10/15/2003 8:21 PM ET
Red Sox offense finds its groove
16-hit attack sends series to seventh game
NEW YORK -- As soon as the merry-go-round started up Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, it was to the advantage of the Boston Red Sox, who were holding on for dear life.
And now this wild ride of an American League Championship Series is headed for a decisive Game 7, thanks to the American League's best offense finding its groove just in the nick of time for a 9-6 victory over the suddenly reeling Yankees.
Going toe to toe with the Bronx Bombers, Beantown's bashers turned Wednesday's elimination game into a microcosm of their season, turning their never-say-die, everybody-hits mentality into a 16-hit attack that overcame and then overwhelmed the Yankees.
And now it's down to the ultimate elimination game for both teams, with Boston's Pedro Martinez and New York's Roger Clemens facing off again in what will shapes up to be a classic Game 7.
This ALCS had been a wild ride mainly for non-baseball reasons, though also for the momentum swings that had heads spinning all the way up to Game 5. But it wasn't offense that made it wild, not until Tuesday night.
After five games of uncharacteristically quiet hitting for both clubs, the bats came out Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees entered the game batting .194, which would have been the worst ALCS average since Cleveland hit .193 in 1997 against Baltimore. The Red Sox were batting .250, but spread the hits out instead of bunching them and relied on the home run more than they did in the regular season.
But that all changed Tuesday night, and suddenly it was a Red Sox-style game. Starting with Jason Varitek's solo shot to the upper deck in left field and capped with Trot Nixon's two-run shot to the upper deck in right, the Red Sox used the long ball -- but they didn't rely on it. They pieced together 13 other hits in between, including five in their four-run third and four in their three-run seventh.
You could credit the windy conditions somewhat, but there's also the fact that some good hitters finally found their strokes. Right at the top of that list, of course, was Nomar Garciaparra, who doubled his hit total from the first five games with a 4-for-5 night at the plate.
With two of the best pitchers of our generation going in Game 7, offense no doubt will be at a premium -- but whichever team gets anything going against the opposing ace will very likely win out.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By John Schlegel / MLB.com