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Yankees set for ALCS sequel10/10/2004 1:11 AM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Back in March, the Yankees and Red Sox squared off in a preseason game that was billed by fans simply as "Game 8."
Tuesday night, the two heated rivals will meet at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, playing for the AL pennant for a second consecutive season.
"It's going to be nuts," said manager Joe Torre. "We played them 19 times, and last year, it was the last series. I anticipate it's going to be the same kind of emotional rollercoaster. I guess it was supposed to come down to this."
"I never thought I'd be so happy to see them," said Gary Sheffield. "I'm excited to have a chance to go to the World Series."
Boston took 11 of 19 meetings from New York this season, but all statistics can be thrown out the window come Tuesday. The Yankees wrapped up an emotional four-game series on Saturday against the Twins in Minnesota, while the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Angels at Fenway Park on Friday.
Both teams will be well-rested and ready for anything, which is good, considering that anything can happen when these two clubs take the field together.
"This is what everybody drew up back in Spring Training, so now we'll get to see what it's all about," said Sheffield. "When [Curt] Schilling went to Boston and A-Rod came here, this is what everybody wanted to see. Now, we'll give it to them."
Several key players from last year's Yankee team are gone, most notably Aaron Boone, whose 11th-inning walk-off home run gave New York its 39th American League pennant. In his place is Alex Rodriguez, who was this close to wearing a Boston uniform this winter before the deal fell apart, eventually leading to his trade to New York.
"We know Boston and they know us as well as any other team," Rodriguez said. "It's going to be a great challenge. I know they're going to come out ready, and so are we.
"My mission's not complete yet," he added. "I'm on my way."
This year's season series featured several memorable moments, from Bill Mueller's stunning walk-off home run against Mariano Rivera to the Yankees making Pedro Martinez call them his daddies. Then of course, there was the bench-clearing incident on July 24, which many believe sparked Boston's second-half run.
"We knew before the first pitch was ever thrown this season that the potential for this matchup was there," said Tony Clark. "We fought for six months and ended up exactly where everybody expected we would end up. Now, we want to put ourselves in the position to take the next step."
Mike Mussina will get the start on Tuesday night, but the rest of the Yankees' rotation is still unknown. Jon Lieber will likely take the ball in Game 2, while Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez and Orlando Hernandez could be in the mix for Games 3 and 4.
"They're not a good club, they're a great club," said pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre. "They're very tough, they've got great pitching at the top of their rotation and a great-hitting lineup. We'll have our hands full and they'll have their hands full with us. It will be a great series like it always is."
Yankees vs. Red Sox. Winner goes to the World Series. Again. Could it be any bigger?
"We knew we were going to have to go through Boston to get to the World Series," Sheffield said. "We're ready for the task."
"It's a whole new level, but we've gotten a taste of it," said Derek Jeter. "The stakes are higher, but in terms of the atmosphere, everyone here is prepared."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.