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McKeon on Wild Card three-peat
10/28/2004 11:20 AM ET
MIAMI -- Not only did the Red Sox end an 86-year-old curse on Thursday night, they extended the string of success for Wild Card teams.

"The trick now isn't winning the division, it's winning the Wild Card," joked Marlins manager Jack McKeon.

Wild Card winners have captured three straight World Series titles.

In 2002, it was the Angels. And last year, of course, the Marlins shocked the world by taking the title without claiming their division.

It's more coincidence that Wild Card teams are claiming the big prize. But McKeon notes, it comes down to which team gets hot at the right time.

"I was rooting for the Cardinals because they are in the National League," McKeon said. "You look at that Cardinals' lineup and are impressed. But you look at the Red Sox and thought, 'Who's going to stop them?'"

A year ago, the Marlins relied on outstanding pitching, stellar defense and timely hitting to win the franchise's second World Series championship.

The Red Sox proved power hitting and standout pitching can be a winning formula. Boston's defense was less than spectacular, especially after they committed a combined eight errors in the first two games. They still won because they were able to record key outs when they needed them.

"No question, it's nice to have pitching and defense," McKeon said. "But you've got to get some runs. You get three or four runs, and the Red Sox will still beat you. You need balance. Everybody knows we (the Marlins) need some hitting."

Because the Red Sox have home run potential up and down their lineup, they rarely used sacrifice bunts over the course of the season.

The Marlins, on the other hand, often would do what it took to advance runners, sacrificing often in the first inning.

McKeon says the makeup of the lineup determines how you manage.

"If I had the Red Sox lineup, I probably wouldn't bunt either," McKeon said. "I'd be up there whacking away. I think it's the type of brand you have in the American League. Guys are up there whacking away."

When the playoffs started, McKeon had a hunch the Astros would make it to the World Series.

"They reminded me of our club last year," McKeon said. "I thought they might slip through and go all the way."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.