|Game 161: September 29, 2007|
|Twins||2||BS, L: Nick Blackburn (1, 0-2)||78-83, 2 game losing streak
20-24-7 series record
|Red Sox||5||W: Tim Wakefield (17-12)
H: Javier Lopez (13)
S: Hideki Okajima (5)
|96-65, 2 game winning streak
33-14-5 series record
2007 AL East Champions
|Highlights: Jacoby Ellsbury needs to brush up on his baseball rule knowledge. The rookie outfielder tried to advance to second when he had already grounded out. His insistence on standing on first while the Twins tried to snare Kevin Youkilis in a run down seemed to confound the Minnesota defense, so perhaps his gaffe yielded an unexpected benefit. Terry Francona, Brad Mills, and Coco Crisp were highly amused.|
Tim Wakefield is the only player who experienced the previous AL East title still with the team. If the cost for his post-clinch carousing was two solo shots, it was a price the Red Sox offense could match and beat.
Especially with the regression of J.D. Drew to his expected levels of production. His poor performance in May and July are dragging down what has been an outstanding September (.342 BA, .454 OBP, .618 slugging). The right fielder fell a double short of hitting for the cycle, but more importantly his extra base hits provided the prelude and coda to the win that secured home field advantage throughout the postseason. (Later in the evening Cleveland would fall to Kansas City, leaving Boston with the best record in baseball and the edge in the season series against the AL Central champions.)
Drew’s fourth-inning triple soared over Torii Hunter’s head at the juncture of the left and center field walls. He was plated by Kevin Youkilis’s gap double that roped into left-center. It was Youkilis’s first extra base since his return to the lineup.
With two men on and two out in the seventh Drew got a hold of a hanging slider and deposited it into the bleachers for the lead.
Just before the game-breaker Coco Crisp had scored on a bloop single to shallow center off the bat of Mike Lowell. Had Hunter made a play like Crisp did against the Twins center fielder in the second, the inning would have been over. Hopefully managers and coaches voting on the Gold Glove took note.
Javier Lopez appeared to have broken up his tendency to allow the first batter he faces to reach on a walk or line drive. He sat three batters with consecutive ground outs to first. Although these easy outs came against the weakest part of the order, it was a step towards establishing some consistency and confidence in the sidearmer’s stuff.
With Jonathan Papelbon otherwise indisposed, Hideki Okajima was tapped to perform closing duties. Joe Mauer and Hunter both singled with alarming nonchalance.
With runners at the corners, Okajima rebounded by freezing Justin Morneau for the first out; the called final strike was open to interpretation. Michael Cuddyer rapped a comebacker to the mound and a 1-4-3 double play ended the threat and the game, the first win for the American League East champions.