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Monday, December 14, 2009
Boone's homer sends Yanks to Series

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Aaron Boone

It's easy to look back and say Grady Little made the wrong call.

We all know what happened: Pedro Martinez was left in, the Yankees tied the game and later Aaron Boone hit his home run off Tim Wakefield. Joe Torre cried in victory. Red Sox fans cried in defeat.

What would you have done?

Pedro was the best pitcher in baseball in 2003. He had led the American League with a 2.22 ERA. He had struck out 206 batters in 186 innings. He had allowed only seven home runs in 29 starts.

What would you have done?

Pedro took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth. He had allowed a home run and two singles in the seventh. He had thrown exactly 100 pitches. Pedro had allowed a .215 batting average against him that season. But from pitch 101 on, he had allowed a .298 average.

The Boston bullpen was not very good that year. Byung-Hyun Kim had actually led the team in saves, but wasn't even on the playoff roster. Mike Timlin was the only reliever with an ERA under 4.00. Alan Embree? Scott Williamson? Maybe Wakefield, the knuckleballer?

What would you have done?

Embree and Timlin had been pitching well in the series (neither would allow a run in a combined 10 innings). Both had pitched the day before; Embree throwing 18 pitches, Timlin 15. Williamson -- a guy with an ERA over 6.00 in 24 games with Boston during the regular season -- had somehow become the team's closer and had three saves in the series. He had also pitched the day before.

What would you have done?

Pedro Martinez was on the mound, the most dominating hurler since Koufax. The game was at Yankee Stadium. The crowd was loud.

Martinez retired Nick Johnson on seven pitches. Derek Jeter -- always Jeter, it seems -- doubled to right. Ten pitches. Bernie Williams singled in Jeter. Fifteen pitches. Hideki Matsui doubled to right to put runners at second and third. Eighteen pitches -- 118 for the game.

Jorge Posada coming up. Switch-hitter.

What would you have done?
-- David Schoenfield

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