|© 2004 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
History on the line in New York10/20/2004 3:20 AM ET
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Boooong, boooong, boooong. The bell was droning.
Trailing, 0-3, in a best-of-seven series has always sounded a death knell for the defeat-afflicted team.
No such team ever has come back to win the series. No one, though, has gotten closer than Boston.
When the Red Sox downed the Yankees, 4-2, on Tuesday night to even the series at 3-3, they became the first 0-3 team to force a postseason series into a seventh game.
They became the 26th Major League team in postseason history to fall behind 0-3. None survived.
Will they make history?
"We're extremely tentative to say what we're about to accomplish," outfielder Gabe Kapler said.
"But I think what we've accomplished this far is the story at this point. Obviously, history shows that this doesn't happen very often. And what's been special about it is the fashion in which we've won games. It hasn't been easy. It never has been easy for us. I'm just so proud of my teammates right now. I think a lot of guys are proud of one another."
Not very often, indeed.
When the Red Sox won the 14-inning marathon Monday night at Fenway Park, they joined an elite group. Only two other teams, the 1998 Braves and the 1999 Mets, had forced a sixth game after losing the first three.
The Padres ousted the '98 Braves, 5-0, in game 6 of the NLCS. The next year the Braves bumped the Mets, 10-9 in 11 innings, in the same scenario.
Now the Sox stand alone.
But they want to go one step further.
"Just to make new history," center fielder Johnny Damon said, "and that's the motivating fact for us. The loser is not going to be happy."
Somebody was bound to do it, in left fielder Manny Ramirez's view.
"There's always a team that's going to make history out there," Ramirez said. "So we're going to keep playing like we did today. We're going to play a hard nine innings, and if we keep playing this way, good things are going to happen for us."
The Red Sox have taken a strange route to this juncture. They labored for 12 innings to win, 6-4, in Game 4. Then they went 14 innings to win, 5-4, to take Game 5. Then they won Game 6 4-2 on a home run by Mark Bellhorn that originally was ruled a double.
"The key is everybody is relaxed, everybody is picking each other up. You don't have to be hitting .700, you just do little things for the other guys to come through," Ramirez said.
"Like Bellhorn today, he's hasn't been hitting that well but he's the MVP tonight and we're just happy he was mentally ready for the game."
And the best part of all this for the Red Sox is they could make history against their arch rivals, the Yankees.
"We've been asked many times before when we were making the playoffs, 'Who would you rather play? Does this have to go through the Yankees? Is it going to be a letdown if it doesn't?'" Kapler said.
"And we continually said, 'No.' But probably we should have continually said, 'Yes.'"
Pitcher Curtis Leskanic knows that it's not over until it's over.
"You know the old saying, 'Close but so far.' We're right there and I'm not really thinking about it. If you could've seen in the clubhouse tonight, we celebrated real quick and went to our lockers because we know the job is not done yet," he said.
"Three games against the Yanks is tough, you know, especially in an atmosphere like this," Leskanic said. "But tomorrow is it."
It surely is and there's a chance to make history.
"Shock the world," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "We've got a chance to shock the world."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Red Sox Homepage | MLB.com