October 16, 2003. It's a day in New York Yankees history that many fans will forever remember as one of the most exciting games in the last decade.
The history behind it; the Yankees and Boston Red Sox were tied 3-3 heading into Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series with a chance to advance to the World Series and play the Florida Marlins, who had defeated the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.
On the mound was Roger Clemens for the Yankees and Pedro Martinez for the Red Sox and most thought would be an epic pitcher's duel that almost got ugly really quick for the Red Sox; as Trot Nixon's two-run home run put Boston ahead 2-0 and then Jason Varitek scored on a throwing error to go up 3-0 in the second inning. Kevin Millar's solo home run in the fourth inning made it 4-0 and then after a walk and a single, Joe Torre pulled Clemens after just three innings pitched and turned to Mike Mussina to clean up the mess.
All Mussina did was pitch three scoreless innings of relief for the Yankees and allowed only two hits in the game, which allowed the Yankees to get back into the game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Jason Giambi crushed a home run to center off Martinez to cut the lead to 4-1. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Giambi again got to Pedro, cranking his second home run of the game, another solo shot, which made it 4-2. The Red Sox got one of the rubs back when David Ortiz hit a solo home run off David Wells to make it 5-2.
Martinez completely fell apart in the bottom of the eighth inning, as he allowed a double to Derek Jeter and then an RBI single to Bernie Williams to make it 5-3. Red Sox manager Grady Little came out to check on Martinez and what everyone thought would be to remove Pedro for lefty reliever Alan Embree, but he stuck with Martinez, a move that not only would haunt Boston fans to this day, but ended up costing Little his job that winter.
By keeping Martinez in, the Yankees took full advantage as Hideki Matsui's ground-rule double with one out set up second and third for Jorge Posada, who doubled to center field to tie the game at 5-5, thus engineering one of the greatest rallies against one of the game's most dominating pitchers in the game at the time.
The Yankees then turned to Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning, who proceeded to add to his postseason legacy as he pitched three scoreless innings, only allowing two hits and striking out three, but kept Boston off the board in the 9th, 10th and 11th innings to give the team a chance to win the game.
And then, in the bottom of the 11th inning, with knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield in the game pitching in relief, Aaron Boone stepped up to the plate, and on the very first pitch, drilled a knuckleball over the left field wall for a game-winning, walk-off home run to give the Yankees a 6-5 victory to send them to the 2003 World Series. The Yankee Stadium faithful was sent into one of the wildest frenzies ever seen and the players all celebrated into the night, as they staged one of the most historic comebacks in playoff history.
Boone and the Yankees however would eventually go on to lose the World Series to the Florida Marlins a couple of weeks later four games to two, but most fans don't really remember much about that series; they will always remember the series with Boston and that Game 7, as Boone hit one of the most clutch home runs in Yankee playoff history and one that even 50 years from now, will still be talked about.
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