Knuckling Problems

The wind must have been blowing on Wednesday night in Yankee Stadium, because the Yankees couldn't touch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. The knuckle-baller completely shut down the Yankee offense as Boston's power hitters teed off against Mike Mussina. The Red Sox won the first game of the best-of-seven ALCS by a final score of 5-2.

As good as Wakefield was, Mussina was bad. The Moose, renowned for his excellent control as well as his affinity for beating the Red Sox, couldn't find the strike zone early in the game and consistently fell behind batters.

After a perfect first inning, Mussina walked two batters in the second before working out of trouble. In the fourth inning, Mussina allowed an infield single to Manny Ramirez after he botched the play coming off the mound. Then, after getting ahead with an 0-2 count, Mussina grooved a full-count fastball to David Ortiz which the slugger creamed into the New York night.

In the fifth inning, Boston added on two more runs on solo homers from Todd Walker and Ramirez – who went 4/5 on the night after a dismal division series. Right-field umpire Angel Hernandez originally called Walker's blast foul, but his call was overruled. Replays showed that the ball hit the foul pole for a homerun.

The Sox added a run off of Jeff Nelson in the seventh inning on a Kevin Millar single.

With a four-run lead, Wakefield (1-1) continued to shut down Yankee batters. He allowed just two hits – both in the second inning – and a pair of walks while striking out two batters in six innings of work.

He left after walking the first two batters of the seventh inning and the Yankees went to work on Alan Embree. Jorge Posada connected on a double to right-centerfield that scored Jason Giambi from second base. Hideki Matsui followed that with a sacrifice fly that drew the Yanks to 5-2, but that was as close as they would get.

Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings respectively to slam the door on a prospective Yankee comeback. Williamson earned a save for his performance.

Mussina (0-2) took his second loss of the postseason. He lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks while fanning four batters.

Jose Contreras made his postseason debut and struck out the side in the ninth inning.

Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.29), who helped the Yankees overcome a one-game deficit in the Division Series against the Twins, will get the ball for the second game against Boston. Derek Lowe (0-1, 0.93) will take the mound for the Red Sox as they look to take a two-game lead back to Boston.

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