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  Sun, October 17, 2004


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Just like '03, Red Sox in a world of hurt
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

How did the Boston Red Sox celebrate the first anniversary of one of their most painful losses? By suffering one of their most humiliating losses ever.

It wasn't pretty.

A year ago last night the Sox had a three-run lead and were five outs away from eliminating the New York Yankees to reach the 2003 World Series. They eventually lost.

And last night they were whomped like a rented mule who had kicked its handler. There was only three innings the Yankees didn't score in -- and they didn't go down 1-2-3 until the sixth inning -- in a 19-8 romp over the Red Sox to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

It's win today for the Sox -- after stinking up Fenway Park so badly last night it will have to be fumigated -- or it's see you in Fort Myers some time in mid-February.

No team has recovered from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven post-season series.

"We have to show up (tonight) and try to win the next game, we can't look at the big picture," a dejected manager Terry Francona said.

Francona used tonight's scheduled starter Tim Wakefield in the fourth inning, which means Derek Lowe will start in his place against Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez.

"We got ourselves into a bind, we were in the fourth inning and we were on our fourth pitcher, we had to go to Tim Wakefield," Francona said. "When we win Game 4 it will be because of Tim Wakefield. He allowed us not to use Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke."

Not using two relievers is exactly what Sox fans had in mind as their team returned to Fenway after going 1-for-37 (.028) in the first six innings of Game 1 and Game 2 at Yankee Stadium.

While the Sox did hit the ball -- 15 hits in all -- the Yanks hit it harder.

Was batting practice at 5 p.m. or at 8:20 p.m.?

Tough to tell.

"You never know what is going to happen when you have back-to-back days off, I don't like one day off," Yanks manager Joe Torre said. "I'm not surprised we're up, but I'm surprised at how many runs we scored. We knew that Boston beat us most of the time this year.

"The Cleveland Indians scored 22 runs against us (during a regular-season game), that didn't mean we were a bad team. Just as it doesn't mean Boston is a bad team."

Every New England child over the age of 10 remembers the details of that fateful game a year ago last night. How the eighth painfully unfolded.

With one out, Derek Jeter doubled to right off Pedro Martinez.

The mood in Boston began to change. People screamed at the TV: "Get Pedro outta there."

Boston manager Grady Little didn't budge.

Next, Bernie Williams singled to centre bringing in Jeter.

Now, fans in bars threw peanuts and whatever else was handy at the TV yelling: "GRADY! Wake up!"

Little didn't move. Neither did the pitch from Martinez. Hideki Matsui doubled Williams to third.

Again, Little remained in the dugout and Martinez remained on the mound.

A couple of Boston fans wondered if they made the four-hour drive to New York would Martinez still be on the mound.

It was too late. Jorge Posada doubled to centre scoring both Williams and Matsui.

Now, they were ordering doubles in Boston. Tie game.

Now, Little made his second trip. Now, Pedro was done.

Tim Wakefield saw his first pitch of the 11th inning hit to left by Aaron Boone, who danced around the bases with his game-winning homer.

Wakefield walked off, head down, into the clubhouse and cried.

Game 7. ALCS. Oct. 16, 2003. R.I.P. Yanks 6, Sox 5.

Game 3. ALCS. Oct. 16, 2004. Almost R.I.P. Yanks 19, Sox 8.

Which was worse?