Martinez tires after too many pitches
They held him back so he would be rested. They left him in when he struggled, knowing he was still their best hope.
And when he pitched out of a seventh-inning jam to protect a 5-2 lead, it looked as though Martinez had delivered another playoff clincher for the Red Sox.
The big mistake was letting him come back out in the eighth.
Martinez ran out of gas after 123 high-pressure pitches on Thursday night, allowing four consecutive hits as the Yankees scored three runs that inning to tie Game 7 of the AL championship series and eventually won it 6-5 in 11 innings.
In another stadium on the other side of the city, 17 years ago, the Red Sox lost another chance at a championship. Manager John McNamara took Roger Clemens out after seven innings in Game 6 of the World Series, the Boston bullpen imploded and Bill Bucker's black hightops became a part of baseball history.
The New York Mets won the Series, and the Red Sox haven't been back since.
This time, a Boston manager left his ace in too long.
Martinez cruised through the first six innings before giving up Jason Giambi's solo homer with two outs in the seventh. He gave up two more singles but then struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the inning.
David Ortiz hit a solo homer in the eighth to give Boston a 5-2 lead.
Back in Boston, workers had already painted the World Series logo on the grass at Fenway Park. Fans were lining up outside to buy Series tickets, confident that nine decades of Red Sox futility was coming to an end.
With Boston five outs away from finally beating the Yankees, Derek Jeter doubled with one out and scored on Bernie Williams' single. Hideki Matsui hit a line drive down the right-field line, and a fan touched the ball for a ground-rule double that put the runners at second and third.
Boston manager Grady Little came out to talk to Martinez, and it seemed as if the three-time Cy Young Award winner had done his job for the day. But Little left his ace in and Posada's looper landed in front of center fielder Johnny Damon as the runners came around to score and Yankee Stadium erupted in cheers.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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