For the second time in four years, the Boston Red Sox completed an epic comeback in the American League Championship Series.
It might not have been as noteworthy or historic as their comeback from being down 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS, but the 2007 club staged a rally of its own in the league championship series against the Cleveland Indians.
Boston stormed back from a 3-1 deficit against Cleveland to win three straight, including a Game 7 rout at Fenway Park to capture the AL pennant.
That Game 7 victory over the Indians can be seen Monday night on NESN at 8 p.m. ET in the latest installment of Red Sox Encore.
Here a few things you might have forgotten about that game ahead of NESN’s broadcast.
1. Rolling the dice
Given what we know about how Daisuke Matsuzaka’s American career turned out, it’s pretty wild he was given the ball to start a Game 7. But, quite frankly, the pitcher’s first two seasons in the big leagues were his best, and perhaps he had no finer moment than this start. Matsuzaka ultimately was a relative afterthought, but he did his job. The right-hander did what he did best, wiggling in and out of trouble to give Boston five innings, allowing two runs on six hits. More significant, Matsuzaka didn’t issue a single walk.
2. Good to be lucky and lucky to be good
The game absolutely turned in the Red Sox’s favor in the top of the seventh inning. The Indians looked poised to take advantage of a Julio Lugo error that had Kenny Lofton standing on second with one out and the Tribe trailing just 3-2. Things looked even better for Cleveland when Franklin Gutierrez was able to sneak a ground ball down the third-base line by Kevin Youkilis. The ball took an awkward bounce off the wall that jets out in left field of Fenway Park, caroming into the outfield. While Lofton — playing in his final big league game — no longer showcased the speed that helped him swipe 75 bags earlier in his career, he still should have scored. However, Cleveland third base coach Joel Skinner held Lofton at third base.
On the very next pitch, Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Casey Blake that eradicated the threat and set the stage for the Sox to blow things open.
3. Laser Show premiere
If anyone had any doubts as to whether Dustin Pedroia had arrived, he erased them with his Game 7 performance. The eventual Rookie of the Year winner had his best game in a Boston uniform when it mattered most. The second baseman was a thorn in Cleveland’s side all night, going 3-for-5 with five RBIs — out of the leadoff spot. He also helped blow the game wide open (when it was still very close), launching a two-run home run off Jake Westbrook in the seventh inning that gave the Sox some much-needed breathing room.
It’s a home run and a play that kind of gets lost in the fact that the Red Sox ultimately won the game by nine runs, but save for J.D. Drew’s grand slam in Game 6, it was probably the biggest hit of the series.
“It was the biggest at-bat of my life, and I’ll never forget it,” Pedroia told reporters after the game.
4. Crisp finish
Again, the outcome was no longer in doubt by the time the ninth inning rolled around, but this game and series still ended in dramatic fashion. With Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound, Blake hammered a pitch to deep right field. Adding unneeded proof this wasn’t going to be the Tribe’s night, Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp went into a dead sprint and was able to make a sensational catch in the triangle. The highlight-reel grab ended the game and the series, giving the Red Sox the pennant and sending Boston back to the World Series.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images