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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
For the fifth time in six years, the Red Sox will play in October
Not to get all Bill Simmons on you (my friends and dad are the coolest!) but I thought the text I received from my buddy last night perfectly summed up the Sox' playoff clincher: "Ortiz out for two months, Manny shipped off, Beckett hurt and not himself, Drew lost on August 7, Lowell fucked for much of the year, no depth in the bullpen....How are we going to the playoffs again??" The fact that my friend Will (from Belmont, MA) currently lives in Chicago, just proves how much of a fan that he is since he summed up the season better than I could have and I've been writing about them for months!
Boston (92-65) beat Cy Young favorite Cliff Lee (22-3; it was his first loss since July 6) and the Cleveland Indians (79-78) last night at Fenway, 5-4, to clinch a playoff spot.
The celebration may have been a bit over the top but as the past Wild Card winners have shown, if you can make the playoffs in baseball, you have as good a shot as any other team to advance deep into it and maybe even win the World Series. This Sox team has been held together by band aids and supporting players for the past few months but if Lowell and Drew can comeback, not to mention if Beckett can continue to rebound in his favorite time of year no less, Boston just might be celebrating another World Series title in a little over a month.
Kevin Youkilis (three walks) hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give his team a 2-0 lead. Cleveland scored four runs off Tim Wakefield in the fifth, to temporarily go up 4-3. Grady Sizemore had an RBI single, Jamey Carroll had an RBI groundout while Shin-Soo Cho and Jhonny Peralta added RBI doubles.
In the fifth, Dustin Pedroia (2 hits, 2 RBIs, run) knocked in Jacoby Ellsbury (who extended his career high 14 game hit streak) and Coco Crisp. Jason Bay knocked in Pedroia with an RBI single that turned out to be the winning run.
Wakefield (10-11) wasn't great but he got the win after six innings of work. He allowed four earned runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
The Red Sox bullpen stepped up as Manny Delcarmen got two outs, Hideki Okajima made Victor Martinez pop up with the bases loaded and two outs to end the seventh. Justin Masterson recorded the first two outs in the eighth before running into trouble. No problem though as Jonathan Papelbon retired Carroll on his first pitch, stranding the bases loaded again. Papelbon struck out two in the ninth with some gas as the 1-2-3 inning gave him his 41st save of the season.