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October 16, 2003

Crushed: Boston 9, New York 6
by Larry Mahnken

Well, you didn't think they'd finish the Red Sox off that easily, did you?

After 25 games, most closely contested, these two teams now square off in one final meeting, Game Seven, the one that will decide it all. But it didn't have to come to this. It shouldn't have come to this.

It's been several hours since Game 6 ended, and I still have no heart to write about it. It feels as though the Yankees have lost their chance, that they've already lost the series. I felt this way going into Game Four last season, Game Five in 1995 and 1997. Defeat seems an almost forgone conclusion. The Yankees, particularly at the plate, have played a terrible series. Really, how many good at-bats have you seen the Yankees' batters have? They've mostly scored on mistakes by the Boston pitchers, not by working counts and looking for their pitch. They've stopped batting and they've commenced trying to hit, and they've wasted many of the few scoring opportunities they've had by trying to do too much.

They did beat Pedro, but it was the only time that Pedro has ever lost a postseason game, and he pitched, by his standards, poorly. He's not going to throw offspeed pitches all game, and hang breaking balls over the plate, he's going to hit his spots, keep the Yankees off-balance, and as long as they keep batting like they have, he's going to go at least seven, by which time, it should all be decided.

The only chance for the Yankees is Clemens, pitching to save his career. He's come through big for the Yankees several times before: in Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS and Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, in Game 5 of the 2001 ALDS and Games 3 and 7 of the 2001 World Series. And he has to do it one more time, shut the Red Sox down for seven innings, hope the Yankees can scratch a run or two, and give the ball to Rivera.

Torre's decision to use Rivera for two on Tuesday didn't burn the Yankees yesterday, but his decision to not warm anybody up until the damage had been done to Jose Contreras in the seventh killed the Yankees. Gabe White gave up a nail-in-the-coffin homer to Trot Nixon in the ninth, but it appears that Torre gave up on White long ago, for no apparent reason. Other than Rivera, Contreras and Heredia, Torre seems unwilling to give the ball to anyone in the bullpen, although Jeff Nelson has curiously found his way back into the mix in the past few games.

But where this game will be decided tonight is with Clemens. If someone other than Clemens or Rivera is pitching tonight, the game is probably lost for New York.

I can't write any more, I'm too upset by the outcome of yesterday's game. With the Florida Marlins waiting to be crushed, this game will likely determine who wins the World Series.

Worst of all, if the season ends tomorrow, it will end with there likely being no great moment to remember this season by. If you can recall one, please remind me. I'd love to know.