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American League Championship Series Game 1
October 12, 2004 • Yankee Stadium, New York

Yankees 10, Red Sox 7

Box Score

          1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9   R  H  E
___________________________________   _______

Boston    0  0  0  0  0  0  5  2  0   7  10 0
New York  2  0  4  0  0  2  0  2  x   10 14 0

The ALCS began in New York with Curt Schilling going against Mike Mussina. Schilling had pitched with an injured ankle for most of the season, but had appeared to have tweaked it in his start against Anaheim in the Division Series. The team downplayed that incident, and said he'd be ready to go. While the Red Sox went down in order in the first, Curt gave up two doubles and a single for a 2-0 Yankees lead. He had to stop several times between batters and re-tie his shoe, as if he couldn't get the ankle comfortable. Mussina retired the Sox 1-2-3 in the second and third, and in the bottom of the third the Yankees struck again. Two walks and three hits, including a three-run double by Hideki Matsui, made the score 6-0. It was clear that Schilling's injury was worse than he had let on.

The Sox went down in order again, then Curtis Leskanic came in to pitch the fourth and fifth. Tim Wakefield entered in the sixth. As the fourth starter, he hadn't pitched in the three-game Division Series, but he had been great in the past against the Yankees. This time he didn't have it, though. Kenny Lofton's homer and hits by Gary Sheffield and Matsui made it 8-0. Worse yet, the Red Sox still hadn't had a baserunner.

Then with one out in the seventh, Mark Bellhorn hit a double to left, breaking up the perfect game. Manny Ramirez grounded out, but David Ortiz singled, moving Bellhorn to third. Kevin Millar followed with a double off Matsui's glove, scoring both runners. After a passed ball, Trot Nixon's single scored Millar. Tanyon Sturtze came in to relieve Mussina, and Jason Varitek launched a homer into the right field stands. Suddenly it was 8-5, and the Red Sox were right back in it. In the next inning, Bill Mueller and Manny reached base, making Ortiz the tying run at the plate. He hit one deep to left, a couple of feet from going out and tying the game up. He wound up with a triple, and both runners scored, making it 8-7. Mariano Rivera was called in for the final out of the eighth. He had been in Panama attending the funeral of two relatives who had died tragically earlier in the week, and had just arrived back in New York during the third innning of this game. Even though he had blown saves twice against the Red Sox during the regular season, it made me nervous, because players always seem to excel in this type of situation after undergoing some sort of tragedy. It got worse, when Mike Timlin allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Sox managed to get two men on base in the ninth with Mueller at the plate. It was his homer off Rivera in July that had won a wild brawl game for the Sox. But tonight there was no magic. He grounded into a double play to end the game.

The final score wasn't the most disturbing thing. There were still six games left, and I remembered that last year the Yankees had dropped the opening game and gone on to win the series. And the late rally by the Sox had to have put a scare into the Yankees, and showed that the Sox were not going to go down easily. But the condition of Curt Schilling's ankle was definite cause for concern. It was upsetting because he had done so well all season long, and now here, in the very situation they had gotten him for, he was hurt. We had no idea whether he'd even be able to pitch again in the series. Without Curt, it would be a big uphill climb.

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