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October 9, 2003

Boston 5, New York 2
by Larry Mahnken

There's no way around it, there's no way to deny it, there's no way to spin it positively, and if there was, trust me, I would. This loss was huge. There is no matchup in this series that favored the Yankees more than Mussina vs. Wakefield, but last night, it was Wakefield that looked like the ace and Mussina who looked shaky. Was it the long rest for Mussina? Was it the discipline that helped the Sox deny Clemens his 300th win? It was probably a combination of the two.

The Yankees really needed Mussina to be perfect last night, because Wakefield's knuckleball was keeping them off-balance the whole game. He wasn't perfect, he struggled to find control, and in the middle innings, he struggled to keep the ball in the yard.

Game One isn't as important as advertised, but in this case, it's huge. Forget Pedro's .500 record against the Yankees, if the Red Sox win both of Pedro's starts, the Yankees have to win every other game--Lowe twice, Suppan or Burkett once, and Wakefield in his second attempt against Mussina. Can it be done? Sure. Win a game against Pedro, and you're back in control. But last night, the advantage fell right into Boston's lap.

Frankly, there's nothing I can fault the Yankees for in this game. Mussina didn't pitch well, but he didn't exactly pitch horribly, either. The Yankees didn't get hits off of Wakefield, but his knuckleball was moving all over the plate. It was a lost opportunity for the Yankees, but it was really something that the Red Sox took. And that's something that's important to understand. The Red Sox TOOK this game. Hey, news flash, "1918" crowd--they can actually do that. The Yankees haven't won by divine intervention, they've won by earning it. Boston is 25% of the way towards earning the pennant.

I'm terribly depressed over this outcome. The 7th inning rally gave us all a little hope, but ultimately it wasn't enough. Suddenly, Game Two becomes huge.

Help us, Good Andy. You're our only hope.