Offense shows up just in time
NEW YORK -- Just when it looked like Nomar Garciaparra would ride off into the sunset and get hitched to arguably the best women's soccer player in history, the struggling shortstop finally joined Boston's postseason posse.
Garciaparra hopped on his white horse Wednesday afternoon, hollered "Cowboy Up!" and helped the Wild Card Red Sox extend the American League Championship Series to a decisive seventh game Thursday night.
It is difficult to tell which had been more surprising during the ALCS: Garciaparra batting .105 with no home runs and one RBI or the Red Sox being able to overcome those numbers and extend the series to six games with practically no offensive help from their No. 3 hitter.
But the Red Sox Nation can relax.
The All-Star shortstop went 4-for-5 in Game 6, including a triple that turned into a four-bagger because of a throwing error by Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui, and scored two runs.
The four hits were two more than he had in the first five games combined and there were all kinds of reasons why the team's star was having such a tough time. Reasons ranged from having a sore right wrist to next month's marriage to soccer star Mia Hamm.
Until Game 6, Garciaparra was MIA -- missing in action.
The breakout game was welcome from one end of the visiting clubhouse to the other and pretty much everywhere in between.
"It was terrific," general manager Theo Epstein said. I'm just glad I don't have to answer any more 'What's wrong with Nomar?' questions. For those who have seen him a lot, there's really no such thing as a slump. It's just putting off the inevitable.
"There's always a big game right around the corner with him. We kept saying it's just a matter of time. And today, we were out of time if we lost, and it came."
If Garciaparra was worried that he'd never get another important hit this season, he didn't show it. He actually fed off what the rest of the team has been doing during this magical postseason run -- fighting off lose-and-go-home games four times.
"I get a lot of confidence and a lot of support from my teammates," he said after the series-saving 9-6 win at Yankee Stadium. "All I've done is go up there the same as I have been, hopefully get good pitches and put the bat on the ball. I was able to do that today."
He singled to right in the first inning, bounced into a force out in the third and scored, singled to center in the fifth, tripled and scored on Matsui's errant throw in the seventh, which ignited a three-run rally and gave Boston a 7-6 lead, and singled in the eighth.
Nice day. His postseason batting average went from .105 to .250.
"That's why they call it a batting average," second baseman Todd Walker said. "It averages out if you play long enough. The downside of the playoffs is that you start from zero.
"But we have him busted out now and we're off and rolling."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League baseball or its clubs.