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Yankees short hops
10/19/2004 1:53 AM ET
BOSTON -- Unbelievable. That's the only word that comes to mind.

You've never seen anything like this because nothing like this has ever happened before. The Yankees and Red Sox have played the two longest ALCS games in history on consecutive nights. The Sox won both, becoming just the third team in history to stave off elimination with two extra-inning wins.

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Now, the series stands at 3-2, Yankees, with the series returning to Yankee Stadium. What once looked like a cakewalk, a certain sweep, has turned into anyone's event. Both teams are drained, emotionally and physically, but they still have their goals plainly laid out for them.

The Yanks are one win away from returning to the World Series for the seventh time in the last nine years. The Red Sox are two wins away from becoming the first team in postseason history to win a seven-game series after falling behind 3-0.

Who will succeed on their given mission? Considering the unpredictable action in the last few days, your guess is as good as anyone's.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 5 of the ALCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 4.53 tough luck losers
BA .316 (67-for-212) hits dried up
Runs 40 (4 in Game 5) simply not enough
Errors 3 (1 in Game 5) irrelevant

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Ruben Sierra .412, 3-for-5 in Game 5 Sierra grande

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Tony Clark .200 (1-for-7 in Game 5) one key hit

Behind the numbers
New York's pitching staff was solid early and scary late. Sixteen of Boston's 25 runs have come in the sixth inning or later, setting up a great deal of drama. The Red Sox got both of their wins in dramatic fashion, coming from behind off the best closer in the game and outlasting the defending AL champs.

Frozen moment
History saw this coming. Bases loaded in the sixth inning, two outs, Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead. Pedro Martinez was about to throw his 100th pitch, and Yankees icon Derek Jeter was in the batter's box. You know the rest. Jeter, who had been 0-for-3, cleared the bases with a flare to right field. It went for two bases, and he cruised into third on an unsuccessful throw home.

Slick move
With one out in the seventh inning, Boston had the go-ahead run at the plate in the form of Manny Ramirez. New York took the ball from Tanyon Sturtze, handing it instead to Tom Gordon. Ramirez has hit under .200 against Gordon over his career, and he hit into a threat-ending double play on Monday night.

Modern history
Despite the loss, the Yankees have made the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, and they've gone to the World Series seven times over that span. That's the longest postseason streak in franchise history, even if it trails the Braves by three full years. That's pretty impressive, but you have to track back a half-century to find the most successful stretch in postseason. Between 1949 and 1964, New York went to the World Series 14 times, netting nine rings in the process.

Last word
"I don't know. You tell me. We're going home. That's all I can say." -- Jorge Posada's curt response to a question about which team has the momentum

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

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