SERIES: AL championship series; Yankees lead 3-1.
Fresh off prolonging their season at least one more day, the Red Sox will continue their quest to become the first team in baseball history to rally from a 3-0 deficit and win a series when they take on the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the AL championship series.
Three outs from suffering an embarrassing sweep on Sunday, the Red Sox rallied off Mariano Rivera to tie the game. With nobody out in the ninth, Mueller grounded a cut fastball from Rivera, who was in his second inning of work, up the middle to score pinch-runner Dave Roberts, who had stolen second.
The Red Sox eventually put runners on first and third with one out, but the winning run never scored as Rivera came back to strike out Orlando Cabrera and got Ortiz to pop up.
But then in the 12th inning Ortiz finished the job as he hit a two-run home run off Paul Quantrill, giving the Red Sox a 6-4 victory.
Of the 25 previous teams to fall behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, 20 were swept, three lost in five games and the other two lost in six. Not that any of that matters to Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
“We set out today to win. That was our only objective. Somehow we did,” Francona said.
While the Yankees aren’t about to panic, manager Joe Torre doesn’t want to see the Red Sox stick around much longer, especially since Francona confirmed after Game 4 that Curt Schilling will pitch Game 6 at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
“I’m a firm believer in momentum in a short series,” Torre said. “Momentum is easily changed in a short series. It will come down to who pitches the best. There’s not much you can do (about a loss like Sunday), but just make sure we don’t go out to the next game with any baggage.”
If Boston’s season is to continue, Martinez will have to figure out a way to stop New York. The Dominican right-hander has lost his last three starts against the Yankees, including a 3-1 defeat in Game 2 on Wednesday. Over his last 18 1-3 innings against New York, Martinez has allowed 16 earned runs.
However, the Red Sox can take solace in the fact that Martinez pitched very well against the Yankees on Wednesday, save for the two-run home run he served up to John Olerud in the sixth inning. By the time he left the mound after six, he had given up just four hits and had struck out seven.
Martinez will be opposed by Mike Mussina, who set the tone for this series by throwing 6 1-3 perfect innings in Game 1.
“That’s the best six innings I’ve had all year,” Mussina said. “If I knew why it was like that, I would do it every time.”
Mussina came apart after giving up a one-out double to Mark Bellhorn in the seventh. One out later, he gave up a single to Ortiz, and Kevin Millar hit a two-run double. Trot Nixon then lined an RBI single and Mussina’s night was done. The Yankees went on to win 10-7.
“I think he just got a little tired. He did everything we asked him to do,” Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. “His curveball was very good, but I thought the velocity and location of his fastball was excellent.”
He’ll likely have to be as good on Monday as the Red Sox can sense a little momentum building following Sunday’s win.
Ortiz, for one, says the character the Red Sox have shown all season showed up late in Game 4 and may be here to stay.
“We’re still playing here in Boston,” Ortiz said. “We get a lot of support form the fans and that’s all we care about right now. Hopefully, we’ll come back with the same attitude and keep winning because that’s what this series is all about.”
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Yankees - SS Derek Jeter (.292, 23 HRs, 78 RBIs, 23 SBs), 3B Alex Rodriguez (.286, 36, 106, 28 SBs), RF Gary Sheffield (.290, 36, 121, 117 runs), LF Hideki Matsui (.298, 31, 108), CF Bernie Williams (.262, 22, 70), C Posada (.272, 21, 81), 1B John Olerud (.259, 9, 48) or Tony Clark (.221, 16, 49), 2B Miguel Cairo (.292, 6, 42), DH Kenny Lofton (.275, 3, 18) or Ruben Sierra (.244, 17, 65). Red Sox - CF Johnny Damon (.304, 20 HRs, 94 RBIs, 123 runs, 19 SBs), 2B Mark Bellhorn (.264, 17, 82, 177 Ks), LF Manny Ramirez (.308, 43, 130), DH Ortiz (.301, 41, 139), 1B Kevin Millar (.297, 18, 74), RF Trot Nixon (.315, 6, 23), C Jason Varitek (.296, 18, 73), SS Orlando Cabrera (.294, 6, 31), 3B Mueller (.283, 12, 57).
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Mussina (1-1, 3.95 ERA). Mussina ended up allowing four runs and four hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in Game 1. The 35-year-old right-hander is 6-6 with a 3.17 ERA in 18 career postseason appearances, including 17 starts. He is 17-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 42 career regular-season starts against the Red Sox, including going 10-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 21 starts at Fenway Park.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Martinez (1-1, 4.15 ERA). Martinez is 5-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 career playoff appearances, including nine starts. He is 10-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 28 career regular-season starts against the Yankees.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 11-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - 1B Olerud (bruised left instep) was replaced in the lineup Sunday by Clark. His availability for the rest of the series is unknown. … RHP Rivera’s blown save Sunday was his fourth in 36 career postseason chances. … LF Matsui went 2-for-5 and is batting .550 (11-for-20) in the series. Red Sox - RHP Keith Foulke, LHP Alan Embree and RHP Curtis Leskanic combined to allow just three hits in 5 2-3 scoreless innings of relief on Sunday. … DH Ortiz is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with six RBIs in the series. … OF Damon went 0-for-5 and is hitting .056 (1-for-18) in the series.
POSTSEASON ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 3-1 on the road. Red Sox - 2-1 at home.