- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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The Big Finish: New York scored twice in the bottom of the 13th to win 5-4. Alex Rodriguez tagged third and threw home for a double play in the 11th, and Derek Jeter sprawled into the stands for a catch in the 12th to keep the Yankees in the game as they finished a three-game sweep of the Red Sox.
The Big Deficit: The Red Sox are now 8½ games behind the Yankees in the AL East; the Yankees have never relinquished a first-place lead that large.
The Big Absence: The Red Sox are floundering and losing sight of the Yankees. Despite Boston's increasingly desperate situation, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was out of the lineup; Garciaparra reportedly indicated to the team he was sore. A divorce between Nomar and the team could be coming soon, because the relationship might be irreconcilable.
The Big Gaffe: The awful situation with Garciaparra is part of the huge fallout resulting from Boston's failure to complete the negotiations for Rodriguez in December. The Red Sox dole out about $750,000 per day in payroll, and yet they allowed the A-Rod deal to break up over a difference of about $2 million per year.
The Big Shot: After Gary Sheffield twice called time and stepped out of the batter's box in the first inning, Pedro Martinez shook off a couple of signs from catcher Jason Varitek -- then nodded yes to an inside fastball and smoked Sheffield in the middle of the back. Sheffield was furious, shouting back at Martinez, "Not me!" Both teams were warned thereafter, and any retaliation will wait for another day.
Big Desperation: With the Yankees and Red Sox tied 3-3 after 7½ innings, Boston manager Terry Francona went to closer Keith Foulke to start the bottom of the eighth.
The Big Intrigue: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner says he is looking for a pitcher, but he might want to give another start or two to Brad Halsey, the composed rookie lefty who pitched effectively Thursday night: two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Halsey's three starts have been in Los Angeles, against the Mets, and against the Red Sox, and he seems at ease, moving the ball inside and outside. It's more likely, however, that the Yankees will get a veteran starter.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," will be released later this summer, and can be pre-ordered through HarperCollins.com.
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