10/19/08 12:25 AM EST
Red Sox Short Hops: Game 6
Varitek teams with Youkilis to help force decisive Game 7
By Mark Remme / MLB.com
Boston continues to believe it can make another historic ALCS comeback, shutting down Tampa Bay on the road. Frozen moment
Jason Varitek walked to the plate in the sixth inning having gone 0-for-14 in the ALCS. This time, facing James Shields with the score tied at 2, the Red Sox's captain came through. Varitek lofted a solo home run to right-center field that gave Boston a lead, and Shields would not make it out of the frame.
52 -- At-bats between Varitek's home run in the sixth inning on Saturday and his last home run during the regular season, which came on Sept. 15 against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Youkilis entered the game a career .352 postseason hitter. His homer and two RBIs early in Game 6 further proved his ability to produce in October, and he certainly helped set the tone on Saturday night for the Red Sox's offense.
Crisp seemed to be propelled by his game-tying hit in Game 5. He took the opportunity to again play for the struggling Jacoby Ellsbury by reaching base four times during a 3-for-4 night.
After surrendering eight runs in Game 2 at the Trop, Beckett settled down and pitched his most effective game this postseason. The right-hander surrendered two home runs -- one to Jason Bartlett, who hit only one all regular season -- but he did more than enough to keep the Sox in position to win.
Sense of October
When a team's captain goes hitless in 14 at-bats during a series, then hits a tiebreaking home run in an elimination game, you know it's October. Varitek's long ball epitomized the resilience the Red Sox have become known for in ALCS play.
5 AB, 1 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Comment: Youkilis entered Game 6 batting .409 in the ALCS, and he continued to be a dominant postseason hitter, collecting a homer and two RBIs against Shields.
2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Comment: For the second successive game, Okajima pitched two innings of nearly spotless baseball. He came in for the sixth and seventh frames to relieve Beckett, and he completely shut down the Rays' offense, allowing only one baserunner.
It's official: There will be a Game 7 on Sunday. Boston looked like its season would end during the seventh inning of Game 5, but the resilient Red Sox evened the series and will send Jon Lester to the mound for the decisive Game 7. Based on his regular-season performance, Lester is likely the pitcher the Red Sox would most like to have on the mound.
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.