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'The guts of a burglar'

Beckett baffles Yankees, earns World Series MVP award

Posted: Sunday October 26, 2003 7:17AM; Updated: Wednesday December 31, 2003 7:50PM
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  Josh Beckett
Josh Beckett tossed the first complete-game shutout in a World Series clincher since Jack Morris' 10-inning masterpiece in 1991.
AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Josh Beckett ran off the mound, picked up the ball and applied the final tag, the one that finished off the big, bad Yankees.

He pitched with the determined demeanor of a Bob Gibson or a Sandy Koufax and came up with the game of his life on baseball's grandest stage.

On a night that he'll always remember and New York will never forget, the 23-year-old right-hander led the Florida Marlins to their second World Series title Saturday night, beating the Yankees 2-0 in Game 6.

"Sometimes," he said, "less is more."

Two days, three days, four days, it didn't matter to him.

He didn't care how much rest he had, and that's why the Yankees now have the offseason to rest and the Marlins head home for a big party.

Beckett pitched a five-hitter that won him the World Series MVP award. He beat Andy Pettitte and looked like -- well, even better than -- those multimillion-dollar Yankees starters who grace magazine covers and get all the attention.

"We wanted to come in here, and that's who we wanted to play," Beckett said. "If you are going to beat somebody, why not beat the best?"

Now he and the Marlins are No. 1.

In the 100th World Series game played in Yankee Stadium and in the 100th anniversary year of the Series, the Bronx No-Longer-Bombers were eliminated from the Series on their famous field for only the seventh time, the first since their 1981 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

SI.com's John Donovan
Yes, it was one ugly World Series for the New York Yankees. Losing to the Marlins at home? Spending what, $180 million. For this? Ooooo, is The Boss gonna be hacked off about this one.
SPOTLIGHT
HERO: Josh Beckett
Pitching on three days' rest, the Marlins' 23-year-old ace threw the first complete-game shutout in a deciding World Series game since Jack Morris in 1991.
GOAT: Derek Jeter
The Yankees' captain is human after all. Jeter went 0-for-4 and his first error in 27 career World Series games allowed the Fish to tack on an insurance run.
CLOSER LOOK
Two strikes? Two outs? No problem. The Fish were clutch with a capital C throughout the World Series and Game 6 was a textbook example.
GO FIGURE
2 -- Managers who have led their teams to a title after taking over midseason: Jack McKeon and the Yankees' Bob Lemon in 1978.
2.13 -- ERA compiled by the Yankees, the lowest for a losing team in the World Series since the St. Louis Browns (1.49) in 1944.
17 -- Runs scored by the Marlins in the six games, the fewest for a winning team since Toronto had 17 in a six-game victory in 1992.
SERIES RECAP
• Game 1:  Pierre, Marlins run Yanks ragged
• Game 2:  Pettitte pulls Yankees even again
• Game 3:  After rain delay, Yanks pour it on
• Game 4:  Rocket takes bow; Fish win in 12
• Game 5:  Penny pinches N.Y. with arm, bat
• Game 6:  Beckett, Marlins finish off Yankees

And Beckett did it with just the 19th complete-game shutout in a clincher, the first since Minnesota's Jack Morris in 1991. He become the youngest pitcher to blank an opponent in a Series finale since 21-year-old Bret Saberhagen beat St. Louis for Kansas City in 1985.

"This guy has got the guts of a burglar," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "He's mentally tough. And I knew he had the confidence to go out there and do the job that he did tonight. This guy is going to be something special."

Beckett even got the final out all by himself. He scooped up Jorge Posada's little grounder and tagged him near first base. Beckett then pumped his fist and was hoisted onto his teammates' shoulders, thrusting his hands into the air, waving his glove with one and a new championship cap with the other.

After Beckett lost Game 3 on Tuesday night, McKeon started him on three days' rest for the first time in his major league career, which began a scant 25 months ago. Why take such a gamble with a young arm coming off a 108-pitch outing?

McKeon cited the two-hit shutout Beckett threw in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series, when the Chicago Cubs led Florida three games to one. And then there was his four innings of one-hit relief in Game 7 at Wrigley Field, when he pitched on two days' rest.

Beckett brought back memories Art Nehf, Johnny Podres and Lew Burdette, the only other pitchers to finish off the Yankees with Series shutouts, trusting his fastballs and breaking balls to anyone on any count. He struck out nine, walked two and threw 71 of 107 pitches for strikes.

"He was awesome," said Posada, who struck out twice,

Beckett didn't quite have the explosive fastball he owned in Game 3, when he topped 95 mph. But for the Yankees, his 94 mph fastball and curveball were too much.

"When you're that young, you don't know what fear is," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Born in Spring, Texas, not far from where Roger Clemens lives, Beckett looks like a little Rocket -- even wears his old number, 21. His stubbly dark goatee gave his boyish face some extra meanness, not that he needed it the way he pitched.

There was little indication during the season that Beckett had this in him -- he was 9-8 with a 3.04 ERA. But in the Series, he was 1-1 with 1.10 ERA.

New York got runners to second base just four times, and that's when Beckett was his toughest. With runners in scoring position, the Yankees were 0-for-7, leaving them at 7-for-50 in the Series.

With Posada on second and one out in the seventh, Beckett threw a 3-2 curveball to Karim Garcia for a called third strike. And then he got pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra to swing through an 0-2 fastball.

"I didn't think Josh Beckett would be able to do what he did," Pettitte said, "but he did it."

Beckett entered the postseason with 89 professional starts and no complete games.

Now he has two, both shutouts.

"I can't believe we don't have a game tomorrow," he said. "That's kind of the weird thing right now."

The big game was over, and now he had to figure out what was next. Already, he was looking ahead to his next big game.

"It's kind of a relief," he said, "to get to go deer hunting now."

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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