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Notes: Foulke closes the deal10/20/2004 3:17 AM ET
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- He has thrown 100 pitches over the last three days. That is nearly uncanny for his role, which is the closer of the Red Sox.
But if there's one thing you can be pretty confident about heading into Game 7 of the latest American League Championship Series epic between the Red Sox and Yankees, it is this: Keith Foulke will be available.
Thanks to Foulke willing his way through a 28-pitch ninth inning in Tuesday night's Game 6, the Red Sox held on for a 4-2 victory, setting up the highest drama imaginable for Wednesday night.
Foulke issued two walks in the inning, and with two outs, batter Tony Clark represented the potential pennant-winning run. But before you could say "Aaron Boone," Foulke struck out Clark on a 3-2 pitch.
"That was a phenomenal save, and he'll be ready to go for us [Wednesday]," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.
Remarkably, Foulke said he felt fresher in Game 6 than he had in the previous two games. He didn't seem to have any doubt in his mind that he'll be ready to go again in the series finale.
"We've got a massage guy here that's really working us and keeping us fresh," said Foulke.
While fans all across New England were probably biting their nails right off with every Foulke pitch in the ninth, the closer himself kept his composure.
"I'm really proud to be part of this team and to be part of that city and that region," said Foulke. "But when I'm out there, I don't think about the pressure."
Pedro in relief? Foulke might have a pretty accomplished pitcher helping him in the late innings in Game 7. Ace Pedro Martinez, who threw 111 pitches in Monday's no-decision, is planning on being available on one day of rest. As in any Game 7, manager Terry Francona would pretty much have all hands on deck.
"Any time I can throw again, I'm going to be out there," Martinez said on Monday. "Forget about it. There's no time to be sore or aching or tired."
With that in mind, Martinez stayed back in Boston on Monday night and worked out at Fenway Park Tuesday morning before joining the team at Yankee Stadium.
Mueller moves up: Going by the matchups, Francona moved third baseman Bill Mueller up to the two-hole for Game 6. While Jon Lieber has dominated the Red Sox the last two times he's faced them, Mueller has fared well against the right-hander during his career. Entering Tuesday, the switch-hitter was .484 (15-for-31).
By contrast, Orlando Cabrera, who batted second in Games 4 and 5, was 2-for-18 against Lieber with no RBIs.
As it turns out, Mueller went 0-for-4 and Cabrera went 2-for-4.
Mueller, the league's defending batting champion, began the year as Boston's No. 2 hitter. But Francona switched him to the lower part of the order on May 4 and he stayed there.
"I don't think Billy likes hitting second over the course of a season," said Francona. "I think tonight it's the best thing to do for our ballclub."
Instant classic: Aside from winning the game, many Sox players felt lucky to just be a part of the epic that was Game 5.
"The first thing that I thought of was, 'I might wind up on ESPN Classic.' That was the most fun I've ever had playing baseball," said Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. "It was an unbelievable game to be a part of. Too bad somebody had to lose it."
Making an impact: While Dave Roberts got a lot more playing time with the Dodgers than he has in Boston since the July 31 trade, he fully understands how important his speed is to the Red Sox in the late innings, especially with the stakes this high.
The stolen base by Roberts in Game 4 that set up Boston's tying run against Mariano Rivera was one of the biggest plays of the series to date.
"I'm just trying to disrupt the pitching staff over there. They've got a great relief core with [Tom] Gordon and Mariano," said Roberts. "To just be conventional, you're going to be unsuccessful 99 percent of the time. I think for me to be on base and be proactive and try to push the envelope with those guys, whether it means to make them slide step or pitch out and get behind and throw fastballs, whatever it means, instead of giving up an out with those guys, I'm just trying to give our team a chance to win."
Thanks, but no thanks: While it has been duly noted the type of workload both pitching staffs endured in Games 4 and 5, both catchers were on the field for all 26 innings.
"I asked [Jason Varitek] last night at the airport if he wanted the day off," said Francona. "He politely declined. Their guys are doing the same thing. That's just the way it is right now."
Varitek turned out to be key to the victory, working a 10-pitch at-bat off Lieber and lining an RBI single to center, which helped set up Mark Bellhorn's three-run homer.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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