RAMON HERNANDEZ

THE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO, PART 11 ...
IT'S TIME TO "COWBOY UP"

 2003 ALDS, GAME #1
The Red Sox lose it on a
12th inning squeeze play

October 1, 2003 ... The bullpen has been the Red Sox' Achilles' heel all season, and it was no different in Game 1 of the best-of-five Division Series against the Oakland A's. The A's, trailing, 4-3, with two outs in the ninth, got an RBI single from Erubiel Durazo off Alan Embree (in relief of closer Byung Hyun Kim) to tie the game and send it into extra innings before 50,606 at Network Associates Coliseum. Heartbreak would soon follow. Scott Williamson and Derek Lowe followed Embree before Ramon Hernandez put down a perfect squeeze bunt in the bottom of the 12th to give the A's a 5-4 victory at 2:47 a.m. Eastern time.

The A's squandered a prime opportunity in the 10th. After Scott Hatteberg reached on a walk, he attempted to steal second. But Terrence Long, who struck out, was called for catcher's interference, ending the inning in a bizarre double play.

The Sox had a chance to score in the 12th, but Eric Chavez saved the game. With runners on first and second and two outs, he stabbed Gabe Kapler's shot down the line and beat a sliding Manny Ramirez to the bag to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 12th, the A's had another chance. Lowe walked Durazo to start the inning. Chavez grounded to second but beat the throw to first to avoid a double play. Chavez moved to second on a grounder by Miguel Tejada. Walks to Hatteberg and Long (intentional) loaded the bases. Hernandez then laid down a perfect bunt to score Chavez and leave the Sox in despair.

TODD WALKER

Prior to the meltdown, Todd Walker, in his maiden appearance in the postseason, had provided the pop for the Red Sox, knocking in three runs with a pair of homers, including a two-run shot off lefthander Ricardo Rincon in the eighth inning to erase a 3-2 deficit. Pedro Martinez, uncoiling a season-high 130 pitches, had harnessed the A's through seven innings.

Jason Varitek made a major difference by socking a solo homer, reaching base in all four plate appearances, and helping to guide Martinez through a maze of potential mayhem on the mound. With Varitek catching, the Sox ace spotted the A's only the three runs by scattering six hits and four walks over seven innings.

The A's ended Martinez's 19-inning postseason scoreless streak dating to his sensational run in the '99 playoffs when they struck for three runs in the third inning. But even amid Oakland's dogged attempt to knock him out by driving up his pitch count, Martinez had persevered. His crucial moment came after he lost an 11-pitch battle and walked Durazo to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. With the 4-3 lead in peril, Martinez needed only one pitch to induce Oakland's home run leader, Chavez, to pop out to end the threat. But Oakland would strike again.

Walker wasted no time making Sox manager Grady Little look shrewd for batting him third in the lineup when he whipsawed a 91-mile-an-hour heater from Hudson over the "BAR NONE" sign near the right- field corner in his first postseason plate appearance. After batting Walker second and Nomar Garciaparra third nearly all season, Little flip-flopped them to open the series, and Walker's first-inning shot staked Martinez to a 1-0 lead.

The Sox, thanks to Kevin Millar, created a faint chance to cause some more trouble in the second, all for naught. After Millar dived into first base to beat out a grounder deep in the hole to short, he gambled trying to advance on a pitch that bounced away from catcher Hernandez and easily was gunned down. No great loss, it seemed, since Martinez appeared sharp early. The A's mustered only a harmless single to center by Jose Guillen in the second inning off the Sox ace before a couple of game-shaping developments unfolded in the third inning.

First, the Sox loaded the bases as Varitek, Johnny Damon, and Walker wrapped singles off Hudson around a fielder's choice by Garciaparra. Up came Ramirez, who for the first time in his career this season went hitless (0 for 8) with the bases loaded. This was Ramirez's chance to end the futility, to help get Martinez into a greater comfort zone. But the slugger faltered, bouncing out to second base to kill the threat.

JASON VARITEK

At that, the A's seized some momentum in the bottom of the third. With one out, Chris Singleton lashed a grounder into the right- field corner for a double. Martinez then suffered one of his worst spasms of wildness of the season, uncorking seven straight balls as he walked Mark Ellis and fell behind Durazo, 3-1, before Durazo whistled a double to right-center, knocking in Singleton and Ellis to put the Sox in a 2-1 hole. A batter later, Miguel Tejada singled home Durazo, making it 3-1. The A's, in addition to striking for three runs, forced Martinez to throw 22 pitches in the inning after he had thrown only 26 pitches over the first two frames. Oakland was setting the pace rather than Martinez, to the A's advantage, at least for the moment.

But Varitek provided the Sox some relief with one out in the fifth inning when he pounced on a changeup from Hudson and pounded it nearly to the spot Walker struck with his homer, whittling the score to 3-2 with the solo shot. The homer was the third of Varitek's postseason career, his first since the 1999 AL Championship Series.

Little's flip-flopping nearly paid additional dividends moments later when Garciaparra and Walker delivered consecutive singles off Hudson, putting runners at the corners with two outs for Ramirez. A .338 hitter with runners in scoring position during the regular season, tops among Sox regulars, Ramirez was poised again to make a difference. But, again, he fell short, ending the inning by grounding into a fielder's choice to short.

Once again, the A's responded to Ramirez's woes by taking a run at Martinez. This time, the Sox ace abetted the threat by letting Ellis flare a one-out single to right and scamper to third on an attempted pickoff throw to first that bounded deep into foul territory. The error was uncharacteristic for Martinez, who had not committed one all season. But it proved inconsequential as Martinez promptly erased Ellis at the plate on a comebacker by Durazo before he got Chavez to fly out to end the sixth. That cleared the way for Walker to work some more magic in the seventh.

Hampered enough that the Red Sox opted to carry an extra outfielder, Trot Nixon last night began the American League Division Series as the right fielder, his first start in nine days. Nixon faced Oakland ace Tim Hudson after going only 2 for 12 since he was forced out of a game in Baltimore Sept. 9 with a strained left calf. Red Sox Nation made its presence felt at Network Associates Coliseum throughout the first game. When the gates opened two hours before gametime, a contingent of New Englanders gathered behind the Sox dugout. Many held signs of support. Spotting Boston's 29 year-old GM standing in front of the dugout.

 

 



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2003 A.L. DIVISIONAL SERIES

 

 

Boston Red Sox

0 Games

 

 

Oakland Athletics

1 Game

 

 

 

 
 


2003 American League Divisional Series, Game 1
 

 
 

 

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12

 

R

H

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BOSTON RED SOX

1

0

0

0

1

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

 

4

12

2

 
 

OAKLAND A's

0

0

3

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

 

5

8

0

 

 

W-Rich Harden (1-0)
L-Derek Lowe (0-1)
Attendance 50,606

2B-Mueller (Bost), Singleton (Oak), Durazo (Oak)
HR-Walker (2)(Bost), Varitek (Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED SOX

 

AB

R

H

 

 

Johnny Damon cf 5 0 1  

 

Nomar Garciaparra ss 5 1 2  

 

Todd Walker 2b 5 2 4  

 

Damian Jackson 2b 1 0 0  

 

Manny Ramirez lf 5 0 0  

 

David Ortiz dh 5 0 0  

 

Kevin Millar 1b 6 0 2  

 

Bill Mueller 3b 5 0 1  

 

Trot Nixon rf 3 0 0  

 

Dave McCarty ph 0 0 0  

 

Adrian Brown ph/rf 1 0 0  

 

Gabe Kapler ph/rf 2 0 0  

 

Jason Varitek c 3 0 0  
             
    IP H ER SO  
  Pedro Martinez 7 6 3 3  
  Mike Timlin 1 0 0 2  
  Byung-Hyun Kim 0.2 0 1 1  
  Alan Embree 0.1 1 0 0  
  Scott Williamson 1 0 0 2  
  Derek Lowe 1.2 1 1 2  

 

         

 

             

 

ATHLETICS

 

AB

R

H

 

 

Mark Ellis 2b 4 1 1  

 

Erubiel Durazo dh 4 1 2  

 

Eric Chavez 3b 6 1 0  

 

Miguel Tejada ss 6 0 1  

 

Scott Hatteberg 1b 4 0 0  

 

Jose Guillen lf 3 0 1  

 

Terrence Long ph/lf 2 0 0  

 

Ramon Hernandez c 4 0 2  

 

Jermaine Dye rf 3 0 0  

 

Billy McMillon ph 0 0 0  

 

Eric Byrnes pr/rf 1 1 0  

 

Chris Singleton cf 4 1 1  
             
    IP H ER SO  
  Tim Hudson 6.2 13 3 5  

 

Ricardo Rincon 0.2 2 1 1  
  Chad Bradford 0.2 0 0 1  
  Keith Foulke 3 0 0 3  
  Rich Harden 1 0 0 1