Red Sox top Twins 6-4 behind Drew’s 3 hits
BOSTON (AP)—J.D. Drew skipped Boston’s wild celebration of its first AL East title in 12 years. He didn’t miss much Saturday night.
Continuing his surge at the end of a trying season, Drew hit a full-count fastball for a three-run homer in the seventh inning to help the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4.
“It’s (been) frustrating for me not to perform,” he said. “Hopefully, the bat would come back around and, in a situation where you know you’re going to the playoffs, you’ve got to kind of get things straight.”
The win, combined with Cleveland’s loss to Kansas City, guaranteed the Red Sox will have the best record in the AL—with a tiebreaker edge if they match the Indians at 96-66. That gave them the right to choose whether to start their division series at home against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday or Thursday.
They picked Wednesday, giving them an extra day off during the series, and Cleveland will begin Thursday against the New York Yankees.
It was a very satisfying day for Drew, who endured criticism for his poor production after signing a five-year, $70 million contract as a free agent.
He lined the pitch from Nick Blackburn (0-2) into the right-center field stands to put Boston ahead 6-4.
“Real nice to see that ball leave the ballpark,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, “turns the game right around.”
Drew left the ballpark after Friday night’s 5-2 win over Minnesota and wasn’t at Fenway Park 77 minutes later when the New York Yankees lost to Baltimore, clinching the division title for the Red Sox.
He had rushed home to be with his wife, who is eight months pregnant, and 18-month-old son Jack, who recently spent six weeks in a body cast to correct a hip ailment. So he watched the celebration on television with his wife.
“I was extremely excited. My heart was completely in it,” Drew said.
He got a kick out of closer Jonathan Papelbon doing a crazy jig near the mound and spraying champagne in every direction.
“If I saw my son doing that dance on TV,” Drew said, “we would have had a long talk, that’s for sure.”
Drew was fully involved from the start on Saturday.
He singled in the second, tripled and scored in the fourth and finished 3-for-4 with his 11th homer. He is batting .393 in his last 18 games, raising his average from .252 to .270.
Boston slugger David Ortiz got the night off to rest his sore right knee. He had reached base in 11 straight plate appearances before grounding out Friday night. He homered in his next at-bat for the final run. In his last 21 games, he’s hitting .436 with nine homers.
Tim Wakefield (17-12) allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings for Boston after going 0-2 with a 10.70 ERA in his previous four starts.
“Very satisfying, considering the month that I’ve had,” he said.
Hideki Okajima pitched the ninth for his fifth save in seven chances, working out of a sticky jam. The Twins put runners at first and third before Okajima struck out Justin Morneau and got Michael Cuddyer to ground into a double play.
In Japan, he said through a translator, “we lift the manager in the air three, four times” to celebrate, Okajima said. “I think we should do it if we win the World Series.”
Carlos Silva pitched six solid innings for Minnesota and left with a 4-2 lead, but Boston got to Blackburn, who kept throwing fastballs until Drew knocked one into the stands. He allowed four runs in the seventh.
“He’s just got to learn how to slow the ball down,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “When you don’t use all of your pitches, you’re going to get killed.”
Wakefield allowed solo homers by Rondell White, his fourth of the year, in the third, and Mauer, his seventh, in the fourth.
Mike Lowell led off the bottom of the sixth with his 21st homer, giving him a team-high 119 RBIs.
“I’ve had some stretches where I hit the ball really, really well and didn’t get a whole lot to show for it,” he said. “Because of those times, you tend to change things and try to make adjustments when you really don’t need to.”
Now Drew is hoping for the biggest celebration of all.
“I’ve often said I want to pop champagne on that last go-around when the World Series is over and we’re winning that,” he said.
Youkilis went 3-for-3 after hitting .239 in his previous 67 games. … Minnesota didn’t issue a walk for the 23rd game this season, increasing its major league-high total.
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