The New York Yankees placed themselves in an ideal position, sending out their twenty-game winner, and post-season hero, Andy Pettitte at home with a chance to finish their arch-rival off and advance to the Fall Classic. This all versus a man, thirty-eight year-old John Burkett, who is 0-6 with a 8.49 ERA lifetime ERA against them in his career.
It seemed a sure bet that Jeter and Co. would slam the door.
Andy Pettitte was handed a 1-0 lead after Jason Giambi riffled an offering from Burkett into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the first. Based on the way the left-hander has pitched, it seemed the Bronx would soon be celebrating another AL pennant. That was far from the truth.
The Sawx cashed in four runs during the third, beginning with a solo shot by Jason Varitek down the leftfield line. RBI singles by slugger David Ortiz and Johnny Damon put Boston on top with a three-run cushion.
Yet, there is a simple problem: this Beantown team isn't the one that so many have come to know since 1918. They enjoy every minute, possess the never give up attitude, and act like they have not a worry in the world. Even, of course, down three games to two entering Yankee Stadium on the threshold of elimination.
That's when Grady Little's boys decided to hop on their horses and run away with Game 6 and a force a dream Game 7.
Nomar Garciaparra, who entered 2-for-19 in the series and with just one RBI for the entire playoffs, tripled to lead off the seventh against Jose Contreras, but Hideki Matsui, fielding it off the wall, air-mailed it into seats on the third baseline allowing the Boston shortstop to score.
Manny Ramirez followed with a double off the centerfield fence, moved up on a wild pitch, and scored the tying run on David Ortiz's single that hit the first base bag. After a Bill Mueller single, Contreras was lifted in favor of Felix Heredia who would soon load the bases with an intentional walk to Varitek.
Heredia then proceeded to issue a four-pitch walk to Johnny Damon, pushing home David Ortiz and allowing the Red Sox to gain a 7-6 advantage. They would never relinquish it.
Trot Nixon would saddle up one last time, launching a two-run missile into the right field upper deck as Gabe White watched hopelessly from the mound.
New York has seen its fair share of historical sports nights, and Thursday night's Game 7 under the bright lights of the Bronx is guaranteed to be an epic battle between fierce enemies.
Two sure first-ballot Hall-Of-Famers, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, dueling it out for the rights to gain way into the 2003 World Series. The latter quite possibly making the final start of his brilliant, yet controversial, career.
Mr. O‘Neil: "If you are the Yankees, you don't want to go to a Game 7. Too many things can happen."
But it did.
Now we'll just have to wait and see.
Analyst Christopher Guy covers New York baseball for both NYMFansOnly.com and PinstripesPlus.com. You can contact him at CGGuy86@Yahoo.com