|© 2004 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Heart of the lineup carries Yanks10/17/2004 3:28 AM ET
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
BOSTON -- By the end of Boston Massacre II, after the New York Yankees had finished crunching numbers and Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, the truth was painfully obvious.
When this Bombers offense gets rolling downhill, it's best to get out of its way.
Green Monster, meet the 4-Headed Monster.
New York's 19-8, 22-hit annihilation was concentrated in the Nos. 2-5 hitters, a quartet which tendered the darndest collective performance anyone could ever recall in a championship-game setting.
"I've never seen anything like it," Reggie Jackson, properly wide-eyed, said in the visitors' locker room.
Reading from productive to just plain lethal, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams combined to:
None of this is a misprint.
"With this lineup, anything is possible," Sheffield said, after just about anything did happen. "We were so focused to keep scoring, because we thought they'd keep scoring."
In a game in which the first three innings took 105 minutes and produced 12 runs, both teams came out swinging.
When Boston answered New York's three runs in the first with four of its own in the second, Rodriguez determined that "it was going to take at least 10 runs to win that game."
Why stop there?
"These guys played nine innings tonight and they got the most out of every at-bat," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "I could not have been more proud of them."
The Fenway Park press box needed an auctioner to keep up with the blitz of record-breaking and tying announcements.
The Yanks and the Sox combined on the early assault on the record books.
Before there were two outs in the top of the fifth, they had set an all-time scoring record for a regulation-length LCS game at 19, with the Yanks leading, 13-6.
The 19 runs broke the record of 18 set in 1992 by Atlanta and matched in 2002 by Anaheim, both winners by 13-5 scores over Pittsburgh and Minnesota, respectively.
It also equaled the most runs scored in any LCS game, in the Braves' 10-9 victory over the New York Mets in 11 innings in 1999.
The Yankees took it from there:
"One of those games that happens once in a while," said Don Mattingly, the team's proud batting coach, "except you don't see it happen in the playoffs very much. And not against these guys."
The individual assault on the books was as stunning.
"It was all offense," said Sheffield (4-for-5, three runs and four RBIs). "Guys were working counts, laying off good pitches.
"Every time we scored, we said, 'Let's score some more, keep them from getting any momentum.'"
And every time Matsui came to bat, the scoreboard operator had to reach for a new number. Godzilla treated 'em like the Boston Rodans.
Tossed the familiar line about hitting being contagious, Sheffield said, "Matsui is contagious."
What became a jaw-dropping display of Yankees might actually have started out as a mutual, seesaw affront to pitching.
The Yankees did not move into a permanent lead until Sheffield's three-run homer in the fourth off Curtis Leskanic broke a 6-6 tie.
Leskanic was one of six pitchers used by Red Sox manager Terry Francona in a vain attempt to turn off the Yankees hitting hose.
They would include Tim Wakefield, who had been the probable starter for Sunday's Game 4 until the Red Sox's situation turned dire.
Wakefield came on a batter after Sheffield snapped the evening's last deadlock with his launch over the Monster seats.
Neither starter -- Bronson Arroyo of Boston, nor New York's Kevin Brown -- had a minute of calm.
The Yankees broke on top with three runs in the first, two of them scoring on Matsui's homer over the right-field bullpens.
Fighting his control, Brown gave the lead back, and then some, in the second. With Trot Nixon's two-run homer as the key blow, the Red Sox scored four runs to take a 4-3 lead -- their first of the ALCS.
That lead lasted about as long as it takes to cook a New York minute egg. Rodriguez led off the third with a prodigious tying homer, and the Yankees scored twice more in the inning on Matsui's double and a balk by Ramiro Mendoza.
"After they closed the gap so quickly, it was a big home run just to tie it up," Rodriguez said. "We got some momentum back."
Touche, Red Sox. They tied it at 6 in their half of the third on Orlando Cabrera's bases-loaded double against his former Expos teammate, Javier Vazquez, who started the inning in Brown's stead.
The tally for the first three innings:
Those dozen runs were a three-inning LCS record. And the eventual game-time of 4:20 set another nine-inning LCS record.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Yankees Homepage | MLB.com