BOSTON (AP) — Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dustin Pedroia and these Boston Red Sox are taking a sweet streak into the World Series, too.
Boston charged to its third straight win, completing yet another October comeback by overpowering the Cleveland Indians, 11-2, Sunday night in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series behind a new pair of rookie Sox.
Matsuzaka pitched five solid innings, Pedroia drove in five runs and the Red Sox — helped by a key blunder by an Indians base coach — finished off their rally from a 3-1 deficit.
Having ended their 86-year title drought in 2004 after digging out of a 3-0 hole against the Yankees in the ALCS, the Red Sox now have a date with Colorado in the World Series. The Rockies, who have won 10 in a row and 21 of 22, will come back from a record eight days off for Game 1 at Fenway Park Wednesday night.
While Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Josh Beckett helped Boston advance, the Indians only added more misery to a city that hasn’t celebrated a World Series championship since 1948.
The Indians were a double-play grounder away from winning the crown at Florida in 1997. They appeared to take control of this series with three consecutive victories, but aces C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona failed to close it out.
Jake Westbrook pitched valiantly in Game 7, and still the Indians came up short. They had a chance to tie it at 3-all in the seventh inning, but third-base coach Joel Skinner mistakenly held up speedy Kenny Lofton as he rounded the bag. With runners at the corners, Casey Blake grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Then, the Red Sox blew it open. Pedroia, who homered earlier, hit a three-run double and Kevin Youkilis launched a bottle rocket, a two-run drive off the giant Coke bottle above the Green Monster.
Boston finished it in style, with Coco Crisp racing back into the center-field triangle to catch Blake’s drive for the final out before crashing into the wall.