Monday, October 18, 2004

Game 4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 4

The Yankees were one game away from returning to the World Series. Their bats were hot. Their pitching... surprisingly holding up strong. It appeared as though after the first two innings, we might see the first actual pitching duel. Both Derek Lowe and El Duque seemed to have very little trouble with either lineup. Lowe was cruising in the third when he gave up a two out hit to Derek Jeter. On the very next pitch A Rod unloaded once again, knocking his second home run in two nights over the Green Monster onto Lansdowne Street. In one swing of the bat, the Yankees got out to another quick lead 2-0. The only comic relief in two games for the Red Sox came after a fan outside the stadium threw A Rod's ball back onto the playing field. Johnny Damon picked up the ball and fired out of the stadium. Seconds later, the ball came flying back onto the field. Yankees 2, Red Sox 0.

El Duque looked sharp striking out five through four and retiring the side in the fourth. He struggled in the fifth when he let two runners on with one out and the slumping Johnny Damon at the plate. He almost got him to ground into a double play, but the speedy Damon beat the throw to first base. Cabrera's weak single to the right side to put the Red Sox on the scoreboard for the first time. El Duque loaded the bases with a walk and David Ortiz lined a two RBI basehit for the first Sox lead of the game and just the second in the entire series. Too bad for El Duque. He was pitching great all night. He struck out Varitek to end the inning, but the damage was done. Red Sox 3, Yankees 2.

In the top of the sixth, Matsui continued his hitting tirade with an one out triple over the head of Johnny Damon in deep centerfield. That was his second extra base hit of the night. The Sox pitchers can't get Godzilla out. Manager Terry Francona gave Lowe the quick hook when he went to his bullpen and called upon Chef Timlin. The infield was playing in hoping to throw the runner out at home. Bernie Williams chopped a slow ground ball towards Cabrera who over ran the ball. Matsui scored to tied the game and Williams safely reached first. On a wild pitch, Williams took second. Posada walked. On another ball in the dirt, Willaims raced for third but was thrown out by Varitek in another close play at third. With two outs, Timlin gave up an infield single to Sierra and the Yankees continued another big rally. Mark Belhorn blew a rountine ground ball off the bat of Tony Clark who replaced the injured John Olreud. The runner scored and the Yankees took back the lead. The crowd's energy suddenly disappeared and a sarcastic chant of "Pokey! Pokey!" filled the stadium. The fans were calling for Pokey Reese instead of continuing the inept play of Belhorn. Timlin walked the Yankees number nine batter to load the bases. At that point, you had to question yet another pitching change. Francona should have left Lowe in the game instead an ineffective Timlin who coughed up the lead. Yankees 4, Red Sox 3.

Joe Torre lifted EL Duque and called Tanyon Sturtze into the game. Strutze grew up in Worcester and was raised a Red Sox fan. His task was to put them down and hand the lead over to Gordon and Rivera. He did his job and pitched a scoreless sixth. With one out in the seventh, Francona brought his closer Keith Foulke in to pitch to a red hot Matsui. He induced a weak grounder to first, then struck out Bernie Williams to end the inning.

The Sox had nine outs left with a less than optimistic crowd supporting them. Strurtze struck out Belhorn who was greeted by a chorus of boos. Eight outs to go. Johnny Damon continued his futility when he grounded out and dropped to a dismal 1 for 17 in the series. Seven outs to go. Cabrera roped a shot to shallow centerfield, but Bernie Williams made a sliding catch to help Sturtze retire the side in order.

Bottom of the eighth and Torre wasn't going to fuck around. He brought in the superhuman Mo Rivera for the final six outs. Would the Sox be able to beat up on the Hammer of God? Manny Ramirez squeaked out a base hit on a fastball that Mo hung over the plate. Mo struck out Ortiz. Five outs to go. Vartiek was jammed and grounded out to Tony Clark. Four outs to go and it was Trot Nixon's turn. He also grounded out to first base to end the inning.

It was after Midnight. The Sox would be down to their final three outs in the bottom of the ninth, down by a run, on the brink of elimination. The Hammer of God vs. Cowboy Up. The last time those two characters me... Mo Rivera mowed him down. Unfortunately, Mo walked him. In July, Bill Mueller won a game with a walk off home run against Mo Rivera in the infamous brawl game. He had a chance to do the same and keep the Sox hopes alive. The pinch runner Dave Roberts stole second on a close call and good throw from Posada. Mueller singled up the middle to tied the game. Mo blew his first save ever against the Red Sox. Ughh. I really wanted the sweep! Meinkewitz sacrificed the runner to second with a bunt. Johnny Damon hit a weak grounder to Tony Clark at first base and he bobbled the ball allowing the runners to be safe. First and third with one out... it was looking good. Mo struck out Cabrera on three pitches. Two outs and Manny up to bat. Mo walked him to load the bases. It was up to Ortiz. Mo jammed Ortiz and he hit a towering pop up to end the rally. Extra innings, or as they used to say in the South..."Free baseball!"

No more Foulke. It was Chef Embree's turn to tame the Yankees bat with the game on the line. After two quick outs, Ruben Sierra gutted out a two out bloop single, but Tony Clark stranded him after a long fly out to Damon. Bottom of the tenth for the Sox. Flash Gordon took the mound for the Yanks. Varitek lined out. Trot grounded out. It was up to Pokey Reese, filling in for Belhorn at second, in his first at bat of the series. The freezing crowd started chanting, "Pokey! Pokey! Pokey!" Too bad Flash struck him out looking. Bring on the 11th inning!

Cairo led off the inning with a single aginst Embree. Jeter bunted him over to second. A Rod was looking to drive in the run. Cabrera robbed A Rod of a base hit with diving snag. Two outs with Sheffield up to bat who was intentionally walked to get to Matsui. Mike Meyers walked Matsui on four straight pitches to load the bases and a collective grumbled filled the air at Fenway. Francona went to Chef Leskanic. I liked the Yankees chances with Bernie Williams up and the bases juiced. Alas, Bernie flied out to Damon and the Yankees rally was over. Yankees 4, Red Sox 4.

The Sox stranded another runner and Flash Gordon got them through another inning. The game was reaching it's fourth hour and the 12th inning began. I was wondering when the Yankees were going to make their move against a depleted Boston bullpen. I was sleepy and I had a ton to write before I crashed. I wanted to get this game over with!

Posada led off the inning with a base hit. Sierra smacked at shot at Leskanic who fired to first base. With Posada on second, Tony Clark flied out to left. The Yankees ninth hitter Miguel Cairo had a chance to give the Yankees the lead but struck out.

Aginst Paul Quantrill, Manny led off the bottom of the 12th with a single to left. Then Ortiz smacked a homer into deep right field to end the game and force a game five. After five hours, the Sox finally did something right. Red Sox 6, Yankees 4.

The Yankees blew it. Now I'll have to miss a poker tournament at the Blue Parrot on Monday night just to watch the game.

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