We Played With Heart

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It’s definitely not a good feeling, but you can’t dwell on
it. Just get better because of it and make another run at it next year.

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It was a very good series and a great Game 7 of the ALCS.
We’re going to keep our heads high, after battling back the way we did and
giving ourselves a shot to win it tonight. We played hard. Just fell a little
short tonight to the Rays.

Even when Jed Lowrie is up with two outs in the ninth and
we’re down by a couple, everyone still felt like we had a shot. Anything could
have happened. He could have hit a home run, could have got on base. We were in
the game and gave ourselves an opportunity to win, and that’s all you can do.

We played with a lot of heart. We have nothing to hang
our heads about at all. A lot of guys did a tremendous job as a team to get to
this point.

Now that it’s over, I’ll let the body recover a little
bit and go in the offseason and work hard, and build on it and just get better.
I know I can get a lot better. This was my first full season, going through all
of it. I’ll take a lot of the knowledge I gained this year and take it into
this offseason, this Spring Training and into the regular season next year.

Last year was such a whirlwind for me and it ended so
well. Now I know what it takes to go through a full season and go through the
ups and downs.

As a team, we played very well all year, even with all
the injuries we had. Hopefully we can build on this for next year.

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Win Or Go Home

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Coming into this game, we felt confident. Half the battle
was just believing in the first place that we could come back from 3-1, that we
still had a shot.

We did it again tonight, just like in Game 5, though it
didn’t have to be quite so dramatic this time.

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It’s a lot nicer to play like this than to have to come
back from 7-0 down in the bottom of the seventh inning. You never know what can
happen, but it is nice to have the lead going to the latter part of the game.

You have to love what Josh Beckett did for us tonight. He
was tremendous. He only gave up four hits against a team that has been swinging
the bats great. He gave us exactly what we needed and kept us in the ballgame.
He’s obviously not 100 percent right now, but every person on this team still
believes in him and still has confidence when he takes the ball.

The one thing about Josh is that you always know he’ll
give us everything he has, and that’s all you can really ask for.

It was also great to see Jason Varitek get that big home
run. Sure, he was in a slump, but he keeps on grinding out his at-bats and he
got a reward there. When you’re a good hitter, that’s going to happen, so it was
nice to see him roll again.

We got the feeling of what it’s like to play in Game 7
last year. Everything is on the table. It’s win or go home. I guess it’s been
like that for us the last few games, but now it’s that way for both teams. It’s
going to be another great atmosphere tomorrow.

Obviously we like having Jon Lester out there in Game 7.
He’s pitched very well for us all year. I can’t wait for Sunday night to get here.

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A Reason To Believe

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If ever there was a testament to what can happen when
guys just go out there and battle and compete, no matter what the score, this
was it. You always hear about how it’s not over until it’s over, and then you
see something like this to believe it.

We were just grinding out at-bats and playing solid
defense, because you never know what’s going to happen. This was a perfect example
of that.

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We kept on saying in our dugout, “It’s not over. Even until the last
out, you have to always remember that it’s never over. I remember earlier this year we scored eight runs in an
inning. I think I got us going that time with a double. That’s the thing, you
just never know.

Each pitch, each at-bat, each out, you’ve got to stay at
it, and we did. The crowd got into it and so did we. It was exciting for
anyone who was here. It was exciting for the players, it was exciting for the
fans. You definitely feel the energy in the dugout when the place is rocking
like that, and it kind of gets you going. The fans could see how much we were
trying to grind it out.

I think after the seventh inning, when we got four runs and David Ortiz hits the three-run homer,
everyone all of a sudden really felt like we could win the game. All of a sudden
we’re in striking distance. That gave us some life.

Once Kevin Youkilis came across to score the winning run
on J.D.‘s hit in the ninth, the feeling is just one of, “We live for another day.”

That’s all we can do is just get on that plane and go to
Tampa and force a Game 6. We accomplished what we wanted to today.

This is just huge. It gives us a lot of momentum going
into Tropicana Field.
This is an exciting win, very exciting and fun to be a part of. It’s something we’ll never forget.

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Turning The Page After A Tough Loss

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It definitely would have been nice to come out of here
up 2-0. It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t get this one tonight, but we’re already
thinking about Game 3.

This one was a long, exhausting game. The way it started
off, you thought it would be high scoring the whole night. The ball was just
flying out of the park.

But it got tight at the end and it was hard for either
team to do much. Relief pitching did a great job.

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It was nice to get on Scott Kazmir early, but it was just one
of those games. It just didn’t quite go our way. We’ll be ready to get the win
on Monday night.

I had that one at-bat earlier in the game where I tried
to bunt the ball and it slammed me in the helmet. That could have been bad if
you wear it in the face or the nose or the eye. It gave me a headache, but it
could have been worse. I’m fine now.

Everyone wanted to know what happened with Josh Beckett
tonight, but it’s hard for me to tell from right field. When I’m in center
field, I have a little bit better read on where the pitches are missing, or if
they are. He’ll pitch again and I’m sure he’ll pitch well, so we’re not
worried.

We have Jon Lester going in the next game and he’s been
throwing so great, so we have that to look forward to.

The one thing we do on this team is shake off a tough
loss. We’ll get on that plane and forget about the game. Short-term memory is
key.

Full Throttle

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We took the first game on the road, just like we did in Anaheim, but there’s no
letdown. We have Josh Beckett going in Game 2, so we like our chances. But there’s
no coasting, by any means. Full throttle from here on out.

As for this win, it was very big. Both pitchers, both staffs, did a very
good job tonight. Dice-K did a nice job of getting out of some jams.

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I don’t know how Dice-K keeps doing this. He gets in
those jams and finds a way to get out. He makes all the pitches he needs to. It
says a lot about his composure, and keeping his cool and executing his
pitches.

Standing out there in center field and watching those
rallies unfold — especially in games like these — it’s huge when they get a
leadoff runner on, or two runners on, with no outs and he comes away with a zero
on the board. It gives us a lot of confidence in him knowing that if we can put some
runs across, we have a very good shot of winning.

What can you say about their guy, James Shields? He was very good tonight.
We got that one run across and didn’t get that second run — that RBI double from Youk — until he
was out of the game.

Another huge point in the game tonight is when Justin Masterson
came in with two on and one out and Evan Longoria at the plate. It’s the eighth
inning and we’re only up by two runs. We all know how dangerous Longoria is. They
had some momentum going. And Justin gets him to hit into a double play. That
killed their crowd and their momentum in the game. It was huge.

But you knew tonight, the way this was going, it was
going to be a low-scoring game. I think it’s big. Tomorrow is another big game,
so it would be nice to come out of here with two wins and get back home. It’s
very satisfying to get that first one, especially with the few amount of hits
that were in this game.

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Punching Our Ticket to the ALCS

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That was playoff baseball tonight. Wow.

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This is just a great feeling to get a walk-off win in the
ninth.Jed Lowrie, a rookie, gets the game-winning hit. As a fellow
young guy, I’m so happy for him. He works his tail off and comes to the yard
prepared every single day. He deserves it. He’s had a tremendous year.

Watching that squeeze play from center field, I was
afraid the umpires were going to overturn it after it came out of Jason Varitek‘s
glove. Fortunately, ‘Tek had the tag before the ball popped out, but there’s no
way I can see that from where I am. It caught a lot of people off guard when
they squeezed, but that was just a huge out right there. That changed the whole
ninth inning for us.That’s what they wanted to do, try to catch us off guard.
But fortunately for us, it worked out.

We had a lot of guys on this team contribute all year for
us, and that’s a great feeling. This game was like our season — it didn’t come
easy, but we got it done. We’ve filled holes, we’ve had injuries, but guys have
just done a tremendous job to stay with it, to battle, and it’s nice to move on.It wasn’t easy getting to this point. The Angels, we knew
they weren’t going to give up. They won 100 games. And besides that, they just have too much pride. They were going to
come out and battle, and that’s what they did today.We’ve seen the Rays 18 times already this year, and we’re
excited to see them again in the ALCS. We’re excited to go down there and try
to get to the World Series.

Tampa
Bay had a tremendous year,
but we’re excited to go down there and take a shot at it.

Exhaustion and Excitement

ellsburydrew550x250.jpgThe best thing about an exhausting game like that is just to be able to come out on top. Emotions are running high. They come back and tie it up. J.D. Drew gets that huge home run to put us up in the top of the ninth and Kevin Youkilis makes a great catch to pull that foul ball out of the stands, and Pap finished it off.

It takes a lot out of you when you’re tied after having that 5-1 lead early. We knew coming into the series that it was going to be like this — that the games would be down to the last out. So even though they came back, it wasn’t surprising for us.

Even when we’re up early, our only objective is just to add to the lead. We knew 5-1 might not hold the way they execute and with the hitters they have in their lineup.

I thought Dice-K did what he had to do tonight — he got to Oki, who had a big inning and then Masterson came in and did a tremendous job. Our bullpen showed a lot of guts. The Angels kept coming and our guys did a tremendous job once again. They’ve been solid. A game like that, you have to rely on them, and it was nice to see them come through.

ellsburyswing275x375.jpgWhat can you say about J.D.? Just a great job. He made that great catch and hit the homer. If not for that, we still might not be playing right now. It’s nice to get on that plane up 2-0, but we still have a lot of work left.

When the Angels finally tied it and then we took the lead right back, it fired everyone on our team up and silenced their crowd. I’m sure it takes a little wind out of them. A playoff game like that, you get a one-out homer in the ninth of a tie game and of course we’re going to be fired up.

It’s definitely nice to have the 2-0 lead. We’ve done everything we could up to this point. But there’s still a little baseball left.

Now we get to Fenway, but it’s going to be a grind, just like these last two games.

We get Josh Beckett back for Game 3. We’ve put ourselves in good position. We need to come out just like we did in Game 1 and again tonight.

It’s a long flight home tonight, but it’s so much shorter after a win.

Catching A Game 1 Win in Anaheim

ellsburydiveonground550x250.jpgFirst of all, it was a big win for us as a team, and that’s what is most important. As for me, I had an eventful night at the plate, getting three hits and stealing a couple of bases. But what I’ll remember is the diving catch in center field.

Not that I knew it was going to end up being a catch.

We were holding that 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth, and Mark Teixeira breaks his bat and bloops one to shallow center.

Did I think I was going to catch it? To be honest, no. I came in running full speed, and I
kind of glanced down at shortstop Jed Lowrie, thinking maybe he had a shot at it, hoping he
had a shot at it. I just kind of kept my head down and went for it and felt
like I kind of kicked in a different gear midway through that.

You’re just hoping to get there. I’m kind of peeking at Lowrie
and making sure we don’t collide. It’s loud out there, it’s the playoffs. Even if someone calls
for it, you’re probably not going to hear him, so you just have to be aware of
where he’s at. It ended up being a big out.

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I really don’t get too fired up about diving catches, but I was
pretty fired up about that one. Late in the game like that, playoff time.
First out of the inning. You kind of want to kill a potential rally. I’ve made some nice catches this year, but this one was
definitely my favorite one of the year.

I was just hoping my arm could
reach out long enough. I didn’t know if I had enough reach in my glove, but I made
it. I looked at it for a second and I had it, so I just made sure to secure it.

Even though I had a good night, the biggest thing for me is we won. It would have been all for
nothing if we lost.

One reporter was asking me after the game what my speed was in track. I told him my split time in college one
time at Oregon State, running the 60. was 4-2. That’s not official. But put that in there. It
might have been 4-1, I don’t know. I love to run the bases though. It puts a little stress on the defense

This is a great time of year.  I try to have fun with it. Go out there, play hard,
leave it on the field. It sounds pretty simple. I try to make everything as
simple as possible.

We got a great start from Jon Lester tonight. Jason Bay had a
big home run and we got some insurance in the ninth. It was a great way to start the series.
 

We had a nice win tonight, now a day off tomorrow. It would be
nice to get both games here but it’s going to be a battle. They’re a great
ballclub.

Ready For The Big Stage Again

ellsbury550.jpgLast year at this time, I was a guy coming off the bench when the playoffs started, but for me, it’s not really all that different in the way I’m approaching it. I’m treating it the same as last year. Even at the start of this year, I didn’t know if I’d be playing every day.

So last year I just got prepared like I was going to start every game and I was ready to go off the bench. It’s the same situation preparing for it.

Of course, I did get to start for our final six games last October, and that gives me confidence this year, just that I had success at the ultimate stage, which is the World Series. As a Major League baseball player, there’s no better stage than that. I would say the biggest thing is confidence.

I come in on a good hitting streak from the end of the regular season, and I’ll continue to do what I’ve done. Don’t try to do anything more or less. I was putting in the same amount of time before I got on the streak, so I’ll just go out there and play, and play hard. At the same time, you don’t want to try to do too much just because it’s the playoffs.

Playing the Angels, they have great pitching. They’ve found different ways to score runs. They can do it with the long ball, they can do it playing fundamental baseball and moving runners over. That’s what makes them tough. They can play the little game or the power game. Sure, they took it to us really good in the regular season, but that’s the regular season. Those games don’t matter now.

I think we’ve been playing very well, much better than last time we played the Angels back in late July. It is the postseason. It’s different than the regular season. It’s win or go home now. We’re looking forward to the series. We have Jon Lester going in Game 1. We have a ton of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to it.

We’re a confident team. We know what we can do, we know what we’re capable of. There’s a lot of guys in here that have a lot of postseason experience. I think the biggest thing is not really changing anything. We’re ready to go every game and just go in with that same type of confidence.

This is the fun time of year. A lot of teams aren’t fortunate enough to be in this situation, making the playoffs. It’s a big deal to make the playoffs no matter whether you won the division or go in as the Wild Card. We want to be there until the end, but the first game is Wednesday, and right now, that’s the most important one.

Today, we got in our workout. I feel real relaxed right now. On Wednesday, I’ll just go to the yard ready to go, get a good night’s sleep and go out there fired up with the rest of the team.

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