Game 1 wrapup: Red Sox 5, Yankees 2
NEW YORK -- To get to the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox leaned on ingredients such as pitching and heart. Missing in action for much of that riveting Division Series triumph against the Athletics was the explosive offense, which merely set an all-time Major League record for slugging percentage and extra-base hits during the regular season.
That all changed Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, as the Sox got their sock back, blasting three homers against Mike Mussina and producing 13 hits in all, rolling to an impressive 5-2 victory in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series.
"After that series in Oakland, we were certainly due, and tonight we were able to get some big hits," Sox manager Grady Little said.
The Sox will not be forced to rally back from an 0-2 deficit against the archrival Yankees, like they did against the A's.
Instead, they took all that momentum from their Game 5 clincher in Oakland some 3,000 miles to the East and made an opening night statement at The Stadium, yielding just three hits to the Bronx Bombers.
There haven't been many nights Yankee Stadium was this quiet for an October evening. The Red Sox silenced the place.
"This placed was jammed to the rafters," reliever Mike Timlin said. "It was an awesome feeling, a playoff feeling. It was great."
There's an old adage that momentum is only as good as the next night's starting pitcher. If that's true, veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield threw one momentum-charged knuckleball after another, flattening the groove the Yankees got in after taking their last three games against the Twins.
And while Wakefield (six-plus innings, two hits, two runs) set the tone early for the Sox, the bats took it from there, doing their fair share of walloping after hitting a meager .211 in the ALDS.
On a night leadoff man Johnny Damon was out of the lineup recovering from a concussion, every Sox starter but Nomar Garciaparra and Gabe Kapler had at least one hit.
Garciaparra wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's been like that all year," said the star shortstop. "I've been saying that from Day 1. We're here not because of one or two individuals, but because of every guy."
Leading the bat brigade was cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez, who went 4-for-5 -- including a homer -- in the stadium that is just miles from the neighborhood (Washington Heights) where he grew up.
"Oh yeah, everybody was hitting good," said Ramirez. "Today is over, tomorrow's a new day."
And the Sox can only hope Ramirez takes the same type of swings in Game 2 against Andy Pettitte he took off Mussina.
The four hits matched Ramirez's total in the Division Series.
Is Manny getting locked in?
"I hope, I hope, I hope," Ramirez said. "I hope I can (keep swinging) the bat good."
Todd Walker, leading off in place of Damon, went 2-for-5 with a homer; David Ortiz, who batted .095 last round, launched a two-run homer; Trot Nixon and Kevin Millar each had two hits.
Mussina didn't have the same command he's had against the Red Sox so many times in the past.
"He always pitches good against us," Ramirez said. "Today, I don't know what happened."
Whatever happened, the Sox will take it.
After walking two in the second and getting out of the jam unscathed, the veteran right-hander got into immediate trouble in the third. Ramirez opened with an infield hit. Then came Ortiz, who took a 3-2 pitch from Mussina and hammered it into the upper deck in right for the first two runs of the series.
For Ortiz, it was not only the first postseason homer of his career, but his first hit in 21 career at-bats against Mussina.
"I'm not going to go 10 years without him getting any hits," Mussina said. "Sooner or later, he was going to get on a ball."
Walker led off the fifth with a similarly towering blast, this one right toward the foul pole in right. The ball appeared to hit a fan leaning out of his seat, but television replays were inconclusive as to whether there was interference.
Initially, it was called foul by right field umpire Angel Hernandez, but home plate umpire Tim McClelland quickly ruled it a home run.
"It was a tough call, but the umpire made the right call," Millar said. "It hit the foul pole."
It was Walker's fourth homer this postseason, tying him with Garciaparra (1999) for most long balls hit by a Boston player in a single playoff.
This clearly was not Mussina's night. Two batters after Walker's shot, Ramirez lofted an opposite-field homer to right to make it 4-0 Sox.
The way Wakefield was going, the Sox were in good shape. He was baffling the Yankees to the same degree as he did on Sept. 6, when he twirled seven scoreless innings in an 11-0 romp.
"He showed why he's one of our pitchers that we rely on a lot," said Doug Mirabelli, who, as he always does, caught Wakefield. "He was on his game. I knew coming into the game, (based on) the look on his face and the feel we had together when we walked in there. The first thing I said to him was, 'You're in a zone right now, you're right where you need to be.' He was like, 'I know.' "
Wakefield took a two-hit shutout into the seventh. He got himself into a mini-jam by issuing a pair of walks to start the inning, and then he exited after 91 pitches.
With Alan Embree on in relief, the Yankees finally got on the board. Jorge Posada greeted the hard-throwing lefty with an RBI double to right-center and Hideki Matsui followed with a sacrifice fly to left. But Embree shut it down from there, getting consecutive flyouts to center.
Mike Timlin (no hits allowed in these playoffs) worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Scott Williamson finished it off in the ninth with his first postseason save and first in a Red Sox uniform.
The Sox will try to keep the momentum on their side Thursday night when Derek Lowe faces Pettitte in Game 2.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.