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Yankees short hops
10/17/2004 3:09 AM ET
BOSTON -- From here on in, every one's a must-win.


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After an exhausting night at Fenway Park, this series has entered new territory. The Yankees can advance to the World Series with one more victory, while the Red Sox are fighting to simply keep their season alive. Chew on this: No team in the history of baseball has come back to win a best-of-seven playoff series after falling behind by three games.

Of course, if there's going to be a first, it might as well be in this series. These two teams have shared a lot of history over the last 80-plus seasons, and Saturday night added another page to their cluttered scrapbooks. Run after run crossed the plate, and hit after hit drove them in.

What comes next? Who knows? We're still trying to process Saturday night, which saw the two teams combine for an astronomical amount of pitches -- 412 -- to be precise.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 3 of the ALCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 5.00 ugly yet irrelevant
BA .377 off the charts
Runs 32 simply astounding
Fldg % .991 one error, no problem

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Hideki Matsui .600, 1.267 SLG, 2 HR, 10 RBI absolutely incredible
Alex Rodriguez .429, 5 R in Game 3 call him the catalyst
Gary Sheffield .667, 4 RBI in Game 3 unstoppable?

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Kevin Brown 0-0, 13.50 ERA bad-news Brown

Behind the numbers
Somewhere, the official scorer sits shell-shocked, rocking back and forth like Leo Mazzone. This one made arcade games seem realistic. Several records were broken, including the combined marks for runs (27) and hits (36) in an ALCS game. Two Yankees -- A-Rod and Matsui -- tied the all-time postseason record with five runs scored.

Frozen moment
The game was tied -- and then it wasn't. Sheffield blasted the game-breaking shot, a three-run homer in the fourth inning. At that point, it was just 9-6 and anyone's game. But the Yankees kept scoring, and the Sox got quiet for a couple innings. That silence proved deadly, and the Yanks took a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

Slick move
The Yankees went to Javier Vazquez early and stuck with him after a rough inning of work, one in which he allowed two runs and threw more than 30 pitches. Vazquez ended up throwing 96 pitches to get 13 outs, neutralizing Boston while the road team took a commanding lead. Esteban Loaiza got up in Vazquez's first frame -- if Joe Torre had a quicker hook, they'd probably still be playing.

Modern history
Bernie Williams set three career LCS records with a three-hit night on Saturday. He passed Pete Rose in the hits department (47), George Brett in total bases (77) and David Justice in RBIs (29). It took him 37 games to reach those totals, and the Yankees have never lost an ALCS during his tenure.

Last word
"It's just one of those games. You have them every once in a while, but you don't have them in the playoffs." -- Don Mattingly, New York's hitting coach.

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


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