Saturday, October 16, 2004
Updated: October 17, 3:42 AM ET
Bombs away in Boston
By Jim Caple
BOSTON -- You'll have to excuse any misspellings in this column. I'm in a bit of a hurry. I need to go call my insurance agent -- I think A-Rod's home run broke my car's windshield.
Not to suggest this was like a softball game, but the Yankees celebrated their 19-8 victory by going to TGIFriday's for buffalo wings while Ruben Sierra has to bring a 30-pack tonight for striking out in the fourth inning. (Based on their baserunning, the Red Sox evidently did their drinking before the game.) What a beating. The Yankees had 12 hits, 13 runs, 12 RBI, four home runs and five doubles -- and that was just from the No. 2-4 hitters in the lineup, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui.
Think about that for a minute. Three guys had a dozen hits and scored 13 runs. In a playoff game. What, did they get themselves back in a groove after Thursday's travel day and Friday's rainout by visiting children's hospitals and promising to hit home runs for all the sick kids?
"I think it's time to break out those 'Bronx Bombers' t-shirts again," an impressed Reggie Jackson said. "These guys are like a hurricane. Hurricane Yankee."
For once, Reggie isn't laying it on thick. No one has pounded the ball like this without Glenn Close watching from the stands and Robert Duvall typing away in the pressbox. Boston fans were so stunned by the onslaught that they began leaving the ballpark in droves during the sixth inning and those that remained could only offer up weak, ineffectual chants of "You Took Steroids" to Sheffield.
"It was a great compliment," Sheffield said. "Thank you, fans."
Those Sox fans felt so confident about their team's explosive offense that they forgot about the Yankees lineup, which scored nearly 900 runs and hit a club-record 242 home runs. They've driven home the point this series, scoring 32 runs in the first three games. "It's pretty much a case of pick your poison with their lineup," Boston center fielder Johnny Damon said.
"My philosophy and our team philosophy," Rodriguez said, "is to see how quickly we can get the score to 10 runs and see what happens."
Well, they got to 10 runs pretty quickly, scoring three in the first, three in the third and five in the fourth. They led 13-6 before finishing their at-bats in the fifth inning, and the 19 runs were the most ever scored in a championship series game and the second-highest total in postseason history.
Of course, the Red Sox know how to hit a little bit as well, scoring a league-leading 949 runs during the regular season and answering the Yankees blast for blast in the early innings. Trailing 3-0, Boston took the lead with four runs in the bottom of the second for its first lead in the series.
The lead lasted exactly one batter.
Rodriguez led off the top of the third with a home run hit so far that it may still be traveling. You know how the great Babe Ruth has him calling his shot in the 1932 World Series by pointing to the center field bleachers? If A-Rod had wanted to accurately call his shot, he would have had to get out a map and point to New Hampshire.
Rodriguez had three hits and five runs and he didn't have the biggest night of the three. Sheffield scored three runs and drove in four more, with three of them on a fourth-inning home run that gave the Yankees a lead they never surrendered. Matsui, meanwhile, had five hits, two home runs, two doubles, scored five runs and drove in five.
Like so many Japanese players, Matsui is always very humble in interviews, but his performance Saturday was so impressive that he said, "Even from my perspective, I think I had a pretty good night."
Matsui had a good but somewhat disappointing rookie season, but he was terrific this year, learning the pitchers and finding his power stroke. He hit .298 with 31 home runs and 108 RBI during the regular season and has 16 hits, 13 RBI, 10 runs and 10 extra-base hits this postseason.
"He's ice cold," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's cold under pressure, cool under pressure and I think that's probably the most important ingredient. We all know he's talented, we all know he's strong. He never gives away an at-bat."
Reggie called the top of the Yankees lineup the best since the days of the Big Red Machine. Whether the Yankees are truly that good is debatable -- Boston's pitching has been atrocious -- but the pre-game pitcher/catcher meetings to go over New York's lineup can't be much fun.
"Whatever plan you lay out anytime, sometimes it's executed and sometimes it's not," pitching coach Dave Wallace said. "And if it's not executed against a club like that, they make you pay."
Runs scored one night don't carry over to the next, of course, but the Yankees did the next best thing by completely wearing out the Red Sox pitching staff. Boston was forced to use six pitchers, including scheduled Game 4 starter Tim Wakefield. The Yankees will go for the jugular Sunday night against previously scheduled Game 5 starter Derek Lowe and a bullpen so depleted that Sam Malone might be the first pitcher used in relief.
"It will be a sleepless night for a lot of reasons," Wallace said.
The Yankees are just one win from their 27th World Series appearance and -- aw, nuts. You'll have to excuse me. Matsui's second home run just knocked out my computer's hard drive.
|Hideki Matsui's bat did the talking in Game 3 as he went 5-for-6 with two home runs and five RBI.|
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.