Red Sox On the Verge of the Unthinkable

Fox Sports boasts the ad campaign, "You can't script October." Well, if baseball fans could, they probably would want nothing more than to see a Game 7 between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. After the Red Sox lost the first three games of the ALCS, could a seventh game even have been a possibility?

Perhaps the Red Sox's new slogan should be, "You can't count us out," after storming their way back into the best-of-seven series with three straight improbable wins. On Tuesday night, Boston received a courageous performance from battered starter Curt Schilling, who carried the Red Sox on his shoulders for a 4-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.

"I'm so (expletive) proud of this team," Schilling said during the post-game press conference, "We just did something that has never been done yet. It ain't over yet."

Despite nursing an ankle injury, Schilling followed through on what he had promised prior to accepting a trade to Boston in the offseason and that was to beat the Yankees in October. After failing to deliver in Game 1, Schilling allowed just one run, a solo homer off the bat of Bernie Williams, over seven innings of four-hit ball. He departed with a 4-1 lead and received a huge embrace from his manager.

"Since he signed here, he's been shooting for this game," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "In his mind, he's been picturing it. He didn't do it the first time and that killed him."

In addition to Schilling's stellar performance, Boston got some offense from an unlikely source. Mark Bellhorn, who Red Sox fans have been clamoring for to be sent to the bench, broke out of a 4-for-32 postseason slump by delivering a three-run homerun in Boston's four-run fourth inning.

Bellhorn's three-run blast was initially called a ground-rule double by left-field umpire Jim Joyce. After conferring with the other umpires, Joyce reversed the call, the correct one at that, and Bellhorn's shot down the left-field line was deemed a homerun.

The umpires also reversed another call in the eighth inning on a critical play that involved a bit of deception on the Yankees' part. With one out and Derek Jeter on first base, the Red Sox lead was cut to 4-2 with Alex Rodriguez at the plate.

Rodriguez tapped a grounder back to pitcher Bronson Arroyo, which Arroyo snagged and ran towards first base to tag the runner. As Arroyo reached over to tag Rodriguez, his left forearm was deliberately struck by Rodriguez, a karate chop that knocked the ball out his glove. Jeter alertly raced around the bases to score all the way from first, while Rodriguez ended up on second base, cutting the Red Sox lead to one run.

Francona then came storming out of the Red Sox dugout to argue the call. After fielder Doug Mientkiewicz blocked first base umpire Randy Marsh's view, Marsh had to hold another umpire conference on the field to determine what had transpired on the play.

"You could see Alex take a swipe at the ball," Francona said of the fraudulent play by Rodriguez.

After a short discussion, Marsh ruled Rodriguez out for interfering with Arroyo and ordered Jeter back to first base. The crowd of 56,128 at Yankee Stadium was incensed at this point and began throwing foreign objects onto the playing field.

"That was unprofessional. That's against the rules," Kevin Millar said. "If you want to play football, strap on some pads and go play for the Green Bay Packers."

Millar should have said the Oakland Raiders because after more calls went against the Yankees favor, the fans threw more junk onto the field, resembling a football game in Oakland. It reached a point where the umpires had to call for extra security to be placed on the field.

Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security for the commissioner's office, summoned a team of riot police to surround the foul lines in case some angry fans decided to hoist themselves onto the field.

With safety restored in the stadium, the Red Sox proceeded to take care of business on the field. Former San Francisco Giant farmhand and current Boston closer Keith Foulke got the three most important outs in the ninth inning, striking out Tony Clark with the tying runs on base. It was Foulke's second save of the series. For a second consecutive year, the Yankees and Red Sox must play Game 7 at Yankee Stadium to determine the winner of the AL pennant and the right to pass to the World Series.

Boston will turn to the Game 4 starter Derek Lowe (1-0, 4.26 ERA in the postseason) to pitch on Wednesday night. Tim Wakefield, the earlier scheduled starter, in all likelihood, will be the first pitcher out of the bullpen if needed. New York will counter with their big-name pitching acquisition this past offseason, right-hander Kevin Brown (1-0, 4.50).

"When we were up 3-0, we didn't want to be in this position," said Rodriguez. "If we win (Wednesday night), it won't be embarrassing."

If the Red Sox pull off the biggest miracle comeback in MLB history, it would be an utter embarrassment for the Yankees. However, the Game 6 interference play by A-Rod is pretty embarrassing in its own right. Unbelievable, unscripted television at its best.

Notes around the Majors
* The Florida Marlins released one-time closer Billy Koch on Tuesday. Koch saved 44 games just two years ago for the Oakland A's. At 29, he remains an intriguing possibility for bullpen-starved teams, especially at a reduced price.

* An eight-year, $470 million deal is in place for MLB to sign with XM Satellite Radio. An announcement is expected to come Wednesday morning during a news conference with baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

* The Houston Astros have decided to start Pete Munro on normal rest instead of throwing Roger Clemens out on just three days rest. The thinking is that they have two shots to win one game and a fully-rested Clemens should be sharper in a Game 7, if necessary.

* MLB fined Cardinals pitcher Julian Tavarez $10,000 for throwing a pitch over the head of Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell. Tavarez is represented by agent Scott Boras and has said that he plans file an appeal.

Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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