As the World Series looms just around the corner, the end of the 2003 series draws nearer. Once the…
The Comeback That Wasn't
Jose Contreras was called on to try and make the most of the situation, but immediately ran into trouble. The big Cuban allowed three runs with two outs in the second inning on a ground-rule double to game-four hero Alex Gonzalez and a two-run single to the pitcher Brad Penny.
The Yankees were left reeling, but managed to stop the tide of Marlin runs until the fifth inning when Chris Hammond coughed up a two-run single to Mike Lowell that was facilitated by an Enrique Wilson throwing error. Lowell's bloop single gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead and shot another hole into the Yankee bullpen.
Wilson was starting the game at second base in place of Alfonso Soriano who had been struggling mightily at the plate. Similarly, Nick Johnson was the starter at first base instead of the injured and struggling Jason Giambi. Hammond was making his first appearance of the postseason after not pitching in the Division Series and not even being on the roster for the Championship Series.
Meanwhile, Brad Penny (3-1) was shutting down the Yankees for the second time in less than a week. Penny allowed two runs – one earned – on eight hits and a pair of walks through seven innings. He put an exclamation point on his night when he almost worked out of trouble in the seventh by striking out Ruben Sierra on a blazing 99 mph fastball.
Derek Jeter singled after Sierra whiffed to give the Yankees their second run of the game, but Penny got Williams to fly out to end that threat.
The Yankees tried to make the game interesting in the ninth inning against Braden Looper, but fell just short. After Aaron Boone fouled out to lead off the inning, Giambi pinch hit for Jeff Nelson and homered to right centerfield to give the Yankees new hope.
Jeter followed that with his third hit of the night and then came around to score on Wilson's RBI double into the right field corner. Looper was lifted from the game in favor of Ugueth Urbina, whom the Yankees had come back against to tie game four. But Urbina got Williams on that long fly ball to right – that would have been a homerun in almost any other ballpark – and then got Matsui to ground out sharply to first to end the game.
Contreras (0-2) was charged with the loss for the Yankees. He allowed four runs in just three innings of work on five hits and three walks. He struck out four batters.
Urbina earned his fourth save in six postseason chances for his 2/3 of an inning of work.
Soriano did make a pinch-hitting appearance in the eighth inning, pinch-hitting for Karim Garcia against the left-handed Dontrelle Willis. Soriano struck out swinging to end that inning with a man on first, but stayed in the game and played right field. He didn't have any chances for a putout, but he cleanly fielded an Alex Gonzalez single in his first appearance in the outfield at the major league level.
The series heads back to Yankee Stadium now with the Yankees down three games to two. Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.30) will look to beat the Marlins and keep the Yankees alive on Saturday at 7:55 pm in game six. Josh Beckett (1-2, 2.67) will try and lead the Marlins to their second-ever World Championship.