THE CURSE OF THE
BAMBINO, PART 11 ...
IT'S TIME TO "COWBOY UP"
ALCS, GAME #6
A late inning Sox comeback
October 15, 2003
Trailing the Yankees, 6-4, in the seventh inning last night, on the
very brink of elimination in the ballyard in which so many Sox hopes
have been dashed, the Red Sox rallied for three runs in the seventh
and two more in the ninth to beat the Yankees, 9-6, in Game 6 of the
American League Championship Series.
resurgent Sox offense exploited Andy Pettitte and a squadron of Yankee
relievers. Some of the guys who have struggled the most made the biggest
difference, including Nomar Garciaparra (4 for 5 with two runs), David Ortiz (2
for 5 with three RBIs), and Kevin Millar (2 for 5 with an RBI).
The Sox kept
their powder dry for Game 7 by holding back Martinez and gambling on John
Burkett, the 38-year-old gunslinger who had not pitched for 10 days since he
beat the A's in Game 4. Burkett entered the game with a solid record when he had
pitched on more than five days' rest in his two years with the Sox: 3-0 with a
2.95 ERA in six starts. And he fared reasonably well for three innings, allowing
only a homer to Jason Giambi with two out in the first.
rewarded him by rolling up their biggest inning of the series, a four-run
outburst in the third ignited by Varitek's shot off Pettitte. Sox manager Grady
Little made no secret before the game that the only way the Sox would rise out
of the muck of their postseason slump was to bunch some hits together. Of the
team's 32 postseason runs entering the game, 21 were generated by homers. It was
time for some semblance of small ball, Little suggested, and Damon responded by
drawing a walk off Pettitte immediately after Varitek's shot. Todd Walker then
singled Damon to second before Garciaparra bounced into a fielder's choice and
Manny Ramirez walked on four pitches to load the bases for Ortiz, who laced a
two-run single to left-center before Millar capped the four-run rally by
singling home Ramirez.
But with the
lead in hand, Burkett let it slip away in the fourth, with an error by
Garciaparra hastening the slide. With one out, Burkett surrendered consecutive
singles to Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui before Nick Johnson belted a
ground-rule double to right-center, making it 4-2. Matsui then dashed home as
Aaron Boone grounded out to lift the Yankees to within a run, 4-3. Enter
Garciaparra. When Karim Garcia stroked a routine bouncer to short, Garciaparra
bobbled it for an error, putting runners at the corners and forcing Burkett to
get an additional out, which he couldn't. Alfonso Soriano whacked Burkett's next
pitch for a two-run double, routing the right-hander as the Yankees seized a 5-4
lead. Burkett's relief, Bronson Arroyo, picked him up in the fourth but faltered
in the fifth, surrendering a solo blast to Posada that stuck the Sox in a 6-4
When Garciaparra tripled and scored on Matsui's throwing error to start the
seventh, the Sox were back in business. Garciaparra's triple sparked the Sox.
Ramirez followed with a double before Ortiz singled him home. And when Damon
drew a bases-loaded walk off Felix Heredia soon after, the Sox were up, 7-6, a
lead Trot Nixon widened with a two-run homer off Gabe White in the ninth.
The Sox pen
responded superbly as well, as Todd Jones, Alan Embree, Mike Timlin and Scott
Williamson combined to pitch four scoreless innings down the stretch.
after 25 meetings since May (Sox 12, Yankees 13), including six soul-sapping
playoff games over the last eight days, it all comes down to one game tonight at
Yankee Stadium: Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Athens
vs. Sparta for the right to represent the American League in the World Series.