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Drew wins postseason play of the year

Drew wins postseason play of the year

BOSTON -- Yes, there was some amount of dread when a bases-loaded, nobody-out rally suddenly became two outs and the batter left to rescue the Red Sox and salvage some runs was J.D. Drew. To be frank, Drew did not deliver during much of his inaugural season in Boston and the Fenway faithful had grown frustrated by it.

But this was Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and Drew had the golden opportunity to erase a season's worth of frustration with one swing. The left-handed hitter did just that, stroking a grand slam just over the wall in center field that provided a jolt of electricity though the ballpark.

It was an early knockout punch delivered by Drew and the Red Sox, busting out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning of an eventual 12-2 romp that would force Game 7.

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The dramatic slam resonated so much that it was voted as the top moment in the 2007 postseason in MLB.com's annual The Year in Baseball awards, as voted on by the fans.

Drew rounds out a loaded list of Red Sox players to receive TYIB awards, joining Hideki Okajima (top setup man), Josh Beckett (top starter), Jonathan Papelbon (top closer) and Clay Buchholz (top performance).

In the big picture, the Red Sox hope that Drew's strong finish -- he hit .360 in the ALCS and .333 in the World Series -- will help propel him to a far better 2008.

Like a lot of players, Drew struggled in his first year in Boston.

But he is under contract for four more years and the Red Sox are confident that a more relaxed Drew will also be a more effective Drew.

His grand slam in Game 6 came against Fausto Carmona, one of the most talented starting pitchers in baseball. But Drew worked the count to 3-1 and then hammered a 97-mph heater out of the yard.

"Yeah, it was a great feeling," said Drew. "More than anything, I was just trying to hit a ball hard up the middle, get a pitch out over the plate that I could handle."

Ian Browne 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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