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  Sat, October 9, 2004


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Bring on the Yankees!
By BOB ELLIOTT, TORONTO SUN

Boston -- MEMBERS of the Red Sox Nation were going over -- and over and over -- the pitch-by-pitch details of the seventh inning. All the better to be able to recite the sequence to their grandkids.

Then with two out in the bottom of the 10th, David Ortiz, the cuddly cartoon character who is all smiles and line drives in billowed pants, hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster for an 8-6 win.

The Anaheim Angels had rallied to tie the game after being down 6-1 with nine outs remaining. Frankie Rodriguez was hooked for lefty Jarod Washburn to face Ortiz with a runner at first.

Ortiz hit the first pitch into the night to give Boston the win at Fenway Park and a sweep in the best-of-five American League Divisional Series.

"I wasn't thinking home run, I was begging," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I looked at Kevin Millar and said 'Can he hit a home run here?' As soon as the words were out of my mouth, he hit it."

Now, the Sox await an opponent. There isn't any doubt as to who they want to play.

KICK YOUR BUTTS

"Go Yanks!" read the front-page headline of yesterday's Boston Herald. The kicker read "We want to kick your butts on our way to the Series."

Talk radio shows demanded a New York Yankees win over the Minnesota Twins last night. For someone waking up, you had to check the area code on the phone to see what city you were in. Bostonians never cheer for the Yanks.

The Sox should be careful what they wish for: The MetroDome or the Bronx Zoo? The Twins or the Yanks? The Sox want the Bronx Bombers so they can avenge last year's Game 7 loss in the American League Championship Series in the 11th inning.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia decided to remove reliever Rodriguez after 2 2/3 innings last night.

"Frankie was in a high pitch count and we thought he was getting tired," Scioscia said. "We thought we'd err on the side of caution and go with a lefty against a left-handed hitter. Frankie was stretched to the limit."

Johnny Damon said he knew the Sox would get a good at-bat from Ortiz but "we didn't know it would be a homer."

The Sox had looked home and cooled with the 6-1 lead. Then Bronson Arroyo walked Jeff DaVanon.

Out popped Francona with a spring in his step not seen since his days as a rookie with the Montreal Expos when he had two good knees.

Francona lifted Arroyo after only 91 pitches. Over managing? Mike Myers walked pinch hitter Alfredo Amezaga and was gone. Mike Timlin, who hadn't allowed a run in 12 post-season innings, got an out and allowed a run-scoring single to David Eckstein. Timlin walked Darin Erstad after being ahead 0-2 with two outs to load the bases.

Vladimir Guerrero then ripped a grand slam to right-centre to tie the game as 35,000 stomachs churned.

"I was definitely worried after the grand slam," Damon said. "If (Anaheim) had won, we have an early game (today) and maybe a trip to the coast."

Where would Francona's early hook have fit in Sox history had Boston lost?

Behind manager Joe McCarthy playing a hunch and starting journeyman Denny Galehouse in a one-game playoff in 1948 against the Indians instead of rested ace Mel Parnell? The Sox lost.

In front of manager Dick Williams choosing Jim Lonborg on two days rest in Game 7 of the 1967 Series? The Sox lost.

Surely, it would not top Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in the game in the eighth inning last season with a 5-2 lead, then watching the Yanks rally for a tie before winning 6-5 in extras.

Another reason why the Sox want to see the Yanks.

Like moths to a flame.