October 16, 2003

It Is On! There is no man on Earth I want pitching this Game 7 more than Pedro Martinez. Throughout his career, he has used the doubts others have had in his abilities (too small to be a starting pitcher, too fragile to have a sustained career as a power pitcher, etc.) as motivation every time he takes the mound. In Boston, he has used the occasional booing at Fenway Park to the barbs of local sportswriters as fuel. And while Martinez shouldn't need any added incentive to prepare himself for tonight's start, last Saturday's events have made him Public Enemy No. 1 in New York City. This will not faze him; under pressure in Cleveland in 1999, he threw 6 no-hit innings of relief to clinch the ALDS). Martinez is pitching on his normal rest and with the bullpen in top shape, he knows he can pitch all-out for 7 innings and turn it over to the reliable trio of Timlin/Embree/Williamson. He knows the legacy of the Boston Red Sox, he knows what this rivalry means, and he burns for a chance at a World Series ring. Pedro knows this is the biggest start of his career. I expect it to be masterful.

Roger Clemens (aka the Texas Con Man, Fat Judas, Quisling, Fat Billy from Ohio, etc.) is pitching what could be the final start of his legendary career. In storybook fashion, it will come against the team with whom he built his Hall of Fame reputation, with whom he burnt his bridges seven years ago, the team whose fans hate him with an unbridled passion. The stakes could not be higher. Clemens was praised in the national media for holding his composure in Game 3. That was billed as a Big Game (and it was), but it is small potatoes to Game 7. This is a BIG GAME. Clemens may have considered himself rid of the Boston Red Sox forever, but now he has to battle them again, and the Red Sox have the momentum of yesterday's Game 6 victory at their backs.

Will Clemens be remembered as the guy who lost Game 7 of the ALCS to Pedro the Punk? Will he be remembered as the man unable to stop the Red Sox from romping through the Yankees' backyard on their way to the World Series? With George Steinbrenner watching, Clemens's Yankees legacy is on the line. The Red Sox batters must make Clemens work; he'll be wired and will expend precious energy harnessing those emotions (some type of "I thought it was the ball!" meltdown is not out of the question). A patient, sustained Boston attack, much like the offense showed yesterday, can chase Clemens early and make Rivera irrelevant.

Throughout their recent run of success, the Yankees have not lost a playoff series at home. That could change tonight. The Boston Red Sox can win their first pennant since 1986, they can do it in front of 55,000 Yankee fans and they can do it in the game that ends Roger Clemens's career. This is perhaps the most important game ever played between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. ... Today is also my 40th birthday. Go Sox!
Clemens v Boston    IP    H   ER   R  BB   K   BF   PIT
0521 NY 4 @Bos 2    6     9    2   2   1   7   27   100
0526 Bos 8 @NY 4    5.2  10    8   8   2   9   29   133
0705 Bos 10 @NY 2   5.1   6    8   7   2   3   26    95
0831 NY 8 @Bos 4    6.2   6    4   4   2   3   27   112
0906 Bos 12, @NY 0  3.1   7    7   5   2   2   19    77
1011 @NY 4, Bos 3   6     5    2   2   1   7   22    96
Totals             33    43   31  28  10  31  150   613   7.64 ERA
Pedro v New York    IP    H   ER   R  BB   K   BF   PIT
0707 @NY 2, Bos 1    7    5    1   1   0  11   27   115   
0725 NY 4, @Bos 3    6.2  7    3   3   4  10   31   128
0830 NY 10, @Bos 7   4    9    5   5   0   3   22    87
0905 Bos 9, @NY 3    6    4    1   1   1   9   23    94
1011 @NY 4, Bos 3    7    6    4   4   1   6   28    98
Totals              30.2 31   14  14   6  39  131   522  4.11 ERA

Ed Cossette: "[F]or once you can honestly say that no matter how much tonight's game is hyped it just cannot be over hyped. Every cliche, every breathless news report, every drop of ink, every pixel pointing to Game 7 tonight in NY is deserved. ... I'm so excited I can barely think, let alone write."

Larry Mahnken: "It's been several hours since Game 6 ended, and I still have no heart to write about it. It feels as though the Yankees have lost their chance, that they've already lost the series. I felt this way going into Game Four last season, Game Five in 1995 and 1997. Defeat seems an almost forgone conclusion. ... The only chance for the Yankees is Clemens, pitching to save his career. ... If someone other than Clemens or Rivera is pitching tonight, the game is probably lost for New York. ... With the Florida Marlins waiting to be crushed, this game will likely determine who wins the World Series."

Alex Belth: "Pedro vs. Clemens. This is what everybody wants, right? Well, we've got it. ... Martinez pitches better when he's got a chip on his shoulder and with Yankee Stadium giving him the business tonight, I fear he'll use it to his advantage, no matter how much he's got left in the tank. ... It could be the biggest win of the year for the Yankees, or one of the biggest wins in Boston history for the Red Sox. I'll be hiding behind the couch with two hands over my eyes."

Tim Daloisio: "Tonight will answer the age old question, if you had one pitcher in all of baseball to pitch one game with everything on the line, who would you want on the mound? For the Red Sox that answer is Pedro Martinez, and he's going tonight with a trip to the World Series on the line."

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