No team in Major League Baseball history has emerged from a 3-0 deficit in the postseason. If the Sox are to make the World Series for the first time since 1986, they will have to be the first to accomplish that lofty feat.
"We have to do what's never been done in Major League baseball history and that's come back from a 3-0 deficit," said Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon. "We're all professionals here. We know our backs are definitely against the wall now. We're going to come out and play hard and hopefully play good. Hard sometimes doesn't cut it. We've got to hit, we've got to pitch and play our very best baseball of the year for, hopefully, these next four games."
Since the LCS shifted to the best-of-seven format in 1985, five teams have led 3-0. The first three went on to record sweeps. But the last two teams (the 1998 Padres and 1999 Braves) were stretched to six games before prevailing.
"It's as big a hole as you can dig yourself, but obviously, you're going to keep fighting them and try to dig your way out of it," said Red Sox right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who gave up six hits and six runs over two-plus innings. "What else are you going to do?"
In a slugfest that set several League Championship Series records (including most runs and hits in an individual game), the Sox simply couldn't match New York's wallop. The 19 runs by the Yankees set a record in their postseason history.
Every Yankees star seemed to come up big. Alex Rodriguez scored five times and had three hits, two doubles and a homer. Gary Sheffield was 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs. And the man who hurt the Sox most was Hideki Matsui, who was 5-for-6 with five runs, two doubles and two homers.
"It's like they've got a certain gear right now," said Damon. "They're playing the best we've seen them play all year. It wasn't fun."
The Sox were hoping to get a big outing out of Arroyo, but he couldn't get anything established.
Kevin Brown (two innings, five hits, four runs) wasn't much better for the Yankees, and the game was actually tied at 6 after three.
But the Yankees seized control in a big way from there, putting the Sox on the brink of elimination.
It all comes down to Sunday's Game 4 for the Red Sox, as they try to put a stop to the Yankees' express. Since their loss to the Twins in Game 1 of the Division Series, the Yankees have won six in a row. The Sox will put their season in the hands of sinkerballer Derek Lowe. The Yankees counter with Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who is making his first outing of the postseason.
As for turning points in Game 3, Javier Vazquez did what no Boston reliever could do in the early going. He stopped the bleeding for the Yankees, earning his first win of the postseason. Ramiro Mendoza took the loss.
The Sox badly wanted to jump out first, but the complete opposite happened. Derek Jeter led off with a walk and Rodriguez promptly doubled him home. With one out, Matsui crushed a two-run homer to right, putting the Sox in a 3-0 hole before they stepped to the plate.
A first-inning threat ended for the Sox when Manny Ramirez was thrown out at third trying to take an extra base on David Ortiz's single.
Trot Nixon / RF
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
But the Sox came roaring back against Brown in the second. Trot Nixon drilled a two-run homer to right, bringing Boston within one. Later in the inning, Damon tied it up with an infield hit off the glove of Yankees second baseman Miguel Cairo. And Jeter made an uncharacteristic bobble on a Ramirez grounder, putting the Sox in the lead for the first time in the series at 4-3.
"I was hoping after we took the lead back, I could click and find a rhythm and keep us in the ballgame. It didn't happen," said Arroyo.
The lead was gone in just three pitches, as A-Rod blasted a 2-1 pitch over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street. Before the top of the third was over, the Yankees were back in the lead at 6-4, thanks to an RBI single by Bernie Williams and a balk by Mendoza.
This game was positively zany in the early going, as the Sox bounced right back in their half of the third. With Vazquez in for New York, the Sox loaded the bases with one out. Orlando Cabrera got two runs home with a double into the gap, but a potential third run (Bill Mueller) was cut down at the plate.
The Yankees had what looked like a game-turning inning in the fifth, loudly breaking the 6-6 tie with five runs. The biggest hit came from Sheffield, who roped a three-run homer off Curtis Leskanic.
Tim Wakefield / P
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Running out of options quickly, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who was scheduled to start Game 4, volunteered for bullpen duty. Red Sox manager Terry Francona took him up on it, but Wakefield gave up five hits and five runs over 3 1/3 innings.
"It's a pretty potent lineup over there," said Wakefield. "I don't know why it happened the way it happened tonight. It was one of those nights where no matter what you threw up there, they fond holes and got hits. They were just better than we were tonight, that's for sure."
Overall, the Sox pitching staff was tagged for 22 hits. All 19 runs were earned. They issued five walks and gave up four home runs.
"Put it this way," said Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace. "It will be a sleepless night for a lot of reasons."
Sunday, the Sox will look for some form of redemption.
"It's never fun being down 3-0, but there's still hope," said Wakefield. "We've still got a chance."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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