Monday, October 22, 2007

ALCS: Red Sox Complete Comeback, Bomb Indians 11-2 in Game Seven

Boston 11 Cleveland 2 - When Josh Beckett won game 5 in Cleveland with an overwhelming 7-1 win, the handwriting was on the wall. Down 3 games to 2, the Red Sox forced the series back to Boston, where two wins would seal the AL pennant for the Red Sox. Cleveland had managed a split in the first two games in Boston, but it wasn't easy. The Indians had to go 11 innings in game two for their 13-6 victory. Winning one, with a trip to the World Series on the line, would prove to be a hill too high for the Indians to climb. Game seven had ominous overtones for Cleveland from the very first inning, in which the Red Sox loaded the bases, only to let Indians' starter Jake Westbrook off the hook, scoring just one run. The Sox scored single runs in the second and third innings for a 3-0 lead, but the Indians cut that to 3-2 with a run in each of the 4th and 5th innings off eventual winner, Daisuke Matsuzaka. In the seventh, Dustin Pedroia (right) finally got to reliever Rafael Betancourt, who had only allowed one hit and no earned runs in four previous appearances lasting 6 1/3 innings, blasting a two-run homer over the Green Monster in left field, and the rout was on. The Sox eventually plated 7 runs off Betancourt, with Pedroia again providing the big hit, a bases-loaded double in the 8th. Pedroia, who had singled and scored in the first inning, finished the game with 3 hits in 5 at-bats, 5 RBI and 3 runs. Kevin Youkilis also singled, doubled and homered in 5 at-bats. His solo homer in the 8th was his 3rd long ball of the series. Youkilis' numbers for the series were incredible. He hit safely in every game, going 14-28 (.500) with 7 RBI and 10 runs. Though pitcher Josh Beckett was named series MVP for his two wins, Youkilis easily qualified for the award. In the four Red Sox wins, Boston outscored Cleveland, 40-8. Notable failures for the Indians were their two headline hitters, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner. Leadoff man, Sizemore, was 6-for-27 (.222) and just 1-7 in the final two games.
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Hafner, who finally doubled in his final at-bat, finished a woeful 1-27 (.037) for the series with 12 strikeouts. The biggest disappointment for Cleveland had to be their front-line pitching. C.C. Sabathia, 19-7 in the regular season, started games one and five and was the loser in both, giving up 17 hits, 7 walks and 12 earned runs in 10 1/3 combined innings. Games two and six starter, Fausto Carmona, was even worse, allowing 10 hits, 9 walks and 11 runs in a combined 6 innings, lasting just two frames and taking the loss in critical game six. Carmona was 19-8 over the regular season. Boston will host the Colorado Rockies in games 1 and 2 of the World Series, Wednesday and Thursday. Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, game 5, will be played in Denver, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. First pitch is slated for 8:23 pm ET for all games. The Rockies have won seven straight, sweeping the Phillies and Diamondbacks in their two playoff rounds. Colorado has won 21 of their last 22 games, and by the time the series gets started, will have had 8 days rest.

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