cleveland indians

cleveland indians

2007 ALCS (Game 7) Indians at Red Sox-10/21/2007

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The pitching match-up for Game 7 was a rematch of Game 3, featuring Jake Westbrook for Cleveland and Japanese rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka for Boston. The Red Sox returned Cleveland's favor from Game 5 by playing "It Ends Tonight" before the game, poking fun at the Indians' untimely prediction. In the first three innings, Matsuzaka looked like the more dominant starting pitcher of the night retiring the first eight batters he faced before giving up a base hit to number-nine hitter Casey Blake; he then struck out Grady Sizemore to end the inning. Meanwhile, during those same first three innings, Indians starter Jake Westbrook gave up seven hits, one walk (intentionally), and three runs. Fortunately for Cleveland, Westbrook settled down and pitched three shutout innings, striking out four, and their offense began to take advantage of Matsuzaka putting up single runs in the top of the fourth and fifth. Boston's top two relief pitchers took over after Matsuzaka's exit following the fifth inning; Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon were able to hold Indians hitters scoreless over the final four frames, giving up just four hits combined, all singles. Rookies Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia were the center of the offense in the seventh with Ellsbury reaching second on a Blake error then Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run home run into the Green Monster seats, giving the Red Sox some insurance runs—a 5–2 lead. The Sox put up a six-spot in the bottom of the eighth—highlighted by a three-RBI double by Pedroia and a two-run Kevin Youkilis monster shot—which cemented their victory and led to their second American League championship and World Series appearance in four years. In the seventh inning with one out and Kenny Lofton at second base, Franklin Gutiérrez singled over the third base bag, into foul territory, with the ball ricocheting back into left field off the infamous angular foul territory fence of Fenway Park. Shortstop Julio Lugo and outfielder Manny Ramirez went after the ball. As he was about to turn toward home plate, third base coach Joel Skinner held Lofton at third. The Indians' at-bat ended when Casey Blake hit into a 5–4–3 double play. The Red Sox would go on to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh and six more in the eighth, turning the game into a rout. This marked the third time Boston came back from a three games to one deficit in a League Championship Series. They had previously done so in 1986 and in 2004 against the New York Yankees. It was a painful defeat for Cleveland, as they had blown such a big lead in games to cost them a shot at going to their first World Series in 10 years. The Indians would not return to the playoffs for the next six years.