Monster mash: Crisp's HR burns former team

Naquin's first postseason hit also clutch in Game 3 victory

Monster mash: Crisp's HR burns former team

BOSTON -- Coco Crisp made his Major League debut with the Indians in 2002. He was a spark plug for the '05 team that won 93 games and missed the postseason before being traded.

Crisp had his share of playoff heroics after that, just not in Cleveland. He won a World Series in Boston in '07 and homered off Justin Verlander for Oakland in the American League Division Series in '12.

Finally, just a few weeks short of his 37th birthday, he had a chance to do something big in October for the team that brought him up. And as he celebrated the Indians' 4-3 victory over the Red Sox and an ALDS sweep in a champagne-soaked clubhouse at Fenway Park, Crisp could savor his two-run homer as the eventual difference in Monday night's game.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CLE 5, BOS 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 CLE 6, BOS 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 CLE 4, BOS 3 video

"Sure, it's a little storybook," Crisp said.

All four of Cleveland's runs came from the bottom half of its order, fueled in some part by Crisp. With a scoreless game in the fourth, Jose Ramirez hit a leadoff single and Lonnie Chisenhall worked a walk after fouling off a pair of full-count pitches. Crisp laid down a well-placed bunt to move them along for Tyler Naquin.

Naquin, who missed on 34 percent of his swings against fastballs in the regular season according to STATS, whiffed on a first-pitch curve from Buchholz but connected on the second, sending a ground ball through the right side.

"My job's to at least push one run across," Naquin said. "I just made sure I got a pitch I could do something with. I tried to lift a curveball up in the air for the first one, and then I got another one and was able to do something with it, and pushed two across."

It was the first hit of the series for the rookie. Naquin struck out in each of his first three at-bats, including a called third strike with a runner on first in the second inning on Monday.

Naquin's two-run single

"That was a big hit, a big feeling, a big moment," he said. "It was just unbelievable. That doesn't happen if you don't have those teammates."

Crisp's opportunity for a big swing came two innings later, moments after Boston halved Cleveland's lead with an Andrew Benintendi double off the left-field wall and over Crisp's head. Crisp more than made up for it by clearing the same Green Monster.

Again, the rally began with Ramirez reaching base to lead off the inning, this time off lefty Drew Pomeranz. Chisenhall sacrificed him to second, then Pomeranz hung a 1-2 breaking ball to Crisp, who pounced.

"I didn't actually see it," Crisp said. "No lie, I hit it and I was like, 'OK, I got it. That's a homer.' And then I was like, 'Wait a second, I hit it and that's the Monster out there. It's not really a pull homer.' Then I started running and I had my head down.

Crisp on two-run homer, win

"I touched the base and looked at the second-base umpire and he started twirling his finger, and that's when I got pumped up. So I didn't actually see it clear, but I'm going to look back at the film so I can see it clear."

Crisp will see the ball land in the seats atop the wall, punctuating his first postseason homer since his solo shot off Verlander in the 2012 ALDS.

It also punctuates a happy reunion. The Indians acquired Crisp in a trade with the A's on Aug. 31, the last day players could change teams and still be eligible for postseason play. Crisp, who spent three seasons in Boston from 2006-08, helped fill the Indians' outfield void with Abraham Almonte ineligible for the playoffs.

"When we didn't have Abe, that was a big hole," manager Terry Francona said. "And Coco has the experience and he showed it tonight. He gets down in the count and gets a breaking ball he can handle and hits it out. At the time, those were huge runs, because we had to make them hold up."

Crisp left for a defensive replacement in the eighth, but it didn't ruin the ending to the story.

"I started my career off with the Cleveland Indians in the big leagues," he said. "We had phenomenal teams back then. To come back here -- and Oakland gave me an opportunity to come back here -- was huge for me. As soon as I walked in here, these guys treated me like family and it was easy to come in here because it was familiar. I had been here before and I played for Tito and played with some of these guys.

"Storybook? I would say, so far, it is."

Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.