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October 21, 2007

Terry Francona


Q. Can you just go over the thinking with the bullpen, leaving Okajima in for two, and then Beckett got up and got down? What was the whole process?
TERRY FRANCONA: We had Beckett up earlier. Once Oki came into the game -- we had Timlin and Beckett up early. We didn't want to just get Beckett up. Once we got to a point where we knew we were going to go to Pap, we didn't want to just have Beckett up for one or two hitters. There was talk before the game about not creating a spot for him, but if we needed him, we would go to him. Oki was throwing the ball very well, and we knew we'd go to Pap in the seventh, and then if it was a long seventh and eighth, we maybe would close with Beckett. So that was the thinking there.

Q. Could you talk about Matsuzaka's game and why you went to the bullpen when you did?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I thought he pitched his heart out. They were some tough innings, and with who was coming up, Hafner, Victor, I thought he gave us what he needed to. Rather than let one swing of the bat alter the game, we go to a fresh Okajima.
Again, sometimes you try to go too far. Having Oki come in with a nice clean inning we thought was the appropriate thing to do.

Q. Your team is 14-3 in your last 17 elimination games. What does that say about the character of your club when the game is really on the line?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I think part of that is when I was in Oakland, I was part of the wrong side, and I was the baserunning instructor, so that really helped to that 14-3.
I don't know. I do think that games of a huge magnitude, our guys don't get overwhelmed. It doesn't assure that you're going to win, but it is a good feeling. You look out there and you see Jason Varitek behind the plate, guys like Beckett, Schilling, they do what they're supposed to do. Again, you think you have the talent, it'll show through.

Q. Can you talk about Pedroia and Youkilis today.
TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, Pedey really -- at a time when it was 3-2 because Westbrook got so locked in after -- we kept going one, one, one, and he really got locked in. I mean, that final score isn't indicative of the way that game was played, and Pedey gave us that two-run cushion, and then things got away a little bit, but those were huge runs at the time.

Q. It seemed only a few days ago we were talking about what was wrong with Pedroia or why he was in a funk, but his game tonight, what does that show about him specifically, his ability to rise in a big game?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, when you say "we," I would say you guys. I think we all thought he would be just fine. And again, sometimes when you don't get hits, don't think you run away from the guys that got you there, and they're good players.
He's a winning player. But it is very exciting to see what he did.

Q. Kind of along those lines, there was a stretch in the middle of the series where you weren't getting hits in parts of the lineup, and then the last three games you've got a lot of runs, a lot of hits throughout this team. Can you just talk about the switch, I guess, of that going on.
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, even tonight, though, early on we really didn't. We created a lot of opportunities early, but we couldn't put more than one up. Like I said, Westbrook got so comfortable that it looked like maybe we would have to make a stand. Kenny doesn't score on the ball down the line, has a chance to be 3-3. Oki makes a great pitch on Blake, gets a double play, and then again, it gave us time to start tacking on. You get into the bullpen and things start going wrong. You have to walk people and it can get away. It happened to us earlier here in the series.

Q. The last ten games have almost been a microcosm of the season for Dustin, starting off slow before making the adjustments. Talk about how you saw him making those adjustments.
TERRY FRANCONA: I agree with that, it was just like the season. And that's why we don't run away from guys like that. He's a winning player. Again, that doesn't assure that you're always going to get hits, but he still knows how to play the game, and his hits were welcome and they were clutch. But again, you play the guys that you think -- they're your guys, and either you're good enough or you're not.

Q. Can you talk about the ball Youkilis crushed tonight and just how he's played through the playoffs.
TERRY FRANCONA: His bat has really come alive. I think as his body feels better, got a little bit of rest, his bat is quick. He just doesn't always hit singles. If you make a mistake, he can drive the ball out of the ballpark. His defense has been spectacular all year, and you put that bat in front of David and Manny, it gets interesting.

Q. How difficult is that ball that Kenny held at third on? How difficult is that whole area there with the stands jutting out and the ball is going down the line to judge that?
TERRY FRANCONA: Very difficult because as a third base coach we talk about that all the time. There's a blind spot and you almost have to try to run out on the field. Again, some of that is home-field advantage, we're here a lot. That's very difficult for a third base coach.

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