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Marlins ride Beckett's brilliance



Special to ESPN.com

Oct. 25

NEW YORK -- He's always been cocky. He's always been brash. And now he's a World Series champion.

Josh Beckett pitched the game of his life to beat the Yankees in Game 6 of the World Series. Without a doubt, he was the most compelling story of this World Series.

Josh Beckett
Josh Beckett was at his best in silencing the Yankees in Game 6 of the '03 World Series.

He had total command of his three pitches -- fastball, changeup and curveball -- and thus, the Yankees really had no chance against him the entire game. He consistently threw his fastball in the upper 90s, his changeup in the high 80s and his curveball in the upper 70s. The pitch that was most impressive was his curveball. Simply put, it was an unbelievable pitch.

Beckett also consistently stayed ahead in the count, forcing the Yankees away from their usual game of patience and working the count. The Yankees had their first batter reach base in four of the nine innings against Beckett, but they didn't advance a runner past second base the entire game. In all, Beckett struck out nine while walking two in throwing a complete-game, five-hit shutout.

To see Beckett rise to the level he did in the postseason -- and especially the World Series -- is truly remarkable. But everything about him spells greatness. He has a great delivery, tremendous explosion once he releases the ball and absolutely no self-doubt. It never dawned on him that he would be anything less than spectacular in this game.

And as for pitching on three days' rest, heck, it didn't affect Beckett in the least. He showed what a true ace he was in this game. And while he's always shown great ability, he grew up a great deal in the month of October and is now at a level few other pitchers are in the game.

But while he was named the Series MVP, I believe Alex Gonzalez should have earned the honor.

Gonzalez's walkoff home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to win Game 4 got the Marlins back in the Series, tying it at two games apiece. And then his single with two outs in the pivotal fifth inning of Game 6 started the rally that eventually won the game for Florida. He also made a brilliant slide to just avoid the tag of Jorge Posada to score the all-important first run of the game.

And while Gonzalez stepped up big for the Marlins and Beckett was simply sensational in this game, I must say the most amazing thing I saw in this game was Mariano Rivera pitching in the eighth inning with the Yankees losing. Yes, he needed to be in the game at that point because the Yankees were desperate to hold down the Marlins, but you don't ever expect to see the great Rivera appear in a game when the Yankees are losing.

There's no doubt the Yankees will make changes in the offseason. How much change remains to be seen. As for the Marlins, this is an amazing success story. No prognosticators in their right mind ever could have thought Florida would be world champions when the season began. But that's why this postseason was so great -- because the unexpected so often became reality.

And the reality is the Marlins pulled off a great stunner. What an amazing story it is.






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