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Yankees pushing record book

The Associated Press

And so, as the AL championship series heads to Boston today, the Yankees lead 2 games to 0, on track for their third trip to the World Series in four seasons following Thursday night’s 3-2 win, a game that can be replayed and analyzed endlessly.

Friday, October 15, 1999

And so, as the AL championship series heads to Boston today, the Yankees lead 2 games to 0, on track for their third trip to the World Series in four seasons following Thursday night’s 3-2 win, a game that can be replayed and analyzed endlessly.

”It was ridiculous. It was nerve-wracking,” Tino Martinez said after watching the top of the eighth, a thriller – or tragedy, depending on your allegiance – that saw New York manager Joe Torre go through four pitchers, and Boston manager Jimy Williams exhaust his bench by using three pinch-hitters and two pinch-runners.

”That’s the stuff, you sit home and watch a game and say, ‘Do this, do this, do this,’ ” Torre said.

With their 12th consecutive postseason victory, the World Series champions tied the record set by the Murderer’s Row Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig who swept the World Series in 1927, ’28 and ’32.

”It is phenomenal. Obviously, you don’t think about a streak that you’re on. You just think about the game that you’re playing and managing,” Torre said. ”You can’t say it’s hard to believe because it’s happened, but it is – it’s hard to believe. I can’t think of anything else to say.”

Tension built throughout the chilly night.

Martinez hit a solo homer in the fourth off Ramon Martinez, the brother of Red Sox star pitcher Pedro Martinez, who starts Game 3 Saturday against former Boston ace Roger Clemens.

Nomar Garciaparra put the Red Sox ahead in the fifth with a two-run homer off David Cone, starting for the first time since Oct. 2. To add intrigue, first base was open at the time and Troy O’Leary, just 2-for-22 in his career against Cone at that point, was on deck.

Ramon Martinez tired in the seventh, allowing a game-tying double to Chuck Knoblauch on his 120th pitch – 22 more than he had thrown in any start since a 15-month layoff caused by reconstructive shoulder surgery.

Tom Gordon walked Derek Jeter, Knoblauch stole third and Paul O’Neill, playing with a broken rib, hit a soft, opposite-field single that drove in the go-ahead run.

”Looks great in the paper, but I didn’t hit it hard,” O’Neill said. ”Today I felt really good. So much has been blown out of proportion on this (rib) thing.”

Turns out that was just the prologue.

Mike Stanton relieved Cone to start the eighth and O’Leary doubled off the 385-foot sign in right, missing a home run by inches. Jason Varitek also had a near miss in the second on a ball closer to the right-field line.

”Those balls go out and we’re up one run,” said Damon Buford, who ended the game by striking out against Mariano Rivera with runners at the corners.

Then came the chess game, a fascinating display that rarely occurs during the regular season when the stakes are lower.

”You make the moves. Hopefully, they work out,” Williams said.

Jeff Nelson hit Mike Stanley on the right wrist, with Buford coming in to pinch run. Varitek sacrificed the runners over, and Allen Watson relieved with a 1-0 count on pinch-hitter Scott Hatteberg.

Boston countered by having Merloni hit for Hatteberg, and the Yankees intentionally walked him, loading the bases.

Butch Huskey then hit for Trot Nixon. Ramiro Mendoza came in, with Donnie Sadler – the last available non-pitcher on Boston’s bench – running at first for Merloni.

Huskey struck out on a 1-2 pitch and Jose Offerman lofted an easy fly to center. Huskey had been 0-for-2 against Mendoza in his career and Offerman 3-for-10.

”I was put in a great situation to succeed and I didn’t succeed,” Huskey said. ”I chalk this one up to him. He got me this time. I’ll get him next time.”

Rivera, who won Wednesday’s opener with two innings of one-hit relief, got two quick outs in the ninth but Garciaparra singled and went to third on O’Leary’s bloop single. Rivera then fanned Buford on a 2-2 pitch to end it.

”It’s a tough game,” Buford said. ”You go up there. You try to see a ball you can hit and try to hit a ball fair. That’s all you can do.”

Notes: Boston has lost 10 straight ALCS games. … Cone matched his postseason best with nine strikeouts. Four were called by plate umpire Dan Morrison. … X-rays on Stanley were negative. … Tino Martinez was 2-for-16 in the postseason before the homer. … Boston outhit New York 10-7, but not when it counted, going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox stranded 13 runners.