As Aaron Boone's walk-off homerun trailed into the New York night, the Yankees finally regained some of the magic that they seemed to have lost in this postseason. Mariano Rivera was his dominating 1996 self and new heroes emerged from everywhere. In a game almost too amazing to have actually happened, the Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox by a final score of 6-5, in 11 innings, to clinch a World Series berth.

Boone wasn't even in the lineup to start the game. Due to his recent struggles and the way that Enrique Wilson usually hits Pedro Martinez, Boone was riding the pine to start. But in the bottom of the eighth inning, Boone was called on to pinch run for Ruben Sierra – who was a pinch hitter himself – and it was his first at bat of the game that he used to hit the game-winning homerun. It was the first pitch that he saw from Tim Wakefield and, as he trotted around the bases, Mariano Rivera went out and collapsed on the mound in euphoria.

Rivera pitched three scoreless innings – the first time he'd pitched that many innings since 1996 – to shut down the Boston bats that had knocked out Roger Clemens early in the game. Rivera earned the victory for his efforts, as well as the ALCS MVP award.

The Yankees and their fans were feeling downtrodden as the Boston bats made some early noise. Trot Nixon hit a long two-run homerun off of Clemens in the second inning to give the Sox a 2-0 lead. After Jason Varitek doubled one out later, Wilson threw away a routine grounder to give Boston another run.

Kevin Millar homered to lead off the fourth inning and further knock the wind out of the Yankee sails. Clemens then issued a walk to Nixon and a single to Bill Mueller to cause Joe Torre to come out of the dugout to pull the Rocket – possibly for the last time.

With runners at the corners and nobody out, Torre called on an unlikely pitcher, Mike Mussina. Mussina, 0-2 in the ALCS, was absolutely clutch striking out Varitek with a nasty curveball and getting Johnny Damon to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Bringing in Mussina was just one of the many strange managerial moves on both sides of the field. Another was the batting order for the Yankees, which featured the slumping Jason Giambi shifted all the way down to seventh. Giambi responded to the motivational move by crushing a homerun to centerfield in the fifth, his first of two on the night.

The slugging lefty's first homer put the Yanks on the board, but his second homerun gave them new life. With two outs in the seventh, Giambi unloaded on another pitch that he sent into almost the same spot in centerfield, bring the Yankees to within two runs.

After Mussina pitched three innings of two-hit relief – the first time he'd pitched in relief in his 13-year career – , Torre brought in Felix Heredia to get the first two outs of the seventh inning. Jeff Nelson finished the seventh and got the first out of the eighth before giving way to none other than David Wells. Wells' first pitch was promptly sent into the right field seats by David Ortiz, pulling the Red Sox lead back to three runs.

But the Yankees came roaring back in the eighth inning, pulling out clutch hit after hit to come all the way back. With one out, Derek Jeter doubled to right field. Bernie Williams followed with a single up the middle to make the score 5-3.

Boston manager Grady Little came out with the intention of pulling Martinez from the game, but Pedro talked his coach into letting him stay in and finish the inning. Martinez had been pitching a gem up that point, but Little's choice to leave him in was questionable, especially after the game ended up being tied.

Hideki Matsui pulled a Pedro offering down the right field line and into the corner where it was touched by a fan for a ground-rule double. With two runners in scoring position, Posada hit a looper into shallow centerfield. Three Boston fielders converged on the ball, but none could catch it and the game was tied.

Little came out to finally retrieve Pedro and brought in Alan Embree to face Giambi. Giambi flied out for the second out of the inning. Mike Timlin then came on and intentionally walked Sierra, the pinch hitter for Wilson. He then walked Karim Garcia to load the bases for Alfonso Soriano, who was 0/4 with four strikeouts thus far. Soriano grounded the ball sharply up the middle, but it hit off the pitcher's mound and over to second base for the final out of the inning.

With the score knotted at five, the game went into extra innings with Rivera on the mound for the Yankees. Wakefield entered the game in the tenth and retired the side in order before starting the eleventh by giving up the homerun to Boone.

As Boone rounded the bases with his arms in the air, the Yankees mobbed the field. Most of the players went to greet Boone at home plate where there was much rejoicing, but Rivera went out to the mound and collapsed into a combination of laughter and tears.

Later Rivera would tell reporters that it was the greatest game he'd ever played in.

It certainly was.

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