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American League Championship Series Game 3
October 16, 2004 • Fenway Park, Boston

Yankees 19, Red Sox 8

Box Score

          1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9   R  H  E
___________________________________   _______

New York  3  0  3  5  2  0  4  0  2   19 22 1
Boston    0  4  2  0  0  0  2  0  0   8  15 0

The National Anthem After a day off for travel Thursday, Friday night's game was rained out. The ticket I had for Saturday's game was now for Game 3. Game 4 would be Sunday night as scheduled, and Game 5 would be Monday afternoon, if necessary. There'd be no other off-day before traveling back to New York for Games 6 and 7. I was sure we'd win this game. "They're not going down on my watch," I was telling everyone. I was ready to yell, scream, cheer, beg, and plead them to a victory. I met my friend outside Fenway well before the gates opened. There was still a light drizzle falling as we waited outside, collecting the "We still believe" buttons and "I'm an idiot too" bandanas that people were passing out. (Johnny Damon had been quoted as saying, "We don't worry if we're behind. We don't think about the score. We're just a bunch of idiots. We just go out there and play baseball.") We were able to get the tickets because we're Tenth Man Plan holders. The seats weren't our usual ones in the bleachers; instead we were in the loge box section in front of Section 3 in right field. Even though we were way out in right field, all loge level seats had the same price as the box seats behind home plate. Each of our tickets was almost as much as the whole ten-game package we had in the bleachers, but we didn't care! This was a postseason game, and I knew we'd win. I had been to two other playoff games, Division Series Game 4 in 1999 (Sox beat Cleveland 23-7 to stave off elimination) and Division Series Game 3 against Oakland in 2003 (Sox win on Trot's walk-off homer in the 11th to avoid elimination). This was my first ALCS game, and my friend's first playoff game. 1950's teammates and Red Sox legends Johnny Pesky, Dominic DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr reunited to throw out the first pitch. The Cowsills sang the National Anthem, then their 1960's hit "Hair", a tribute to the many 'dos sported by this year's team.

The teammates throw out the first pitch

The game matched Bronson Arroyo against Kevin Brown. Arroyo had outlasted Brown in a Patriot's Day showdown in April, and had had an excellent start in Yankee Stadium in September, but this time he had nothing. Derek Jeter walked to start the first, and Alex Rodriguez doubled him home. One out later, Hideki Matsui homered to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Manny Ramirez singled, and then was thrown out to end the inning as he inexplicably tried to go to third on David Ortiz's single. But the fans did not give up. In the second Jason Varitek walked and Trot Nixon homered into the right field stands just in front of the section I was in. We all chanted "Kevvv-innn, Kevvv-innn" at Brown. Bill Mueller doubled, and with two outs, Johnny Damon singled to knock him in and tie the game. Brown threw a wild pitch ("Kevvv-innn") and walked Mark Bellhorn ("Kevvv-innn") before Derek Jeter's error allowed the go-ahead run to score. It was 4-3 Sox.

Fans keep the faith The lead didn't last long, though. A-Rod homered over the Green Monster to tie it back up. Then Gary Sheffield walked and Matsui doubled, knocking Arroyo from the game. Ramiro Mendoza came in and balked in a run before getting out of the inning with the score 6-4, Yankees. In the third, Javier Vazquez came in to relieve Brown. Varitek led off the inning with a single, then with one out Millar doubled and Mueller walked, loading the bases. ("Javvv-yyy, Javvv-yyy," we all chanted. One guy near me even tried a "Who's your Daddy?") Orlando Cabrera hit a double deep to right. Varitek and Millar scored, but Mueller was thrown out at the plate. Damon grounded out to end the inning, but the Sox had tied it up again at 6-6.

Mendoza hit Miguel Cairo to start the fourth, and Curtis Leskanic came in from the bullpen, but he fared no better than the other pitchers. After Jeter flied out, A-Rod walked, and Sheffield launched a three-run homer, once again giving the Yankees the lead. After Matsui doubled, Leskanic was out, and Tim Wakefield came in. It was a strange move, because he had been scheduled to start Game 4 the next day. I figured that meant Derek Lowe would go instead, but he was already slated to fill in for Curt Schilling if the ankle injury did not permit him to start again. Now the rotation for the whole remainder of the series was up in the air! Wakefield was also unable to stop the bleeding. With two outs he intentionally walked Posada, but Ruben Sierra tripled home two more runs. Just like that it was 11-6. The following inning A-Rod and Sheffield each doubled home runs, and it was 13-6.

The media takes over the outfield grandstand Wakefield managed to hold the Yankees scoreless in the sixth, but in the seventh the pitching unraveled again. With two outs and runners at the corners, Alan Embree came on and gave up three straight hits, to Matsui, Bernie Williams, and Posada, scoring four more runs. The grandstand seats in Sections 3 and 4 right behind us had been turned into auxiliary seating for the media who had descended on Boston for the series. Every other row held a table, and they all had their laptops set up and notes strewn about. There was also an additional loudspeaker, over which were announced all the stats and game notes they needed for their stories. As each pitcher left, we heard them read his whole pitching line, and we also heard every record that was being broken that night. By the end of the night, Bernie Williams had set career LCS records for hits, total bases, and RBI. The 37 total hits by the two teams was also a record. The 19 runs scored by the Yankees was an LCS record, and was also the most runs ever given up by the Red Sox in a postseason game. It added insult to injury to hear them all announced over the loudspeaker. It was bad enough we had to watch this horrific game, we didn't need the pressbox announcer rubbing it in! If I was watching this at home, I'd have the TV on mute by now. We started booing every announcement of another record.

Fenway started emptying out in the seventh. But as depressing, demoralizing, and completely disturbing as this was to witness, I couldn't believe anyone would actually leave a playoff game early. Now more than ever, our team needed us to keep the faith. "Where's everyone going?" a guy in the next section over yelled. "Come back! GO DOWN WITH THE SHIP!" Those of us who did stay barely moved or talked to each other. We somehow mustered a cheer when Varitek's homer in the seventh made it 17-8. But it quickly became 19-8 when Mike Myers surrendered a two-run homer to Matsui in the ninth. When Trot Nixon made it to third base on a double and a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth, my worst fear was that the Sox would score ten more runs and end up losing 19-18. That was the only way this could get worse. A guy in the row behind me looked at the scoreboard and shook his head, saying, "It was that five-run inning that killed us." His friend agreed, adding, "And the four-run inning." I turned around and added, "And those two three-run innings." Someone in the section next to us was getting thrown out by security, and I said, "He's lucky. At least in the slammer he won't have to watch tomorrow's game."

The game finally ended at 12:30 am. At four hours and twenty minutes, it was the longest nine-inning game in postseason history. We hurried to the subway and caught the final Green Line train of the night. We switched to the Orange Line, but since it was the last train, we had to wait twenty minutes at every stop to make sure there was no one coming from a connecting train. By the time we got to my car, it was 1:45, and it was 2:30 when we got back to my friend's house. I didn't have the radio on in the car on the way there, but I didn't have to. I knew all they were saying was, "No team that's been down 0-3 has ever come back to win a seven-game series."

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