October 18, 2008
Red Sox force decisive Game 7: Varitek's clutch homer helps Boston live for another day (Ian Browne, 10/19/08, MLB.com)
Jon Lester, Mr. Consistency all year for the Sox, will take the ball Sunday night hoping to avenge a rare shaky outing in Game 3. Matt Garza, who beat Lester in that matchup, will be Tampa Bay's Game 7 starter.Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2008 11:11 PM
To get to Lester, the Red Sox got a gritty performance by Josh Beckett, who seemed to be pitching at less than 100 percent. Beckett gave Boston five innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one and striking out three. The biggest clue that Beckett was hurting was the sight of Javier Lopez warming up in the bullpen throughout the fourth and Hideki Okajima following suit in the fifth.
In Beckett's final inning, he surrendered a game-tying homer to left by No. 9 hitter Jason Bartlett, who went deep just once in the regular season. Though Beckett's velocity was down to 88-90 mph for much of the inning, he was able to reach back for a 93-mph fastball to get Akinori Iwamura on a groundout to end the inning. That was all for Beckett, who threw 78 pitches.
The bullpen took it from there, setting up the much-anticipated showdown on Sunday night.