10/17/2003 12:38 AM ET
Boone sends Yankees to Series
Home run in 11th beats Boston, wins AL pennant
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
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Game 7 wrapup: Yankees 6, Red Sox 5 (11)
NEW YORK -- Just when it looked like the Yankees were going to watch a team celebrate a
playoff series win on their turf, New York rallied in stirring fashion and got extra-inning
heroics from an unlikely source in an electrifying 6-5, 11-inning victory Thursday night over
the rival Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee
Aaron Boone, who didn't start the game, led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a home
run to left field off Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, delivering the Yankees' 39th
American League pennant.
"Just to have the opportunity, to be in that spot, get that chance, it's humbling," said Boone,
who was just 2-for-16 in the ALCS before the home run. "This game humbles you all the time
in good and bad ways. It's been humbling a little bit lately in a bad way, and this is just the
same. It's humbling."
The Yankees won the best-of-seven series, 4-3, advancing to the World Series for the sixth time
in eight years under manager Joe Torre.
"I'm numb," Torre said.
New York will host the Florida Marlins in Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday.
Jason Giambi, dropped to seventh in the lineup, hit two solo home runs against Pedro
Martinez, holding the Yankees in the game. Jorge Posada's two-run bloop double tied the
game, 5-5, capping a three-run eighth inning against Martinez.
"Once Jason hit his first home run, it looked like maybe Pedro could be gotten," Torre said.
"When he hit his second, we felt pretty good."
Mariano Rivera threw 48 pitches over three scoreless innings, earning the win and series MVP honors. It was the first time since April
19, 2000, that Rivera threw more than two innings in a game.
"When the emotions come into play," Rivera said, "you can do anything."
"The way he steps it up in the playoffs, it's almost not fair," Giambi said. "He's cartoon-like.
Going out for a third inning, he would have gone out there for a fourth. He wasn't going to
lose this game."
Roger Clemens was touched for three runs in the second, giving Boston a decisive edge with
Martinez on the mound. Clemens pitched a 1-2-3 third, but Kevin Millar drilled the first pitch
of the fourth into the left-field seats, giving the Red Sox a four-run lead. A walk and a single
later, Torre emerged from the dugout to remove Clemens.
Mike Mussina relieved Clemens, making his first relief appearance in 401 career games.
Mussina struck out Jason Varitek and got Johnny Damon to ground into a double play to end the
inning, breathing some life back into the home crowd.
"I was sent to the pen just in case, and that case happened," said Mussina. "We all knew we
were going to be available, and once Roger had to come out, we knew we had to find a way to
piece it together."
"Mike Mussina put the tourniquet on this thing," Torre said. "Without him, this game could
have gotten out of hand and ugly. He came in and got out of that jam, which was huge."
Martinez settled in after the first, sitting the Yankees down in order in the second and third.
Hideki Matsui's fourth-inning double snapped a streak of nine straight batters for Martinez,
who got Posada to ground out to strand Matsui.
Giambi opened the fifth by crushing Martinez's first pitch to center field for his second homer
of the series. Martinez responded by retiring the next six hitters, carrying a 4-1 lead into the
Mussina did a solid job, tossing three scoreless innings to keep the Yankees in the game. Felix
Heredia started the seventh for New York, retiring the first two batters. Jeff Nelson replaced
him to strike out Nomar Garciaparra, ending the inning.
"You knew it was a 'no tomorrow' game," Torre said. "We had a plan. Once Mike gave us
three innings, Heredia did his job, Nelson did his job -- it all fit in very nicely."
Now the Yankees just needed some runs.
Martinez retired the first two batters in the seventh with ease, but Giambi bashed his second
home run of the game on a 2-2 pitch.
"To hit two homers on the biggest stage ever," Giambi said, "this was the biggest game of my
Enrique Wilson followed with an infield single to first, as Millar fell down trying to get to the
base, and Karim Garcia lined a single of his own to right, putting the tying runs on base. But
Martinez reared back and blew away Soriano with his 100th pitch of the game, a 94 mph
fastball, leaving Boston just six outs from the Fall Classic.
David Wells, who won Game 5 on Tuesday, came in to replace Nelson with one out in the
eighth. David Ortiz gave Wells a rude welcome, rapping the first pitch he saw over the
right-field wall to boost Boston's lead back to three runs.
Jeter sparked the eighth-inning rally against Martinez, lifting a one-out double over Trot Nixon's head. Bernie Williams sliced a single to left-center, scoring Jeter to cut the lead to 5-3.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play against Pedro, trying to get that run in," Williams
said. "Everything came together from there."
Matsui lined a double down the right-field line, putting runners at second and third for
Posada. The catcher blooped a 2-2 offering from Martinez -- his 123rd and final pitch -- into
shallow center field, where it fell in. Williams and Matsui scored, tying the game and sending
Yankee Stadium into a frenzy. Mike Timlin intentionally walked pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra,
then walked Garcia on four pitches to load the bases. Soriano, who had struck out all four
times against Martinez, hit a sharp shot up the middle, but Todd Walker made a leaping
grab, flipping it to Garciaparra at second for the third out.
Tie game. Ninth inning. Just the way it ought to be.
Rivera gave up a one-out single to Varitek but sat down the next two hitters, sending the game
to the bottom of the ninth. Timlin remained in the game and retired the Yankees in order to
force extra innings.
Ortiz doubled to left with two outs in the 10th, leaving the game for pinch-runner Gabe
Kapler. But Rivera got Millar to pop out, stranding the go-ahead run at second.
Wakefield, who won two games earlier in the series by frustrating the Yankees with his
knuckleball, came out to pitch the 10th, retiring the Yankees in order. Boone then stepped to
the plate to open the bottom of the 11th against Wakefield and unloaded on the first pitch,
drilling it into the left-field seats for his first career postseason home run.
"That's the greatest ever, to have him step up and hit that pitch, that turns a struggling series
into a great one," Giambi said. "That's all people will remember -- him getting us to the World
Series with one swing of the bat."
"One swing can erase a lot. I'm so happy for him," said GM Brian Cashman. "That swing will
go down in history and he'll be a part of Yankee lore."
Now, Boone and the Yankees will have one day to prepare for the Marlins, who will arrive in
New York on Friday.
"We weren't looking forward to playing Boston, because we knew how tough they were. Now
that it's over with, it couldn't be more satisfying," Torre said. "It's going to be tough to top this
one. We have to get ready for Florida now."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its