THE CURSE OF THE
BAMBINO, PART 11 ...
IT'S TIME TO "COWBOY UP"
ALCS, GAME #1
Tim Wakefield and the bullpen
keep the Yanks in check
October 8, 2003
The Sox pioneered a new trail, by winning the opening game and
stunning the Yankees, 5-2, to seize Game 1 of the American League
Championship Series before 56,281 in the Bronx. In Tim Wakefield's
finest hour since he twice outdueled Atlanta's Tom Glavine with
complete-game gems for the Pirates in the National League
Championship Series in his rookie season in 1992, the knuckleballer
blanked the Yankees on two hits through six innings and rode a home
run barrage by David Ortiz, Todd Walker, and Manny Ramirez to the
highly unusual victory.
reached the threshold of postseason glory by losing openers as routinely as they
rolled out of bed. Game 1 of spring training? Opening Day? The first game of the
season against the Yankees? The first game after the All-Star break? The first
two games of the AL Division Series against the A's? They lost them all.
All the Sox
need is three more of these weird wins to cakewalk into the World Series. Not
bad, considering they are trying to become only the second AL wild-card team to
reach the Big Show. The Angels became the first last year, and, well, everyone
knows their championship story.
starter Mike Mussina was not quite as bad, though he turned in his
third-shortest outing in 13 postseason starts, surrendering four of the five Sox
runs, all on homers. Ortiz even snapped a career 0-for-20 funk against Mussina
with his two-run blast.
bedeviled the pin-stripers as he retired 18 of the first 20 batters he faced,
surrendering only consecutive singles to Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui in the
second. His run ended when he lost the touch on his knuckleball just long enough
to walk Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams leading off the seventh, prompting
manager Grady Little to lift him for Alan Embree. Both Giambi and Williams
scored as Embree surrendered a double to Posada and a sacrifice fly to Matsui to
account for New York's runs. After Embree finished the seventh, Mike Timlin
pitched a perfect eighth and Scott Williamson twirled a perfect ninth for the
save. Rarely have 56,281 gathered in the Bronx in such a hush, as the Sox
bullpen closed out the Yankees. Suddenly, Boston's bullpen has become a boon.
broke through in the fourth when Mussina, a multiple Gold Glove winner, just
missed snagging a grounder by Ramirez to the right side of the mound. The ball
deflected off Mussina's glove toward second base, allowing Ramirez to leg out a
leadoff single. That cleared the way for Ortiz, who fell behind in the count,
0-2, before he stood his ground, forcing the count to 3-2, then blasting a
thigh-high 90-mile-per-hour offering into the top deck in right field to stake
the Sox to a 2-0 lead.
the Sox exploited a couple more mistakes by Mussina in the fifth. Walker struck
first, lofting a 2-0 pitch to the foul pole at the top deck in right. Just as
the ball reached the pole, a fan reached out and may have compromised
right-field umpire Angel Hernandez's view, prompting him to rule it a foul ball.
At that, Walker stalled his home run trot between first and second. But
Hernandez quickly was overruled by plate ump Tim McClelland, who concluded the
ball struck the pole, and Walker continued his trot, putting the Sox up, 3-0.
The homer was Walker's fourth of the postseason, tying a Sox record set by
Nomar Garciaparra in the 1999 playoffs.
Mussina left a 1-1 pitch in Ramirez's wheelhouse, and the ball sailed just over
the right-field fence to boost Boston's lead to 4-0. The Sox struck again in the
seventh when Jeff Nelson surrendered a single to Ramirez, hit Ortiz on the foot
with a pitch, and allowed a run-scoring single to Millar, sticking
Steinbrenner's crew in a 5-0 hole, and the Sox in an uncharacteristic position
of Game #1 supremacy.