The Red Sox batted .302 and scored 25 runs in the three games, the last two coming on a series-clinching walk-off homer by the neatly bearded David Ortiz, who looked not to heaven but to his rally-starting leadoff man when he said, "Thanks to you, Jesus."
With the Angels dispatched in short order, a rested Schilling, a career 6-1 pitcher in the postseason, could start three times if seven games were necessary against the Yankees. "I absolutely want to," Schilling says. He has, however, been plagued by a sore right ankle that has limited his effectiveness late in games. This season Schilling held batters to a .209 average through his first 75 pitches per outing, but they hit .310 thereafter.
And Schilling will face a Yankees lineup that does its best work late. New York prefers to grind out at bats against starting pitchers--on Saturday night Twins ace Johan Santana did not come out for the sixth inning after throwing 87 pitches on short rest--and beat up on bullpens. The Yankees have a major-league-record 64 come-from-behind wins this year, including a series-turning 7-6 win in ALDS Game 2, in which they trailed 6-5 with no one on base and one out in the 12th inning. Rodriguez tied it with a towering double off tiring Twins closer Joe Nathan, and two batters later Hideki Matsui hit a game-ending sacrifice fly. As Torre made his way out of Yankee Stadium that night, he shook his head and said, "I don't know what to say. What words are there for that? That doesn't take a backseat to any of the [other] ones we've pulled out."
With the double, Rodriguez became a made Yankee, accepted not by blood ritual but by the requisite big moment in October. He also won Game 4 in the 11th by lashing a double, stealing third without a throw and scoring on a wild pitch. "It's very satisfying," says Rodriguez, a career .361 postseason hitter. "I mean, I've always felt most comfortable in October, and I've played my best baseball in October. It's a fun time to play."
The Yankees and the Red Sox entered the ALCS having played each other 45 times over the past two years, with Boston winning one more game than New York. Before Boone hit his epic home run last year, each team had three wins and had scored 29 runs in that series. "I anticipate it's going to be the same kind of emotional roller coaster," Torre says. "I guess it was supposed to come down to this."
October is usually a time for pitchers, but sluggers thrived in this year's Division Series
Traditionally the playoffs are a time when fewer runs are scored than in the regular season and starting pitchers dominate. Not so in this year's Division Series, which had a high number of runs and homers per game (even higher than the season averages of 9.6 and 2.25, respectively) and only one starting pitcher lasting into the eighth inning (the Dodgers' Jose Lima, who shut out the Cardinals in Game 3). Here's a year-by-year look at the Division Series since it debuted nine years ago.
[This article contains a table. �Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Source: Elias Sports Bureau