J.D. Drew said he wasn't being antisocial when he missed the splash party that followed the Red Sox winning the American League East title Friday night. His wife, Sheigh, is eight months pregnant and his son, Jack David, is only a couple of weeks removed from the body cast he has had to wear. He didn't feel he had the luxury of sticking around.
For the Red Sox, his no-show at the celebration is inconsequential, now that it looks like he has shown up just in time to make some waves in the postseason.
Drew, one of a handful of Sox players who ducked out of the clubhouse Friday night before the Orioles came from behind to eliminate the Yankees from division contention and did not return, hit a three-run home run off Twins rookie call-up Nick Blackburn in a four-run seventh inning that lifted the Sox last night to a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins. Drew's home run enabled Tim Wakefield, who allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) in seven innings, to match his career high in wins with 17.
Drew also singled in the second and tripled and scored in the fourth, lifting his average to .270. Drew, who hit six home runs through his first 375 at-bats through Aug. 25, now has five home runs in 91 at-bats since. He is batting .393 (24 for 61) in his last 18 games, and after his eighth game this season with two or more extra-base hits, he has lifted his average to its highest point since May 4, when he was batting .276.
Drew, who has maintained a low-key demeanor during his prolonged slumps this season, was as relaxed and affable last night with reporters as he has been all season, flashing a sense of humor that has made only rare appearances in postgame settings.
When someone asked if he'd gone home and dumped a carton of chocolate milk on his son, Drew laughed and said, "I told the guys I walked out of here, took a couple of cans of Mountain Dew, shook them up, and sprayed them over me.
"I was extremely excited, my heart was completely in it, watching with everybody else in Red Sox Nation, I assume. I was sitting there with my wife. I popped champagne five different times, but my wife and I, we were laughing, I'd never gotten to hear what people say when they're getting champagne dumped on them. We really had a good time. Alex [Cora] in the pressbox, running the music. I really enjoyed watching it until they cut it off the air."
Yes, he said, he saw Jonathan Papelbon's postgame dance-a-thon.
"If I saw myself doing that dance on TV, I would have had a long talk with me," Drew said. "[Papelbon] was down there [in the bullpen] trying to get loosened up. He looked pretty loose last night. Tonight in the bullpen he looked really stiff."
Wakefield gave up bases-empty home runs to Rondell White in the third and Joe Mauer in the fourth, but did not walk a batter in putting an end to a slide in which he had gone 0-4 with a 10.70 ERA in his previous four starts. Things had gone south so much on Wakefield, he even lost last weekend in Tropicana Field, the Florida dome in which he had never lost.
"Very satisfying, considering the month that I've had," said Wakefield, now 17-12, who was picked up by Javy Lopez, who got three ground-ball outs in the eighth, and Hideki Okajima, who gave up a single to Mauer and a Wall-ball single by Torii Hunter that might have been a game-tying home run in other yards, before getting the call on a full-count pitch to Justin Morneau and starting a game-ending double play on Michael Cuddyer.
Okajima, asked if he'd experienced a celebration similar to what he returned to here Friday night after leaving early, said in Japan, victorious teams toss the manager in the air.
Did he think the Sox should do the same with Terry Francona?
"I think if we win the World Series," Okajima said through translator Jeff Yamaguchi.