10/28/07 1:00 AM ET
Red Sox Short Hops: Game 3
Rookies' contributions help Matsuzaka keep Rockies away
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
After Josh Fogg's aggressiveness worked the first time through the order, the Red Sox batted around for a six-run third inning before holding on late. Frozen moment
If Jacoby Ellsbury's retreat to the center-field fence wasn't enough drama in a thwarted Rockies comeback in the sixth inning, Julio Lugo's quick leap to snare Jeff Baker's line drive was potentially the play of the game. He seemingly hung in the air to take away what initially looked like a sure gap double that would've scored two runs and brought the tying run to the plate. Big number
14 -- Doubles by the Red Sox through three games of this series. The record for a four-game World Series is 12, set by the Sox in their 2004 sweep of the Cardinals. The record for a World Series of any length is 19, shared by the 1910 Philadelphia A's and 1946 Cardinals. Game balls
If it hasn't been said enough already, the future is now for the Red Sox with their rookie center fielder and leadoff hitter. He doubled twice in the same inning, something only Matt Williams had done previously in World Series history, and he added a momentum-killing RBI double in the eighth. Between his efficient hitting and reliable defense in the outfield, Ellsbury is playing far beyond his experience level.
It wasn't a masterpiece, but his 5 1/3 innings with three hits allowed marked his best numbers of the postseason. His two-out RBI single in the six-run third was amazing, but his 1-2-3 performance in the bottom of the inning was a textbook example of a shutdown inning to put the Red Sox in command.
The other half of the 1-2 rookie duo atop the Red Sox's lineup had an underrated performance. His sacrifice bunt attempt in the second inning was placed so well between home plate and the pitcher's mound that he beat the throw to first for his second infield single of the game. A line-drive RBI single capped a three-run eighth and a three-hit game for the new No. 2 hitter.
Sense of October
If there's an American League pitcher batting in a National League park, it's either Interleague Play or the World Series. If it were the former, Matsuzaka would not have had nearly as much pressure to produce anything offensively, even coming up with two outs and two on. However, Matsuzaka's 5-for-20 career stats hitting in Japan show he can do something with the bat, and he had an opportunity to put his team in total command when he came to bat in the third. His single through the left side wasn't luck.
5 AB, 4 H, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R
Comment: Now that's an igniter atop a lineup that hasn't always had that this postseason.
1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 Ks
Comment: He didn't stop the Rockies' rally in its tracks, but he retired three straight to strand the tying run on base.
"I was almost going to pull the base out of the ground and say, 'I'm the greatest,' but I thought that might be a stretch." -- Mike Lowell, on stealing third, referring to Rickey Henderson
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.