Drew, who went 3-for-4 on Saturday, capped his hot month with some timely heroics. He entered the day on a seven-game RBI streak, which nevertheless looked unsustainable when each of his first three plate appearances came without runners on base. Boston's offense struggled for six listless innings against Minnesota starter Carlos Silva, one night after clinching the AL East title.
Boston first showed signs of life in the fourth. Drew hit a leadoff triple and Kevin Youkilis, who has battled right wrist pain since getting hit by a Chien-Ming Wang fastball on Sept. 15, cracked a high double to deep center, scoring Drew.
A sixth-inning Mike Lowell homer pulled the Red Sox within two runs and Silva gave way to Minnesota's bullpen in the seventh. That set the stage for Drew, who entered with a .441 on-base percentage and a .542 slugging percentage this month, second only to David Ortiz among Red Sox regulars. After Coco Crisp and Alex Cora each singled with one out, and Lowell drove in Crisp, Drew blasted a 3-2 fastball into the right-field bleachers.
"I'm trying to have fun, relax, get pitches I can handle, and hit them where they ain't," Drew said. "The last one was a big one. Definitely a good feeling."
Boston starter Tim Wakefield, who had struggled in four starts since returning from back soreness, pitched seven strong innings, allowing just three earned runs. It was the knuckleballer's longest start since Aug. 25, his last appearance preceding the injury. With it, he tied his career high of 17 wins, set back in 1998.
"[It's] very satisfying, considering the month that I've had," Wakefield said.
American League Division Series schedule
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Boston Red Sox|
|Wed., Oct. 3||6:30 p.m.|| Fenway Park|| TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park || TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||3 p.m.||Angel Stadium|| TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||9:30 p.m.||Angel Stadium|| TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park|| TBS|
|New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians|
|Thu., Oct. 4||6:30 p.m.|| Jacobs Field|| TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||5 p.m.|| Jacobs Field || TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||6:30 p.m.|| Yankee Stadium || TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||6 p.m.|| Yankee Stadium|| TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||5 p.m.|| Jacobs Field || TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
Reliever Javy Lopez entered to pitch a perfect eighth, and fellow lefty Hideki Okajima got the call to make a ninth-inning save, with closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable.
Okajima, who was shut down with a dead arm for almost two weeks, promptly gave up singles to Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter, the latter a "missile" off the left-field wall, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
"But thankfully," Francona added, "[he] didn't get under it."
"We were starting to get in a little bit of a bind there," Francona said, "and we were trying to stay away from [Papelbon] and [Eric] Gagne, so that they can pitch tomorrow. We had [Manny] Delcarmen up, but we really wanted the result to be what it was. We wanted Oki to pitch a good inning."
Okajima punched out Twins slugger Justin Morneau on a 3-2 pitch, then got out of the first-and-third jam by inducing a hard ground ball by Michael Cuddyer. The Japanese southpaw came up with the ball and started a textbook 1-4-3 game-ending double play.
"I got lucky," Okajima said.