In the final start of his Hall of Fame career, Roger Clemens allowed three runs in the first inning last night, and Florida made it hold up until the ninth, when Ugie Urbina coughed up a 3-1 lead to send the game into extra innings. Ruben Sierra had the key knock, smashing a two-out, two run triple which scored Bernie Williams (who continues to sizzle at the plate with four hits) and Dave Dellucci.
Aaron "All-or-Nothing" Boone had a golden opportunity to put the Yankees ahead in the 11th with the bases loaded, one out and the infield drawn in. But in one of the worst at bats in what is a continuing series of awful at bats, Aaron Boone--swinging for the fences like his name was Alfonso Soriano--whiffed. John Flaherty then popped out to third to end the threat.
The drama climaxed in the 12th when the slumping Alex Gonzalez roped a line drive just over the low fence in the left field corner for a walk-off homer. Jeff Weaver, working his second inning, after not having pitched since the regular season, allowed the tater. (How many Yankee fans were shouting, "I told you so?") Where was Gabe White, or Chris Hammond or a guy named Rivera? The Marlins won 4-3, and now, the Serious is tied at two games apiece. This was a game that Florida had to win, and just when it looked as if they were going to waste a brilliant performance from Carl Pavano, they fought back and earned the victory.
Inspite of a noble comeback--Sierra's at bat was particularly memorable--the Yankees once again wasted scoring chances, and paid for it.
This was a thrilling game, but one that must have left Yankee fans muttering to themselves as they tossed and turned and tried to fall asleep. Peter Gammons notes:
This pitching matchup and game as a whole will no doubt be looked at as one of the more amazing World Series games ever played. Add in the fact this game ended on a walk-off home run by Gonzalez, and it's easy to see this night was truly something special.
If the Yankees lose the World Serious, they will look at this game as the one that got away. Larry Mahnken opines:
And now you can see the Marlins winning this series, maybe. Their next two games are against lefties, David Wells and Andy Pettitte, and the Marlins kill lefties, for the most part. They're unlikely to sweep--I think they're unlikely to win either game, but they can, and then it goes to Game Seven, and Josh Beckett. And when you've got a pitcher like Beckett on the mound, you've got a chance to win. Florida snuck away with one today, because Pavano pitched great, Clemens had one bad inning, and Joe Torre made some foolish decisions. But once again, a win's a win, and both teams now have two.
Ralph Terry was redeemed, as was Mariano Rivera, and Byung-Hyun Kim, sort of. But Ralph Branca and Mitch Williams were not. Gonzalez's HR wasn't as big as those, and won't be remembered as those were--even in South Florida, were they've already forgotten that the Marlins won last night--but if the Yankees lose this series, Jeff Weaver will become a pariah in New York, and he'll have to live with the thought that he cost his team the World Series, just like Buckner was blamed for costing the Red Sox the World Series. But just like Buckner, his mistake didn't lose the series, and it didn't lose a win. And just like Buckner, Weaver shouldn't have been in there. If the Yankees lose this series, I hope people remember that. Joe Torre set him up to fail--there was nothing to be gained by having him in that situation, and everything to lose. He shouldn't have been in there.
Mariano Rivera never made into the game, and the Yankees were left wondering "What if?" Tonight, Boomer Wells goes against Brad Penny, and the Yankees must win.