THE CURSE OF THE
BAMBINO, PART 11 ...
IT'S TIME TO "COWBOY UP"
ALCS, GAME #4
Tim Wakefield holds down the Yankees
October 13, 2003
There was no letup in tension between the Red Sox and Yankees in Game
4 of the American League Championship Series, merely an absence of
the histrionics over the weekend that had created an embarrassing
hiccup in this storied rivalry. And as Sox knuckleballer Tim
Wakefield demonstrated again, there is a way to throw a purpose pitch
other than planting it in the back of an opposing hitter.
The Game 4
tone was set by former Sox batterymates Luis Tiant and Carlton Fisk, golden boys
from the golden days who collaborated on the ceremonial first pitch. Wearing his
No. 23 jersey, Luis went into his corkscrew windup and fired a strike to his
Hall of Fame catcher, the pride of the Granite State. In that moment, all was
right in Red Sox Nation. It was 1975 again.
With the Sox
in desperation mode as they attempted to keep the Yankees from moving within a
game of winning their 39th AL pennant and fifth in seven seasons, Wakefield's
soft tosses had the Yankees unhinged at the plate, while the Red Sox maintained
an emotional equilibrium light-years removed from Saturday's Game 3 hoo-hah.
baseman Todd Walker got things going in the fourth inning, lofting a 2-and-2
Mussina pitch into the seats in right. It was Walker's fifth homer of the
postseason. Trot Nixon (3 for 3) broke a 1-1 tie and put the Sox ahead for good
with one of his patented parabolic shots into the center-field bleachers in the
Soriano's failure to make what would have been an inning-ending double-play
relay with the same amount of urgency that Jason Varitek ran down the line to
beat the second baseman's throw allowed Kevin Millar to score what proved to be
the deciding run in the seventh, when the Sox took a 3-1 lead. Varitek didn't
start for two reasons: Doug Mirabelli is Wakefield's regular catcher, and
because he was 2 for 36 lifetime against Mussina. But after the Sox loaded the
bases on a walk to Millar, Nixon's Wall double (his third hit of the game), and
an intentional walk to Bill Mueller, Varitek came sprinting in from the bullpen.
No one has ever accused Varitek of leading this team in anything measured with a
stopwatch. But he always runs hard, and last night was no exception, as he hit a
ball into the hole that shortstop Derek Jeter gloved on the short hop and threw
to second. Soriano's relay came within a footstep of catching Varitek.
even more dominating than he was in Game 1's 5-2 win in the Bronx, held the
Bombers to one run on five hits through seven innings, the run scoring in the
fifth on Jeter's double that struck the third base bag. Wakefield struck out the
side in the sixth, and set down seven Yankees in a row before being lifted for
Mike Timlin after walking Jason Giambi to start the eighth. Wakefield, who
dodged a bullet in the first when Giambi's bid for a three-run home run drifted
just foul, was working with the narrowest margins until the Sox pushed across
the run in the seventh.
dicey for the Sox in the eighth. Wakefield walked Jason Giambi on a 3-and-2
pitch to start the inning and was immediately lifted. It seemed like a quick
hook given that Wakefield struck out the side in the sixth and threw four
pitches in the seventh, but Mike Timlin retired the next three batters. The
suddenly amazing Timlin has retired 22 of 22 batters in the postseason, but he
was replaced in the ninth by Scott Williamson.
gave a sellout crowd of 34,599 palpitations when Yankee pinch hitter Ruben
Sierra homered over the visitors' bullpen with one out in the ninth, the first
run allowed by the Sox pen in this series. But Williamson, who credits a
heart-to-heart talk with Nomar Garciaparra in Oakland for restoring his
confidence, struck out David Dellucci and Alfonso Soriano to preserve a 3-2 Sox
win that evened this best-of-seven series at two games apiece.