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Red Sox Short Hops: Game 7

Red Sox Short Hops: Game 7

BOSTON -- Fielding Boston's 11-2 Game 7 win over Cleveland on a short hop.

In < 25 words ...
The Red Sox picked up a third straight win over the Indians, earning the right to face the Rockies in this season's World Series.

Frozen moment
With a runner on base and two outs in the fifth inning, Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka peered in to face Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera with Boston clinging to a 3-2 lead. The pair engaged in a nine-pitch at-bat, in which Cabrera fouled off four of Dice-K's offerings. Finally, Matsuzaka fired a pitch that tailed away from Cabrera, who flailed at the baseball for strike three.

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Big number
5 -- Matsuzaka logged five innings after lasting just 4 2/3 frames in each of his first two postseason starts.

Game balls

Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia jump-started Boston's offense in the first inning, gave the Red Sox an important cushion in the seventh, and put the game to bed in the eighth. Boston's second baseman opened the first with a single and later scored on a base hit by Manny Ramirez to put the Sox ahead, 1-0. Then, six innings later, Pedroia belted an 0-1 offering from Rafael Betancourt to put Boston on top, 5-2. Pedroia drove in three more runs in the eighth, when he added a bases-loaded double off Betancourt.


Jonathan Papelbon

Papelbon was called into the game earlier than usual to quash a potential eighth-inning rally by the Indians. With runners on first and second base with no outs in the frame, Papelbon entered and recorded three quick outs to escape the jam. Boston's dominant closer then shut the door in the ninth to ignite an on-field celebration by the Sox.


Matsuzaka

The Red Sox didn't need a complete game from Matsuzaka, who gave Boston just enough in an effective five-inning appearance. After two subpar showings this postseason, Dice-K struck out three and walked none, scattering five hits and yielding two runs. It wasn't an overpowering outing, but it was exactly what Boston required with so much on the line.

Sense of October
In the seventh, Boston shortstop Julio Lugo called off Ramirez on a fly ball off the bat of Kenny Lofton. Stirring memories of Bill Buckner's fielding gaffe in the 1986 World Series, the baseball bounced off Lugo's glove and fell to the grass for an error, allowing Lofton to reach second base. Unlike in Buckner's case, though, the Sox escaped the threat two batters later with an inning-ending double play.


Youkilis
Lines of the Game
Hitting
Kevin Youkilis
5 AB, 3 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Comment: Youkilis finished off an impressive series with a monstrous two-run homer to left in the eighth inning.

Okajima
Pitching
Hideki Okajima
2+ IP, 3 H, 0 R
Comment: Okajima bridged the gap to Papelbon with a strong relief performance behind Matsuzaka.

Wakefield
Spoken
"I'm just excited to be a part of a club that's a part of the World Series again. Two in the last four years says a lot about this organization, and it says a lot about our front office and our coaching staff. They've done a tremendous job to get us here." -- Tim Wakefield


Next step
Three years after stunning the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox completed another improbable postseason comeback. This time around, Boston took down Cleveland and will now face Colorado in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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