After all that fuss, Francona makes right moves for Boston Print
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Sunday, 28 October 2007 01:49
MLB Headline News

 DENVER (AP) -New leadoff batter Jacoby Ellsbury was on second base all night.
David Ortiz played flawless defense and drove in the first run.
Mike Lowell hit a two-run single in Boston's big inning.
After all that fuss about his Game 3 lineup, Red Sox manager Terry Francona definitely made the right moves. Now, his team is one win from its second World Series sweep in four seasons.
Thanks to an offensive charge led by Ellsbury, Ortiz and Lowell, Boston beat Colorado 10-5 on Saturday night to build a 3-0 cushion against the sagging Rockies.
``I was just trying to be a little more aggressive,'' Ellsbury said. ``My approach was just to try to hit the ball the other way.''
The spacious gaps and thin air at mile-high Coors Field? Easy terrain for the Red Sox.
National League rules, no designated hitter allowed? Big deal.
Kevin Youkilis' dangerous bat forced to the bench? Never an issue.
Everything Francona and the Red Sox try this postseason seems to work, especially against Colorado.
``I guess if you can hit, you can hit in any part of the lineup,'' Boston's Coco Crisp said.
Youkilis normally bats second, so Dustin Pedroia was dropped to the No. 2 slot and Ellsbury was bumped up from No. 9 to leadoff. The speedy rookie responded, going 4-for-5 with three doubles, including two in a six-run third.
That made him the second player in World Series history to hit two doubles in one inning. Arizona's Matt Williams also accomplished the feat in 2001, during Game 6 against the New York Yankees.
``He plays with a lot of confidence, and there's a reason. He's a good player and he's aware of the situations around him. He prepares,'' Francona said. ``So it's not just false bravado or acting like he's confident. He should be confident. He's a good player and he knows how to play the game.''
Ellsbury scored twice and added two RBIs. Not bad for a 24-year-old kid who entered the playoffs with only 116 major league at-bats.
``To start the year I was in Double-A and I was just trying to get to Triple-A,'' Ellsbury said.
He also made a nice catch at the center-field fence on a long drive by pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs that could have pulled Colorado within one in the sixth.
``I was getting ready to climb the wall if necessary,'' Ellsbury said. ``I'm happy I didn't have to do that.''
With no DH available, Francona put Ortiz at first base even though the slugger has been hobbled by a sore knee. True, he played only seven games at first all season and 27 over the past three years.
Still, there was no way Francona could take Big Papi's thunderous bat out of the lineup. He's one of the best clutch hitters in recent memory.
``When you've got Ortiz playing in front of you, you take a backseat,'' Youkilis said.
Ortiz looked fine over at first, even making a smooth play on Matt Holliday's sharp grounder in the fourth.
``Smooth as silk. Smooth like his silky hair,'' Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said.
Once Boston reached the bottom of the sixth with a 6-0 lead, in came Youkilis and his reliable glove.
To keep him in the lineup, Youkilis could have been shifted from first base to third, but that would have put the steady and productive Lowell on the bench.
Lowell stayed at third and, of course, finished with two hits and a stolen base.
It was a good night all around for the Red Sox. Especially their manager and his deft touch.
 

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