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The centerfielder provides a spark as the leadoff hitter after stepping in for Jacoby Ellsbury.
Published Oct. 22, 2008

Coco Crisp sat shirtless at his locker early Friday. He had lingered to answer every question from every media outlet that cared to get his feelings about his tying single in the eighth inning of the Red Sox's 8-7 comeback win Thursday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

With the arrival of a camera crew, he stopped to snag a red shirt and pull it over his torso, covering the spotted predator tattoo that slinks from his back over his shoulder.

"Don't wanna let my sexy out," he said, seriously.

Crisp's sexy has been fully contained, but his contributions to the Red Sox's efforts to defend as world champions are suddenly bursting out all over.

Inserted into the lineup in Game 4 with centerfielder and leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury hitless in his first 14 at-bats in the ALCS and not reaching base, Crisp had batted .417 and reached base 53 percent of the time through Game 5.

Crisp had been productive before what manager Terry Francona called the best at-bat of his Boston career, but his Game 5 battle with Rays reliever Dan Wheeler was epic as he fouled off three 3-and-2 pitches before ripping the tenth offering of the at-bat to right to score Mark Kotsay from second base.

"It was my last at-bat, so far, and it was successful, so I will take it as that," Crisp said. "I don't know if it was my best at-bat.

"I guess I've never been in that circumstance. Baseball is a game where nothing happens twice, it seems like. So this is the first time I've had that at-bat in this situation. I guess this is the best at-bat I've had in that situation."

Francona said he tried all year not to let Crisp or Ellsbury stew. Ellsbury batted .280 in 145 games; Crisp hit .283 in 118 games.

"Both of them wanted to play every day. That wasn't possible," Francona said. "But we didn't ever sit one of them too long, and we tried to keep them both sharp, and they have both helped us win a lot of ball games, none more than the other night."

Crisp's resurgence demonstrates the cyclical nature of baseball - he lost his job last postseason when Ellsbury batted .438 and took the job in the World Series.

If there was redemption in the Game 5 moment, however, Crisp wasn't acknowledging it.

"I don't know about the word redemption," he said. "It definitely feels good to be part of a huge win like this. Hopefully I can contribute in the future."