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Manny, Sox dressed to thrill

Tim Brown
Yahoo Sports

CLEVELAND – The dress shirt was striped purple. The tie was electric purple.

Manny Ramirez was pimpin' the wardrobe after midnight.

So David Ortiz commandeered a newsman's microphone, pushed it close to Ramirez's face and shouted, "Hey, Manny, one more question. Everybody wants to know, when's the funeral?"

Ramirez grinned and flipped at his neckwear, the shade of a grape Popsicle.

"I want to take this tie to Colorado," he said.

Yeah, they've postponed the memorial service, postponed Cleveland's party, dragged the whole American League championship series back to Boston, basically because Josh Beckett's turn came around again, and Manny's starting to dress in the colors of their World Series dreams.

Maybe there's a little idiot in them after all.

"We have a chance," their catcher, Jason Varitek, said. "We have a chance to play baseball still."

The Red Sox got themselves into this situation, playing to delay the annual Guess the Day Manny Reports to Spring Training pool, a situation that, as of this morning, still has plenty of meat on it.

But, they did what they could against a team that carried the greater energy into Game 5, including running up C.C. Sabathia's pitch count and pushing across enough early runs to make life easy for their ace. They won, 7-1, and going away.

Beckett has been their starter in both of their ALCS wins. He couldn't pitch every game for them, because, you know, he's got that bum back/shoulder (or whatever the story is today), a malady that wouldn't allow him to throw any harder than 96 m.p.h. with his 102nd pitch Thursday night.

And the wins don't come easy when the offense is generating little but long fly balls, some of which go over the fence, most of which do not.

They played much closer to their regular game behind Beckett, who makes that quite simpler.

Just in case anybody had forgotten about him, Manny didn't slide at the plate when he should have in the first inning, and didn't run hard when he should have in the third inning, neither of which harmed the Red Sox.

Afterward, Ramirez went to repetitive lengths to clarify his "Who cares?" remark from the previous day.

"We leave everything out there, and whatever happens, happens," he said. Later, he added, "No pressure. As long as you leave everything on the field, that's it."

Nearby, Ortiz saw Ramirez getting dangerously close to another seismic misstatement, grabbed his talented and flighty teammate by the arm and gave it a heavy tug.

"OK, that's it," Ortiz roared. "Come here. I don't want you to (mess) up. Come here. We don't need any more of that (B.S.)"

Ramirez resisted, but, when asked about the single he hit off the top of the center-field wall, the one that should have been a double or more, he left without another word.

That they're still playing the series has a lot more to do with Beckett, anyway. He has beaten Sabathia twice, a home-and-home sweep in which the Red Sox have outscored the Indians 17-4. When anyone else has started for the Red Sox, they've been outscored 24-11.

Beckett followed locomotive fastballs with precise curveballs early on, then flipped the order in the late innings.

He threw a fastball straight over Franklin Gutierrez's head in the second inning, then nearly started a fistfight with Kenny Lofton in the fifth inning.

He stood through his ex-girlfriend, country artist Danielle Peck, singing the national anthem before the first inning, then stood while she belted out "God Bless America" in the seventh.

On that, Beckett was especially colorful.

"I don't get paid to make those (expletive) decisions," he said, typically unyielding. "She's a friend of mine. That doesn't bother me at all. Thanks for flying one of my friends to the game so she could watch it for free."

The result of those 3 ½ hours: A win the Red Sox had to have, a ridiculous 1.17 ERA in the playoffs, a more pleasant flight to Boston, and a Curt Schilling-Fausto Carmona rematch Saturday at Fenway.

"We're excited to get back to Boston," Beckett said. "It's going to be a great flight. Better than if we would have went down losing. This is not where we want to be. But, obviously, we're inching closer to where we want to be. Kind of the motto in the clubhouse right now is, 'It's better to die on your feet than live on your knees.'"

Nobody's dead yet, even if Manny's dressed for it.