Mussina and Matsui set up victory for Yankees
NEW YORK: Mike Mussina retired the first 19 batters he faced and Hideki Matsui drove in five runs as the New York Yankees opened the American League Championship Series with a wild 10-7 win over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
Mussina pitched a perfect game for 6 1/3 innings until Mark Bellhorn belted a double to deep left field for the first Boston hit, with the Yankees leading 8-0. The Red Sox went on to chase Mussina and score five runs in the seventh and got to within 8-7 before the Yankees scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to get some insurance.
New York won the AL East by three games over the wild card Red Sox in the regular season, with the teams now meeting in a rematch of last year’s classic seven-game ALCS, won by the Yankees on a home run by Aaron Boone in the 11th inning. Game Two of the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday, also at Yankee Stadium and New York manager Joe Torre expects more of the same. “Each game is going to be an emotional roller coaster.” he said. The Yankees mauled Boston starter Curt Schilling for six runs on six hits in just three innings, scoring a pair of runs in the first and four runs in the third.
Matsui had an RBI double and Bernie Williams drove in another run with a single in the first inning for the Yankees, before the four-run third inning chased Schilling from the game. A three-run double by Matsui off the right field wall made it 5-0 and the Japanese outfielder later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jorge Posada for the final run off Schilling. “Anytime Matsui is hitting behind you, you want him to give him a chance to get up there to the plate, especially with men on base. He’s been our bread and butter hitter in the playoffs.” Yankees right-fielder Gary Sheffield said of his team mate. Kenny Lofton added a solo home run in the sixth for the Yankees and Matsui provided another run-scoring single later in the inning to make it 8-0.
Boston Rally: Boston finally got to Mussina in the seventh, scoring five runs after Bellhorn broke up the perfect game. Kevin Millar had a two-run double for the Red Sox and Trot Nixon cashed in another run with a single, to take Mussina out of the game. Tanyon Sturtze came on in relief of Mussina and promptly allowed a two-run homer to Jason Varitek, but struck out Orlando Cabrera to end the threat. David Ortiz hit a two-run triple off Tom Gordon in the eighth to make it 8-7, but Mariano Rivera came on to get the final out of the eighth and the last three in the ninth to get the save. In between, Bernie Williams added a two-run double in the eighth to make it 10-7 and complete the scoring.
“My team mates needed me there. When I went to the bullpen in the fifth inning, I was ready,” said Rivera, just hours after flying back from his native Panama to attend the funeral for two of his relatives. Mussina wound up allowing four runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking none. Matsui had three hits and also scored a pair of runs for New York, while Sheffield had three hits and scored four runs. Ortiz had two hits and two RBI for Boston. “It was a little bit surprising, but they can come back with the best of them,” Williams said of Boston’s rally. reuters