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Home  >  Red Sox Diary  >  2003  >  October

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

In the playoffs
Red Sox at Oakland, Game 1
Pedro Martinez vs. Tim Hudson

Well here we are in the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. This game has gone from elation to
despair three or four times. Todd Walker goes 4-5 with 2 HRs. Pedro goes 130 pitches
and leaves with a 4-3 lead. Many opportunities are missed to get more. And the bullpen
goes into the 8th clinging to a 1 run lead.

Timlin gets them out in the 8th, but we know it's Kim in the 9th. And Kim of course gets
into trouble. It's a one out walk and a hit batter for 1st and 2nd. He strikes out Mark
Ellis, but with Durazo up (and lefties kill Kim) Grady goes for Embree. Durazo drives a
single to left to tie the game, and here we are.

Well - 12th inning - the Sox give it away. Derek Lowe, game 3 starter, in for his 2nd
inning of relief 'cause there's no confidence in the pen, gives up two walks, allows the
runners to go to 2nd and 3rd, intentionally walks another. Then Ramon Hernandez the
catcher catches everyone off guard with a perfect bunt and it's all over.

2:50 AM in the morning. I've watched this game for nearly 5 hours. The Red Sox have
found a new way to destroy my soul and break my heart. Or the A's just out-foxed us.
Whatever it is, it's another low point in Red Sox fandom.

Monday, October 6, 2003

5th Game of the Playoffs
Pedro Martinez vs. Barry Zito

The 5th and deciding game of the playoffs, this is a terrific pitching duel. Zito and
Martinez are terrific. Into the 6th, Oakland has a 1-0 lead. Varitek leads it off with
a huge home run to tie it. Then Manny is up with two runners on. Manny has done nothing
this series and looked horrible against Zito. But Zito is tiring a bit after only 3 days
rest. On an inside fastball, Manny launches one way out for a 3 run homer.

In the 7th inning, a play happens that will change the lives of every baseball fan. A
popup to short center field looks like it may fall between Jackson and Damon. Neither
call for it, and as both are about to catch it, they collide in a horrible head-on
collision. The ball drops, Nomar picks it up and throws to second to miraculously get
the sliding Dye. But Damon doesn't get up. He's knocked unconscious for 2 long
minutes. He finally comes to, and is wheeled off in a stretcher to an ambulance. He
raises his hand just as he's put on the ambulance, to let everyone know he is ok. We
later learn he has a concussion but apparently no further damage. A scary time, where
all perspective on sports turns to concern about the health of a human being.

Back to the game we go. Oakland scratches back and it 4-3. Pedro is done in the 8th,
but Embree and Timlin get
them out hanging on to the lead.

Here we are in the bottom of the 9th. Scott Williamson is our closer. If he can't close
it, we don't deserve it and we'll never beat the Yankees. Williamson throws 5 balls out
of 6 and I'm screaming "throw strikes".

He walks two guys and Grady panics. It's now up to Derek Lowe as the closer. I can't
believe we're back to no closer. We have no chance. Derek Lowe has never been
able to do it under this kind of pressure.

...

Unbelievable!!!!

Derek Lowe comes in, they sac bunt for 2nd and 3rd. Then Derek Lowe gets two
unbelievable inside strikeouts, two identical pitches that tailed back on the inside
corner of left handed batters, and the division series is ours.

Is there a chance against the evil empire? Of course there is. They'll have to do it
with hitting and really top notch pitching.

Monday, October 13, 2003

4th Game of ALCS
Red Sox vs. Evil Empire
Tim Wakefield vs. Mike Mussina

Wakefield wiggles out of a first inning jam with a stroke of luck when Giambi lines into
a double play with two runners on. It's 0-0 into the 4th when Todd Walker strikes again
with his 5th homer of the playoffs. But the Yankees are back at it again in the 5th,
with two singles and a double off the 3rd base bag by Jeter to make it 1-1 and give them
2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Another stroke of luck - Giambi hits a foul home run near the
Pesky pole. Then he pops to short center and the runners hold. Wakefield gets Posada to
line out to preserve the 1-1 tie.

Nixon comes through with another big homer in the bottom of the 5th. In the 7th Nixon
doubles off the wall with a Millar on, where Matsui makes a Yaz like decoy to keep Millar
at 3rd. They walk Mueller, and Varitek just barely beats out a fielder's choice grounder
to score the run for 3-1. Hopefully a safe lead with Wakefield continuing to do well,
and Timlin and Williamson backing up.

Wakefield walks Giambi in the 8th and they go to Timlin, who gives up a long drive by
Williams to center but just a long out. Then he continues his mastery by getting two
more outs. 22 up, 22 down in the playoffs for Timlin. Williams looks unhittable again
in the 9th, but Sierra catches up to a fastball and puts it in the bleachers for 3-2.
Not to worry, the next two batters can't catch up to him as he strikes out all three in
the 9th to preserve the 3-2 win.

Series is tied, 2-2 now. Lowe goes in game 5 in Fenway where he's been terrific all
year. I like our chances. These are two evenly matched teams. One will go to the World
Series, one will go home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Red Sox at Evil Empire Game 6
John Burkett vs. Andy Pettite

Game 5 we were supposed to win and didn't. Down 3-2 with Pettite going against our 4th
starter, it looked bleak. And when Giambi blasted a home run in the 1st inning, our
hopes were dashed some more.

However, this Red Sox team has such amazing resilience. Varitek blasts an upper deck
shot in the 3rd to start it, and they get 3 more runs stringing together singles and
walks against Pettite who's clearly not invincible to take a 4-1 lead.

Armageddon is near in the 4th inning, as the Yankees put together some hits, a huge error
by Nomar, and a booming double by Soriano to take a 5-4 lead. Red Sox fans are asked to
keep the faith. Burkett is done and they put in Arroyo. Posada reaches him for an
opposite field HR the next inning, and it's 6-4. Yankee fans are counting down the
number of outs to get to Rivera now.

Pettite is done and they put in Contreras, who's been excellent and he strikes out the
side in the 6th. Sox relievers keep it close, as Embree strikes out Giambi with 2nd and
3rd and 1 out in the 6th.

In the top of the 7th, Nomar, two hits today but silent from a power standpoint, hammers
a drive off the centerfield wall which bounces around for a triple, followed up by a wild
throw from Matsui that gives Nomar a "little league" home run. It's 6-5 and the Sox are
juiced. Manny follows with a long double, passed ball, and a single by Ortiz ties the
game. We're not done yet. With a couple of hits and a walk to Damon, we take a 7-6
lead.

The relief pitchers are up to the task. Embree in the 7th, Timlin in the 8th. In the
9th, Nixon comes alive with an upper deck 2 run shot to make it 9-6. Williamson makes it
look easy in the 9th, and it's on to game 7.

Pedro against Roger. The game of the century. Last team left standing goes to the World
Series. Do we finally have the Yankees number? This would be so sweet. The Yankee fans
will be all over Pedro. I hope it fires him up and he goes after the Yankees
aggressively like we know he can. He's been the best pitcher on the planet when he's
been right. Clemens can be had. This will be one for the ages.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Game 7 Against The Evil Empire
Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens

I cannot recap 'cause everyone knows what happened.

This loss hurts as much as any of the past. Time will tell how this 11 inning loss sizes
up with the rest of the heartbreaks in a Red Sox fan's life. For now, it hurts more than
anything. It took 17 years to be back to the brink of a championship after the '86
debacle. And to have the chance to finally beat our demons and take out the Yankees.

This hurts so much because a 5-2 lead with 5 outs to go and a fresh bullpen was ours.
Grady Little made the most obvious tactical error. I don't think one fan could have
mistaken a tired Pedro. Grady's job is to manage, not to ask his pitcher what he
thinks. I will never forgive him for that error that deprived us of a chance to win it
all.

Just one time, we could have won it all. The Red Sox have taken us off the cliff again.