March 26, 2005

ALCS 5: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14)

Tim McCarver started off the broadcast with a pretty good quip: "Boy, these split doubleheaders are great, aren't they?"

Mussina was eight outs away from a perfect game in Game 1, but the Red Sox got to him early this time. With one out, Cabrera singled to left, Ramirez singled to right center, Ortiz singled to right (1-0), Millar walked, Nixon reached on a force at home, and Varitek walked to force in a run (2-0). ... After that inning – 34 pitches – Mussina pitched very well. Over the next five innings, he allowed only two hits (no walks) and no runs.

Pedro struck out Jeter and Sheffield in the first inning, both on three pitches, but he was intermittently sharp. Bernie Williams nailed his first pitch of the second into the right field seats for a home run. (If Joe Buck refers to Bernie Williams as the New York lineup's "forgotten man" every time he comes to the plate, how overlooked can he be?) Martinez allowed a walk and a hit with two outs in the third, a single and a walk to start the fourth, and a leadoff walk in the fifth – yet still kept the score at 2-1.

In the sixth, his luck ran out. With one out, Posada and Sierra singled. After Clark struck out, Pedro hit Cairo to load the bases. As Buck and McCarver pointed out how Pedro loses effectiveness after 100 pitches (he started the inning at 82), Jeter sliced a bases-clearing double down the right field line – on Pedro's 100th pitch. The Yankees took a 4-2 lead.

After a visit from Dave Wallace, Martinez hit Rodriguez (Myers and Timlin were up in the pen) and walked Sheffield. He got the third out thanks to Nixon's tumbling catch of Matsui's sinking liner to right.

Boston had four innings to score two runs. They went in order in the sixth. Bellhorn doubled to start the seventh (and chase Mussina) but Sturtze retired Damon and, after he walked Cabrera, Gordon came in and got Manny to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

At the start of the eighth inning, Rivera was up in the New York pen. Ortiz hit an 0-1 Gordon offering into the Monster seats and Boston now trailed 4-3. Millar swung wildly at the first two pitches, then took the next four for another crucial walk. And there was Dave Roberts running at first base again. Nixon stepped in and there was an exceptional game of cat-and-mouse between Roberts and Gordon (who had now appeared in all five games of the series):
Gordon looks over, throws pitch (88), called strike, 0-1
Rivera ready, watching from bullpen
Roberts twitching off first Gordon looks over, steps off
Gordon throws over, an easy throw, Roberts dusts off
Gordon holds the ball, and holds it, and holds it, finally Roberts walks back to the bag
Crowd chanting "Gor-don! Gor-don!"
Gordon fakes a throw, Roberts gets back
Gordon throws over to first
Pitch (85) low/inside at knees, called 1-1
Pitch (91) low in dirt in front of plate, 2-1
Pitch (91) in dirt, 3-1
A-Rod to mound to talk
Roberts off with pitch, lined into right field, Roberts to third
After that, Rivera came in and Varitek lofted a fly ball to center. Roberts scored easily, the game was tied at 4-4, and Rivera had blown another save. It was the first time in Yankee history that the team had blown saves in consecutive post-season games.

In the Yankees 9th, the camera caught Schilling rushing to the dugout phone. The next time they showed him, he was sitting on the bench, holding his glove. ... McCarver: "What's he doing with his glove?" Buck: "Interesting question." ... There was a lot of activity in the dugout, Schilling then disappeared down the runway.

During the mid-inning break, Schilling, Lowe and Wakefield had walked from the dugout to the bullpen. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I don't think anything could have said "We will pitch anyone tonight" more than that defiant display.

Boston 9th against Rivera: Damon beat out a single to Cairo's right, but he was then thrown out trying to steal second, although a replay showed him being tagged by Jeter's left wrist instead of his glove. Cabrera grounded out to short and Ramirez flew to center.

The Red Sox had chances to win it in the tenth (Millar doubled over Sheffield's head with one out, but Quantrill got Nixon and Varitek) and eleventh (Mueller and Bellhorn singled with no out, but Damon popped out and (facing Loazia) Cabrera hit into a 6-4-3 DP. In the twelfth, Ortiz walked with one out and tried to steal second base. He may have been safe – some replays seem to show his hand in there – but he was called out.

The Yankees' best chance to score came in the thirteenth. Sheffield struck out against Wakefield, but reached on a passed ball. Matsui forced him at second and Williams flew out to Nixon for the second out. Wakefield's first pitch to Posada rolled away from Varitek (who had caught Wakefield for only two innings during the regular season). After a called strike, another passed ball put Matsui at second. Posada was walked intentionally. Facing Sierra, Varitek was charged with his third passed ball and the runners advanced to second and third. The next pitch was a knuckleball – Wakefield refused to not throw it - that squirted out of Varitek's glove, but it did not go far. Sierra struck out on the next pitch.

In the bottom of the fourteenth, Bellhorn struck out, Damon walked, Cabrera struck out and Ramirez walked. Ortiz then faced Loazia:
Fastball (91 mph), cutting away and down, 0-1
Way outside (90), 1-1
Big rip (88), fouled 3b side, 1-2
Fouled off (90), 3b side, 1-2
Clubbed deep to right, hooked foul, 1-2
Outside (90), 2-2
Pitch up (92), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
Pitch up (92), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
Pitch up (89), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
10th pitch (87) lined to center, single, Damon scores, Sox win 5-4
Buck on Damon: "…and he can keep on running to New York."
At this point, I was pretty confident the Red Sox would win the pennant.

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