10/19/2003 1:23 AM ET
Boone regrets his choice
Run scored after throw home was cut off
drives in two runs: 56K | 300K
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Boone discusses play
NEW YORK -- If he had it to do all over again, Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone said he would not have cut off Hideki Matsui's throw from left field and instead would have given catcher Jorge Posada a chance to nail the Marlins' Juan Encarnacion.
Boone's decision to cut off the throw, allowing Encarnacion to score the second run on Juan Pierre's single, turned out to be a pivotal play in Florida's 3-2 win in Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.
After cutting off the throw, Boone threw behind Pierre, who scampered safely back into first base on the two-run single which broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Marlins a 3-1 lead they never relinquished.
Manager Joe Torre said he wasn't sure if the Yankees had a play at the plate on Encarnacion.
"You know I couldn't tell," Torre said. "We tell our infielders in situations when you have 50,000 people in the stands that you pretty much can't rely on hearing somebody say, 'cut it off,' or 'relay.' You have to use your own judgment."
For the second straight game, Boone was the focus of attention. He ended Thursday night's game in the wee hours of the morning with an 11th-inning homer that sunk the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Saturday night, as one of the moving parts in the drama that is every baseball game, starting pitcher David Wells said Boone acted totally on "instincts" when he cut off Matsui's throw.
"You get those kind of plays happening all the time," Boone said. "I saw Encarnacion go past me. I know he runs decent. I figured that if there wasn't a play I just didn't want to let it go and have another man on second."
Torre said he didn't ask Boone afterwards why he cut the ball off. "He knows how to play third base. That's the reason he threw to first because he was just assuming (Pierre) was going to take a big turn."
Wells, who pitched seven innings of six-hit ball and took the loss, was fairly animated at the time Boone made the decision. But as he sat in front of his locker afterward, he said there was no one to blame for the way that play or the game turned out.
Posada said he did not tell Boone to cut off the throw nor could the third baseman even have heard Posada amid the screams of 55,759.
"There's nobody really here to fault," Wells said. "If you're going to blame anybody, blame me. I made the pitches. I gave up the three runs. It was just instincts, that's all it was. If you watch on TV, you can second-guess the decision, but you really can't. He made the play. You can't point the finger at anybody. He didn't hear anything. He felt that (Encarnacion) was probably going to score. He cut it off and tried to get an out."
Wells had walked Jeff Conine to open the inning and Encarnacion followed with a single to right. Both runners moved up a base on a perfectly executed bunt by Alex Gonzalez. That set the stage for the ensuing passion play.
Pierre, 2-for-3 with a run scored, a stolen base and two RBIs, rifled the single to medium left. Conine scored, Matsui raced in and came up throwing just as Encarnacion rounded third base.
"(Matsui) had to throw across his body and the ball was actually tailing off a little bit," Boone said. "But it was a good throw, even if it took Jorge a couple of steps to his left, which I kind of thought it might. Looking at the replay and talking to Posada now I think we would've had a chance."
Posada echoed the same sentiment.
"He just thought the throw was off-line," Posada said. "But I thought we had a good chance."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.