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Yankees open up on Red Sox10/17/2004 2:33 AM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Pitching wins championships, the old saying goes. But Saturday night, the Yankees showed that hitting can be pretty effective, too.
New York set several League Championship Series records in Game 3, pounding the Boston Red Sox in a 19-8 win to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven ALCS. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in LCS play.
"In a playoff game, this doesn't happen too much," said Derek Jeter of the offensive onslaught. "I'm sure you probably won't see it happen again."
The top five batters in the Yankees' lineup -- Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams -- combined to go 17-for-26 (.654) with four walks (a .700 on-base percentage). The five players accounted for nine extra-base hits, including four home runs (two by Matsui), driving in 15 runs and scoring 16.
"They had a lot of determination tonight," said manager Joe Torre. "I can't explain it. You don't teach anybody that stuff. It has to come from within."
Matsui went 5-for-6 with two homers, two doubles, five RBIs and five runs, becoming just the second player to record five hits in an LCS game. The Orioles' Paul Blair was the first to accomplish the feat, back on Oct. 6, 1969.
In the series, Matsui is hitting .600 (9-for-15) with two homers, four doubles, seven runs scored and 10 RBIs.
"He's cool under pressure, and I think that's probably the most important ingredient," Torre said. "We all know he's talented, we all know he's strong. He never gives away an at-bat. Knock on wood, he's huge hitting for us in the cleanup spot."
The Yankees established LCS game records for the most runs (19) and extra-base hits (13), tying the marks for most hits (22), doubles (8) and home runs (4). The game was also the longest nine-inning contest in postseason history, clocking in at 4:20.
Under Torre, the Yankees are now 22-0 in postseason games in which they have scored at least seven runs.
Kevin Brown lasted just two innings for New York, allowing four runs in the second inning after New York had taken a 3-0 lead, but Javier Vazquez pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief, letting his offense go to work for him.
"I just pitched terribly," Brown said. "The consolation prize is the fact that my effort didn't keep us from winning the game."
A-Rod tied the game with a solo shot to lead off the third, drilling a ball over the Green Monster and on to Lansdowne Street. Bronson Arroyo walked Sheffield, then Matsui doubled, ending the starter's day after just two-plus innings.
"We wanted to make sure we answered back in that inning, and that was a big home run just to tie it up," Rodriguez said. "We knew that it was going to take at least 10 runs to win that game at that point."
Ramiro Mendoza relieved Arroyo, but Williams singled in a run to regain the lead for New York, then Mendoza balked in another run to give New York a two-run cushion.
Vazquez's outing started off rocky, as he loaded the bases with one out, setting up Orlando Cabrera's double to right-center. Two runs scored to tie the game, but the relay throw home by Miguel Cairo nailed Bill Mueller at the plate, limiting the Sox to two runs in the inning. Boston had three baserunners thrown out during the game, costing the Sox three potential runs.
"They hurt themselves on the bases a couple of times," Jeter said. "Looking back, it's a big win with all the runs, but those were key outs at the time."
Mendoza started the fourth by hitting Cairo, prompting Terry Francona to bring in Curtis Leskanic. With one out, Leskanic walked A-Rod before Sheffield crushed a 1-0 pitch over the Green Monster, putting the Yankees ahead, 9-6.
"Jeet was talking about breaking this game open," Sheffield said. "It seemed like we were going to have to score every inning to win this ballgame. When I hit the home run, it took the crowd out of it a little."
Matsui doubled for his third extra-base hit of the game, ending Leskanic's night as the Sox brought in Tim Wakefield, who was scheduled to start Game 4.
Francona decided to intentionally walk the ice-cold Jorge Posada with two outs to put runners at first and second for Ruben Sierra, who responded by tripling to right-center, scoring two more runs to cap the five-run inning, as the Yankees took an 11-6 lead.
"It was huge," said Jeter of the five-run inning. "It was a close game at that point, so you want to give some breathing room to Javy."
Vazquez put up a zero in the bottom of the fourth, the first goose egg since the top of the second. But it didn't come easy, as John Olerud executed an unassisted double play, catching a line drive off the splintered bat of Jason Varitek and tagging David Ortiz before he could get back to first base.
New York added to its lead in the fifth, when Wakefield walked Jeter with one out before serving up back-to-back doubles to A-Rod and Sheffield, giving the Yankees a 13-6 lead.
The unthinkable happened in the bottom of the fifth, when Vazquez retired the side in order. Wakefield, not wanting to be outdone, tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.
"He looked like he was a little jumpy at first," Torre said of Vazquez. "But once he gathered himself, those zeroes he put up there were like gold for us."
The Yankees continued the onslaught against Boston pitchers, reminding some of an old game of Nintendo's "RBI Baseball." New York plated four runs in the eighth, highlighted by Williams' two-run double, extending the lead to 17-6.
"I think I was being too aggressive in that first inning," Vazquez said. "After that, I got a little bit more command and tried to stay back a little bit more. It feels good to contribute."
Sunday, the Yankees will have an opportunity close out the Red Sox, giving them six days to prepare for either Houston or St. Louis in the World Series. Orlando Hernandez will take the mound for New York, while Derek Lowe will get the start for Boston.
"It's not over yet, because they are certainly capable of winning ballgames," Torre said. "But to be up 3-0, I think we're surprised by the fact that we've done that."
"I'm not thinking about the World Series right now," Sheffield said. "I'm thinking about finishing these guys off in Game 4."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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