Make no mistake
Yankees in control after errors by Boston, umpires
Posted: Monday October 18, 1999 01:50 AM
Not again: Jimy Williams argues the first of two controversial calls with umpire Tim Tschida. AP
BOSTON (AP) - Eighty-one years of anger and frustration rained down on the field at Fenway Park on Sunday night.
Fed up by the Bambino's curse, Buckner's curse and more blown calls by umpires, Boston fans interrupted New York's 9-2 victory by throwing bottles on the field as the Yankees took a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series.
While the Yankees moved within a win of their third trip to the World Series in four seasons, the game will be remembered not for their victory, but for the fan ugliness that caused an eight-minute delay in the bottom of the ninth inning after New York had broken open the game with six runs in the top half.
"That's not a safe situation," said Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, again in the middle of a blown call in favor of New York. "You have to have eyes all over the place. It's a shame, but the umpires did a great job of getting us off the field."
Pitcher Bret Saberhagen's bungled catch at first base allowed New York to take a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning, one of four errors by the Red Sox, who must now win three straight to reach the World Series for the first time since 1986.
Still, the Yankees led by just a run going into the ninth before breaking open the game, mainly due to Ricky Ledee's grand slam off Rod Beck.
"To be able to keep them from going 2-2 with us, it was huge," said Andy Pettitte, who allowed two runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings in winning his third straight postseason start. "I think we feel real confident about tomorrow. I'm sure El Duque's going to throwing a great game for us. Hopefully, we can close this thing out."
The Yankees try to wrap up their record 36th AL pennant on Monday night, when Orlando Hernandez pitches against Boston's Kent Mercker in a rematch of Game 1 starters.
Without Pedro Martinez, who threw seven shutout innings Saturday in Boston's record 13-1 rout, the Red Sox went back to their old, bumbling, ways.
And with New York clinging to its 3-2 lead in the eighth, a second-base umpire blew a key call for the second time in the best-of-7 series.
Mariano Rivera, who got the win in Game 1 and the save in Game 2, relieved after Jose Offerman reached on an infield hit with one out in the eighth -- Knoblauch fumbled the hard-hit grounder to second, then threw wide of first base.
But second-base umpire Tim Tschida called Offerman out, thinking he was tagged.
"I didn't make the right call," Tschida said. "It appeared to me as though he got him."
In the series opener, second-base umpire Rick Reed failed to call Knoblauch for dropping a throw, admitting he made an incorrect call when the right one would have given Boston two on and no outs in the eighth inning with the score tied. Bernie Williams' 10th-inning homer won it.
"We feel like it's being taken away from us," Boston's Darren Lewis said. "We don't know why."
After that, the Yankees broke it open in the ninth. Offerman's throwing error allowed Knoblauch to score from third and Williams followed with an RBI single off Rich Garces for a 5-2 lead. Ledee then homered off Beck.
When Nomar Garciaparra was called out on a bang-bang play in the bottom of the inning, Boston manager Jimy Williams saw all he could take. He threw his cap during the argument with first-base umpire Dale Scott and was ejected.
Williams refused to go to the interview room.
"It's quite regrettable. I'm sorry it happened," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. "The excitement level is pretty tremendous. We've been treated beautifully by Boston up to this point.
"He really incited it," Steinbrenner said.
Yankees players and staff were furious with the fans' behavior.
"I think it's inexcusable," New York manager Joe Torre said. "Not that Jimy Williams did what he did. I'm a manager. I understand the frustration that goes on inside. ... But to have people throw stuff, that's disgraceful, it really is. I know it's not an indication of Boston, Massachusetts, because I've been around the city now for four years and it's shown a lot of class to me. But tonight was a bad mark against a very good team."
Yankees wives were escorted from the ballpark by police, and New York reliever Jeff Nelson got involved in a shouting match with a Red Sox security official.
"The head of security for the Red Sox was screaming at my players about staying in the dugout," Torre said. "That was a disappointment, they showed absolutely no class whatsoever."
Even Red Sox players were angry with their fans.
"We're sorry for the way we acted," Boston's Mike Stanley said. "That's not right, not right at all."
The game's turning point came when a grounder to first killed the Red Sox in a postseason game against a New York team once again.
After falling behind 1-0 on Darryl Strawberry's second-inning homer -- a drive off the screen attached to the Pesky Pole down the right-field line -- the Red Sox tied it in the bottom half on Troy O'Leary's RBI single and went ahead on Offerman's run-scoring single in the third.
But the Yankees' turnaround started with the next batter. John Valentin doubled off the Green Monster in left, and Williams picked up the ball and made a quick relay throw to Derek Jeter, who threw out Offerman at the plate.
Williams reached on an infield single with one out in the bottom half, and took second when Garciaparra's throw from shortstop bounced into the Boston dugout -- his fourth error of the series.
Tino Martinez followed with a game-tying double to right-center, with the 2-2 score on the old manual scoreboard in the Green Monster matching the score of the NLCS game, then in the 14th inning.
Saberhagen walked Strawberry intentionally after falling behind 3-0 in the count, and Scott Brosius struck out, bringing up Chad Curtis.
He hit an easy grounder to Stanley at first, who made the throw to Saberhagen, covering the bag with plenty of time to spare.
But as Saberhagen stepped on the base while trying to catch the throw, the ball popped out of his glove and fell to the field, allowing Martinez to score from second.
"I was looking down at the bag," Saberhagen said. "I didn't watch it all the way in."
Thirteen years ago, the Red Sox lost Game 6 of the World Series to the Mets at Shea Stadium when first baseman Bill Buckner allowed Mookie Wilson's 10th-inning grounder to roll through his legs. That, as much as the trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, has become a symbol of Boston's failure to win the World Series since 1918.
With that, the Red Sox once again are on the brink of failure, their hated rival about to gain yet another title.
"It," Pettitte said, "was a very emotional game."
Notes: It started raining minutes after the game, but weathermen predicted it would stop before game time Monday. ... When Jeter batted in the first, fans chanted: "Nomar's Better!"Before Strawberry homered, fans were chanting "Just Say No!"a reference to his past problems with drugs and alcohol.
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