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Yankees short hops
10/13/2004 1:26 AM ET
NEW YORK -- Pick your plot line.

A pitcher flirting with perfection, a massive comeback, a heartwarming tale of triumph over adversity. The Yankees and Red Sox compressed an entire soap-opera rivalry into nine innings Tuesday night, an episode won by New York without benefit of a cliffhanger ending.

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The Yanks raced out to an 8-0 lead in Game 1 of the ALCS, and Mike Mussina was in the middle of it all. The right-hander retired 19 straight batters, coming within eight outs of history. When he fell, though, he fell hard. Boston rapped five hits and five runs in the seventh inning, and Mussina was on the hook for four of each.

The Sox eventually closed to within one run, and the home team had to turn to one of its hurting heroes. Mariano Rivera had been dealing with deaths in the family for the last few days, and he didn't even arrive to Yankee Stadium until the second inning. Still, in the eighth, New York needed him.

Rivera did what he's done countless times before -- he battled out of two jams and turned an uncertain situation into a sure thing. That was that: a game for the ages and a new chapter in the most frenzied rivalry in all of sports.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 1 of the ALCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 7.00 they pitched to the score
BA .389 seven of nine starters had a hit
Runs 10 against Schilling? Unreal
Fldg % 1.000 they made all the plays

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Mariano Rivera 1 SV, 0.00 ERA long day ends in familiar fashion
Hideki Matsui .600 BA, 2 2B, 5 RBI man of the moment

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Miguel Cairo .250, 0 R, 0 RBI lineup's lone limp bat

Behind the numbers
Both of the game's key doubles could've been caught. When David Ortiz doubled to left field, Matsui was under the ball at the wall, but he wasn't able to catch it. Likewise, in the eighth, Manny Ramirez had a chance at a deep drive by Bernie Williams, but he wasn't able to make the leaping grab.

Frozen moment
Ninth inning, tying run at the plate. Two men on, one man out. Rivera's been in that situation thousands of times before, but none with the emotional weight he carried Tuesday night. No matter: The closer coaxed a ground ball back to the box and started a 1-6-3 double play to end it all. After that, he stood in line for some healing hugs from his teammates.

Slick move
After sticking with Tom Gordon against David Ortiz, Joe Torre brought Rivera in with the tying run on third base and four outs to go. Rivera got out of one jam with a popup, then closed down the ninth for an emotional save.

Almost perfect
Don Larsen, rest easy. Mussina's bid for perfection ended with one out in the seventh, when Mark Bellhorn doubled to deep left-center. Matsui gave a great effort, but he had no chance to make the play.

Modern history
Matsui's five RBIs tied an ALCS record, done most recently by Adam Kennedy in 2002. New York's left fielder had a late chance to break the mark, but he popped up to shortstop with two runners on in the eighth.

Famous faces
Hollywood was covered Tuesday night, with Jack Nicholson, Billy Crystal and Penny Marshall sitting in the crowd. Matthew Modine slipped past the paparazzi, but Jay-Z caught a few flashbulbs on his way inside the stadium. Magnates made the cut, too: Robert Kraft and Donald Trump took in the sights.

Last word
"All of those people who say you sit in the dugout and it's so calm? You didn't want to be there tonight."
-- Torre, talking about all the emotional swings in the 10-7 win

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

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