Positive vibe from confident Sox
With ALCS knotted up, Boston looks to finish comeback
BOSTON -- There was an air of confidence that permeated throughout the Red Sox's clubhouse late Saturday night following the 12-2 pummeling of the Indians that forced Game 7 of this American League Championship Series.
The comeback from down 3-1 is not complete yet. The Red Sox still have another game to win. But they have enough positive recent history on their side to feel good about the situation and to know what to expect.
Since 1999, the Red Sox have played 16 postseason elimination games. Their record in those games? An impressive 13-3.
"You can't give up because you're down," said Sox slugger David Ortiz. "We've been down before and we know how to come out. All the new kids around, they're seeing that. The older guys, we keep it together."
If the Red Sox win Game 7, it will mark the fifth time they've come back from a deficit of either 3-1 in a best-of-seven series or 2-0 in a best-of-five.
The 1986 Red Sox were down 3-1 to the Angels in the ALCS before riding Dave Henderson's homer with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 5 to one of the most dramatic wins in team history. They routed the Angels in Games 6 and 7 at Fenway.
Much more recently, the Red Sox have experienced high drama. The '99 squad rallied back from 2-0 to beat the Indians in the AL Division Series. The 2003 Red Sox did the exact same thing against the A's.
Then there are those Red Sox of 2004, who are in company by themselves as the only team in history to rally back from 3-0 in a postseason series, as they turned the tables on the Yankees in the ALCS.
As a reminder of that not too distant past, the Red Sox brought out Bill Mueller -- now working in the Dodgers' front office -- to throw out the first pitch of Game 6. Kevin "Cowboy Up!" Millar, despite the fact he plays for the Orioles, will do the honors before Game 7.
These 2007 Red Sox are trying to earn their own chapter of comeback lore.
"We've got momentum," said Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. "Right now, we're in a comfort zone with this last game. We feel comfortable, we're at our own home, and we have firepower in our bullpen."
The Sox also have firepower at the plate, namely from the fearsome 3-4 combo of Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
While this is all foreign territory to the Indians, the Red Sox have been here before -- and they know it.
"We're not comfortable, we're confident," said Ortiz. "This is it. This is where you want to be. I like to be in this situation. This is it. There's no tomorrow. This is ride or die right here. [On Sunday], the best team is going to win. If you make any mistakes, you're going to have to wait until next year."
And it would be a mistake, according to Mike Lowell, for the Red Sox to magnify the game any more than it needs to be.
"You can't look at it as Game 7," said Lowell. "You have to look at it as one game you want to win, and tomorrow's game is really no different for us than today's game or two days ago. The implications are the same. We win, we go on. We lose, we go home. I think we have to take it as that."
And unlike the October comebacks of the 1999, 2003 and 2004 squads, the Red Sox have the winner-take-all game in their yard this time. Fenway Park was probably louder than it's been all year in Game 6. That maximum decibel level just might be tested again in Game 7.
"They're going to be crazy tomorrow, dude, just crazy," said Ortiz.
"It's going to be electric," said Boston shortstop Julio Lugo. "[Game 7] is going to decide who's going to go home. We go home or they go home. We're not expecting to go home."
In Game 7 of 2004, Derek Lowe spun a gem on two days of rest. This time around, Josh Beckett, who has been magnificent in this postseason, just might come out of the bullpen on two days of rest.
As always in a Game 7, it's all hands on deck behind the starter -- in this case, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
"You have to bring everything you have," Ortiz said. "I heard Josh, he wants to be in the 'pen tomorrow. That's how it is. There's no tomorrow."
But if the Red Sox win Game 7, there will be several more tomorrows, the first of which come on Wednesday at Fenway Park against the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.