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Game balls: Rating Game 1
10/13/2004 12:47 AM ET
MLB.com is awarding "game balls" -- or, in this case, Wally the Green Monster to represent the Red Sox, and subway cars, in honor of New York City's mass transit system -- for performances in this year's American League Championship Series.

Let's see who took the express train and who hit the wall in New York's Game 1 close call against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.

Yankees
Five subway cars: Empty car, all the seats to yourself
Four subway cars: Smooth ride, even got a nap
Three subway cars: Had to stand, but life is good
Two subway cars: Got my jacket caught in the door
One subway car: Overslept; hot, crowded car; splitting headache

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Mike Mussina: Maybe he should get all the subway cars. It certainly appeared as if he were the only person on the field for the Yankees for 6 1/3 innings. Like a great composer, every move he made, every pitch he threw just seemed to follow the previous one naturally. It was a classic performance. It was perfect ... for 19 batters.

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Hideki Matsui: He hit a practically unhittable pitch to drive in the Yankees' first run and then came through with a three-run double that should have put the game out of reach in the third inning. He finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored and sent Manny Ramirez to the left-field wall in one of his other at-bats.

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Mariano Rivera: The Yankees were already dropping the hammer when Rivera arrived at the stadium after a long flight from Panama. After a very emotional trip for New York's closer, the Yankees were hoping he wouldn't have to be called upon to work. They waited as long as possible but have become dependent on his unique ability to slam the door. He did just that.

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Gary Sheffield: He got things started with his double in the first inning and finished with a pair of doubles and four runs scored. Nobody in the game swings harder and there aren't many batters around who are more imposing at the plate.

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Bernie Williams: Williams drove in the second run in the first inning and the final two runs in the eighth. He's not as feared as the first four guys in the lineup anymore but he still knows how to come through in the clutch.

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Tanyon Sturtze and Tom Gordon: Giving up a quick home run to Jason Varitek and a two-run triple to David Ortiz was not exactly what Joe Torre was hoping for in bridging the gap from Mussina to Rivera.

Red Sox

Five Wallys: Wave the Red Sox flag high and mighty
Four Wallys: Makes Red Sox Nation feel good
Three Wallys: The fur could use a little fluffing
Two Wallys: Might be time to dry-clean the outfit
One Wallys: You're stuck rallying the faithful in northern Maine

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David Ortiz : It wasn't a home run like the monster shot that ended the ALDS against the Angels, but Ortiz's big triple with two out in the eighth inning put the Red Sox just one run away from a full and amazing comeback.

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Mark Bellhorn: After an ALDS when he was about the only Boston batter not bashing away, Bellhorn came up big with one out in the seventh inning against Mr. Perfect, Mussina. If Bellhorn had not finally gotten things started, the Red Sox might have taken the slump into Game 2 and beyond.

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Jason Varitek: He may have gone 0-for-Yankee Stadium before, but his home run in the seventh inning made this game interesting again. Varitek does not like to talk about his home run hitting but he had two big ones in the ALCS last year and already has two big ones in the playoffs this year.

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Curt Schilling: Giving up six runs in three innings of Game 1 was not the reason the Red Sox went out and got Schilling for the top of the rotation. Maybe his ankle was still hurting but one thing is for sure, there are a lot more than 55,000 New Yorkers who are going to keep talking about that performance.

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Johnny Damon: Boston's leadoff man did whatever he needed to do to get on base in beating the Angels in the ALDS. There wasn't much he could do in his at-bats against the near-perfect Mussina. He struck out all four at-bats and the Sox really missed him not being on base.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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