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Boone sends Yankees to Series
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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

Aaron Boone (19) and the Yankees celebrate as Boone touches home plate after his homer won New York's 39th AL pennant. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
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    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 Stadium.

    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   /   P
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 185
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
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    Stats
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    Yankees site

    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   /   P
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 185
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
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    Yankees site

    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 seventh.

    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.

        Jason Giambi   /   1B
    Height: 6'3"
    Weight: 235
    Bats/Throws: L/R

    More info:
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    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 life."

    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.

        Bernie Williams   /   CF
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 205
    Bats/Throws: S/R

    More info:
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    "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.

        Aaron Boone   /   3B
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 200
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    Yankees site

    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 clubs.




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