“DIARY OF A WINNER”

DAVID ORTIZ

A POWERFUL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
The Red Sox clinch the A.L. East title

September 28, 2007 ... The Red Sox, 5-2 winners over the Minnesota Twins that ended at 9:39 p.m., became champions of the American League East an hour and 17 minutes later, at 10:56, when Millar and the Orioles beat the Yankees, 10-9, in 10 innings, a comeback win the Sox watched from inside their clubhouse while several thousand fans watched on the Fenway Park video scoreboard.

The fatigue factor which shut down the homegrown phenom, Clay Buchholz, did not apply to the imported phenom, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who grew up in a culture where if you weren't tired, you weren't trying. On a night the Sox announced that Buchholz would not pitch again this season because of a tired shoulder, Matsuzaka, who became a legend in his native Japan when he threw 250 pitches in a high school game, served notice he is hardly on his last legs as the Sox advance to October. Matsuzaka went eight strong innings, limiting the Twins to two runs on six hits while crossing the 200-threshold in both strikeouts and innings.

David Ortiz, meanwhile, displayed the kind of finishing kick that Yaz made famous in '67, when he went 7 for 8 in the last two games of the Impossible Dream season against the Twins. Ortiz hit his 35th home run, doubled and singled, continuing an extraordinary run that began Wednesday night against Oakland and has continued the last two nights against his former team. Ortiz walked, singled, doubled, and doubled in his last four plate appearances against the Athletics Wednesday. Thursday, it was double, single, home run, single, and walk against the Twins. He doubled and scored on Mike Lowell's single in the first inning, Lowell then coming home on J.D. Drew's double that kicked around in the left-field corner. Ortiz singled in the third inning, setting up the Sox third run, which scored on Lowell's broken-bat infield out. Ortiz finally was retired in the sixth on a ground ball to second, ending a streak of 11 consecutive plate appearances in which he reached safely. He was not deterred for long, hitting one into the Monster seats off Twins reliever Matt Guerrier to make it 5-2 in the eighth. The major league record for consecutive times reaching base is 16, set by Ted Williams in 1957.

When Papelbon finished off the Twins in a 1-2-3 ninth for his 37th save, they were still playing in Baltimore.The sellout crowd of 36,843 at Fenway Park broke into a chant of "Let's Go, Orioles," as the video scoreboard switched to the live feed of the Yankees game.

DAISUKE MATSUZAKA

Matsuzaka, meanwhile, did a great job disposing of thoughts that he was running on empty. He'd raised those questions with desultory performances in his previous seven starts, in which he'd posted a 1-4 record with an 8.15 ERA. The Sox pushed him back three days before his last start, giving him seven days of rest before he pitched last Saturday against the Devil Rays. The results were mixed, Matsuzaka giving up five runs in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

There was nothing so-so about his performance last night. Matsuzaka struck out the first two batters, and allowed only one runner as far as second base before Justin Morneau homered to start the seventh. He struck out the next batter, Michael Cuddyer, before walking rookie Garrett Jones on a full count, the first walk he issued. Matthew LeCroy hit a ground-rule double, the ball hopping into the right-field grandstand, and Brian Buscher's roller to Dustin Pedroia at second brought home Minnesota's second run. Nick Punto lined to center to end the inning.

It was a measure of Terry Francona's confidence in his starter that Matsuzaka came back out for the eighth, a confidence that was rewarded when Matsuzaka struck out Jason Bartlett on a 95-mile-per-hour fastball, his eighth and final whiff. Jason Kubel walked, then Torii Hunter hit into a double play. Matsuzaka became just the 14th rookie in club history to throw as many as 200 innings in a season (204 2/3), the first since Frank Sullivan in 1954. He has 201 strikeouts, adding to his rookie record that far eclipses the 155 by Ken Brett in 1970.

The Sox had not won a division title since 1995, and ended a run of nine straight division titles the Yankees. With Cleveland winning in Kansas City, the Red Sox are assured of opening their division series against the Los Angeles Angels next week in Fenway Park. The Indians will meet the Yankees in the other divisional matchup. The Sox and Indians, with two games left, remain tied for the best record in the league at 95-65; the winner gets to choose to start its first round with a Wednesday-Friday format, or a Thursday-Friday schedule, the former favoring a team that would like to pitch its top two pitchers twice in the best-of-five series.

 

F   E   N   W   A   Y     P   A   R   K

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

 

R

H

E

 
 

MINNESOTA TWINS

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

 

 

2

6

1

 
 

BOSTON RED SOX

2

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

x

 

 

5

8

0

 

 

W-Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12)
S-Jonathan Papelbon (37)
L-Kevin Slowey (4-1)
Attendance - 36,843

 2B-Cuddyer (Minn), LeCroy (Minn), Ortiz (Bost),
 Drew (Bost), Lowell (Bost)

 HR-Morneau (Minn), Ortiz (Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Dustin Pedroia 2b 4 0 1 .317  

 

Manny Ramirez lf 3 1 0 .296  

 

Bobby Kielty lf 1 0 0 .224  

 

David Ortiz dh 4 2 3 .333  

 

Mike Lowell 3b 4 2 2 .325  

 

J.D. Drew rf 4 0 1 .266  

 

Kevin Youkilis 1b 4 0 1 .286  

 

Jason Varitek c 3 0 0 .254  

 

Jacoby Ellsbury cf 3 0 0 .343  

 

Julio Lugo ss 3 0 0 .236  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Daske Matsuzaka 8 6 2 2 8  
  Jon Papelbon 1 0 0 0 0  

 

 

         

 

 

 

2007 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

(*) BOSTON RED SOX 95 65 -

 

 

New York Yankees 92 68 3

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 82 78 13

 

 

Baltimore Orioles 69 91 26

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays 65 95 30

 

 
 (*) Clinched the A.L. East Title