellow country-man Hideki Okajima. Between the two Japanese pitchers, they retired eight out of 10 Tampa Bay batters since Longoria’s long ball back in the third inning.

Manny Delcarmen came in to begin the seventh inning but did not last long. He was quickly was pulled after walking both Jason Bartlett and Iwamura, back-to-back, in favor of the fire-ball closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon was rudely welcomed into the game when Upton rocketed a double off the corner of the scoreboard in left to drive in Bartlett from second and Iwamura from first to give the Rays the 7-0 advantage.

After a long seventh inning, Maddon opted to go to his bullpen after Kazmir already threw 110 pitches. Tampa Bay had one of the best bullpens in the league this season so it was almost a foregone conclusion that they would continue to dominant by getting the last nine outs of the game to cruise into the World Series. But these are the never say die Red Sox and a double into right by shortstop Jed Lowrie reignited the Fenway Faithful.

Coco Crisp kept the inning alive with a two-out single into center field to bring Dustin Pedroia to the plate and “The Little Pony” came through with a base hit to right field to drive in Lowrie and send Crisp to second. David Ortiz struggled all through the post-season but when the game is on the line and there are runners on-base in the late innings, Ortiz is the man you want up at the plate. And once again he proved it as he launched a shot to the same exact area where Pena’s homerun came down four innings prior.

Papelbon was able to retire the side in order in the top of the eighth to get the Sox offense back to the plate. Since coming on in relief of Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler walked Jason Bay to lead off the inning and there is one thing in baseball that is worse than a hit for a pitcher and it is a walk. J.D. Drew had already been a post-season hero once, last year against the Indians, and he came through again this year, bringing the Sox within a run with homerun just right of the Rays bullpen. Wheeler would get Lowrie to fly out to left and strike out Sean Casey, who pinch-hit for Varitek before Mark Kotsay doubled over Upton’s head in center. He came around to score on a base hit to right by Crisp after fouling off numerous pitches from Wheeler until he got the one he wanted, to send the game the game into extra innings.

The Sox send Josh Beckett to the hill in Game Six where he will be opposed by Big Game James Shields. Beckett is coming off one of his worst performances in the playoffs where he gave up the lead three times during Game Two while Shields pitched a tremendous Game One but was outdone by Matsuzaka.


WIN: Justin Masterson

LOSS: J.P. Howell


The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. J.D. Drew, BOSTON ---- 2-4 Homerun, Double, 3 RBIs
  1. Coco Crisp, BOSTON --- 2-4 RBI
  1. B.J. Upton, TAMPA BAY ---- 3-4 Homerun, Double, 4 RBIs

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

told ya!!