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

 2003 ALCS, GAME #7
Aaron Boone's HR sends the Yankees
to the World Series

October 16, 2003 ... Aaron Boone's 11th-inning, first-pitch, walkoff homer off Tim Wakefield at 12:16 in the morning gave the Yankees a 6-5, Game 7 victory over the Sox, putting New York in the World Series against the Florida Marlins.

Boston led, 4-0 in the fifth and 5-2 in the eighth. Like their Chicago Cub cousins earlier this week, the Sox were five outs away with a three-run lead. Champagne was chilling. But before you could say Calvin Schiraldi, Pedro Martinez coughed up four straight hits, three runs, and the American League pennant. Fittingly, Martinez was KO'd by a bloop two-run double to center by Jorge Posada.

It won't take days, weeks, or months to find the Game 7 goat. Say hello to Sox manager Grady Little, who joins Denny Galehouse, Johnny Pesky, Bill Buckner, Mike Torrez, John McNamara, the aforementioned Schiraldi, and Bob Stanley in the Sox collection of dartboard ornaments. Little left Martinez in the game long after it was clear the fragile ace was done.

It was surprising to see Pedro start the eighth. With one out, he surrendered a long double to Derek Jeter, then a hard single by Bernie Williams.  Grady went to the mound. Relievers were ready. Nothing.

 

Hideki Matsui cracked a hard double to right. Still no hook from the manager. Martinez was left to face Posada, who more than evened the score in their personal war with the bloop double to center. That tied the game and finally Little came out to get Martinez. The manager said Martinez told him he wanted to stay in the game when he went out for the first visit.

There was an air of inevitability after the fateful Yankee eighth. The Sox weren't able to do anything with Yankee closer Mariano Rivera (three innings, 48 pitches) and it was just a matter of time before someone hit a walkoff homer off the weary Wakefield.

This was an event with absolutely no need for artificial enlargement. It offered a return to childhood for many Red Sox fans. In the backyard mind games of a Boston-based kid, who wouldn't concoct the scenario of Sox vs. Yankees, Game 7, Martinez vs. Roger Clemens.  The classic pitching duel, two future Hall of Famers with nine Cy Young Awards between them, fell apart faster than a cake box in a carwash.

Clemens got through the first without any damage, but the Sox rocked him in the second. After David Ortiz lined to center for the first out, Kevin Millar cracked a single to center and Trot Nixon launched a 2-and-0 pitch into the center-field bleachers. Jason Varitek followed with a two-out double to right and scored when Enrique Wilson threw away Johnny Damon's routine grounder to third.

Millar, Mr. Cowboy Up, led off the fourth with a laser homer. Clemens was yanked before getting anyone out in the inning.  He looked all of 41 years old as he walked off the field for the final time in his 20-year career. Mike Mussina replaced Clemens and stopped the Sox surge.

Jason Giambi, dropped to seventh in the batting order, led off the fifth with a first-pitch homer to center, cutting Boston's lead to 4-1. Two innings later, Giambi hit another solo homer and it was 4-2. With two out and nobody aboard, the annoying Enrique Wilson hit a weird hop single to first, then Karim Garcia singled to right. Alfonso Soriano, always a home run threat, was next, but Martinez struck him out on 2-and-2 pitch.

Ortiz padded the lead with a solo shot off reliever David Wells in the eighth. Again working with a three-run cushion, Pedro came out for the eighth and gave up another run on a Derek Jeter double and a Bernie Williams single. Sox manager Grady Little came out to talk with his ace, but left Martinez in the game. The Sox got a big break when Hideki Matsui's shot into right went for a ground-rule double. Amazingly, Little stayed with Martinez, who was closing in on 120 pitches. Then Posada's bloop to center scored two and that was it for Pedro. Alan Embree and Mike Timlin came on to douse the fire and it was on the excruciating ninth. But only heartache loomed.

 

This was easily Boston's most crushing loss since the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, when the Red Sox held a two-run lead with two outs and nobody aboard in the bottom of the 10th at Shea Stadium. In Sox-Yankee lore, it certainly belongs with the 1978 playoff game in which Bucky Dent hit the three-run homer and acquired a new middle name.

The Sox had a golden chance to make it to the World Series for the first time since 1986.  The Sox aren't going to the World Series because Grady fell asleep at the wheel and Pedro couldn't perform like a star when it counted.

The 2003 Red Sox were an admirable bunch. Keep them in your hearts for a while. No group of athletes can be truly prepared for the larger forces that clearly have gripped this franchise.



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2003 A.L. CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

 

 

Boston Red Sox

3 Games

 

 

New York Yankees

4 Games

 

 

2003 American League Championship Series, Game 7

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

 

R

H

E

 
 

BOSTON RED SOX

0

3

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

 

5

11

0

 
 

NEW YORK YANKEES

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

3

0

0

1

 

6

11

1

 

 

W-Mariano Rivera (1-0)
L-Tim Wakefield (2-2)
Attendance 56,279

2B-Varitek (Bost), Ortiz (Bost), Matsui (2)(NY),
Jeter (NY), Posada (NY)
HR-Nixon (Bost), Millar (Bost), Ortiz (Bost),
Giambi (2)(NY), Boone (Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED SOX

 

AB

R

H

 

 

Johnny Damon cf 5 0 0  

 

Todd Walker 2b 5 0 1  

 

Nomar Garciaparra ss 5 0 1  

 

Manny Ramirez lf 5 0 1  

 

David Ortiz dh 5 1 2  

 

Gabe Kapler pr 0 0 0  

 

Kevin Millar 1b 5 2 2  

 

Trot Nixon rf 4 1 1  

 

Bill Mueller 3b 5 0 1  

 

Jason Varitek c 4 1 2  

 

Damian Jackson pr 0 0 0  

 

Doug Mirabelli c 1 0 0  
             
    IP H ER SO  
  Pedro Martinez 7.1 10 5 8  
  Alan Embree 0.1 0 0 0  
  Mike Timlin 1.1 0 0 1  
  Tim Wakefield 1 1 1 0  

 

         

 

             

 

YANKEES

 

AB

R

H

 

 

Alfonso Soriano 2b 5 0 0  

 

Nick Johnson 1b 4 0 0  

 

Derek Jeter ss 5 1 1  

 

Bernie Williams cf 5 1 2  

 

Hideki Matsui lf 5 1 2  

 

Jorge Posada c 5 0 1  

 

Jason Giambi dh 5 2 2  

 

Enrique Wilson 3b 3 0 1  

 

Ruben Sierra ph 0 0 0  

 

Aaron Boone pr/3b 1 1 1  

 

Karim Garcia rf 3 0 1  
             
    IP H ER SO  
  Roger Clemens 3 6 3 1  
  Mike Mussina 3 2 0 3  
  Felix Heredia 0.2 0 0 1  
  Jeff Nelson 0.2 0 0 1  
  David Wells 0.2 1 1 0  
  Mariano Rivera 3 2 0 3