By MARC TOPKIN, TOM JONES, Times wires
Published October 5, 2003
Trot Nixon's 11th-inning home run that saved the Red Sox season is in pretty good company.
It was Boston's first walkoff postseason win since Carlton Fisk's 12th-inning home run off Cincinnati's Pat Darcy in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
The Sox lost that Series in Game 7 but hope this home run leads to better things.
"We'll build off this as much as we can," Nixon said.
Nixon, limited by injury, spent much of the game playing Whiffle ball in the clubhouse trying to stay loose.
Doug Mirabelli started the winning rally with a single, and Nixon followed with a drive that carried into the centerfield seats.
"I just got under it," Nixon said. "Maybe a little gust of wind from the Lord up there and it went out of the ballpark."
PITCHING IN: Lost in the miscues and dramatics were excellent performances by starters Derek Lowe and Ted Lilly. But the key for Boston may have been the three perfect innings from reliever Mike Timlin.
HISTORY LESSON: The A's have failed in their past seven attempts to close out a postseason series (once in 2000, three times in '01, twice in '02). ... Of 40 teams that have led 2-0 in a best-of-five series, only six have failed to advance.
TIM TIME: Oakland manager Ken Macha is aware the history of starting pitchers on short rest in the postseason is not good.
Still, Macha today will bring back Tim Hudson, who threw 106 pitches while allowing 10 hits in 62/3 innings in Game 1 on Wednesday.
"He threw in the bullpen (Friday) and said he felt great," Macha said. "My feeling is I would like to have my best guys out there. He's certainly been our best pitcher for most of the year. That's how we're going to go."
Over the past seven postseasons, pitchers starting with three days' rest instead of four are 6-17 with a 5.47 ERA in 35 games.
The Sox will pitch veteran John Burkett, who was in danger of being released this season but finished 12-9 with a 5.15 ERA.
LOCAL CONNECTION: Hernando High product Bronson Arroyo didn't expect to be with the Red Sox this season, much less in the playoffs.
After eight years in the Pittsburgh organization, including parts of three seasons with the Pirates, he was claimed on waivers by the Red Sox in February, got an August call-up and impressed enough to earn a spot on the postseason roster.
MORE SOX-A'S: The six combined errors were a division series record. ... Boston reliever Byung-Hyun Kim apologized for making what the Sox politely called a "discourteous gesture" to the fans who booed him during pregame introductions. ... Oakland outfielder Jose Guillen wasn't able to play because of soreness and swelling in his left hand. He fractured the hamate bone Sept. 14. ... A number of Sox players were sporting a new look Saturday: short hair or shaved heads.
KEEPING BARRY QUIET: Barry Bonds was not going to beat the Marlins. Florida simply was not going to let it happen.
Somehow, the Marlins escaped the mighty bat of the San Francisco slugger. In four games in the NLDS, Bonds went 2-for-9 with no homers and two RBIs. But he was walked eight times, six intentionally. In the ultimate sign of respect, Bonds was walked intentionally with two outs and no runners on in the eighth inning of a tied game.
"I'd be (darned) if I was going to let him beat me," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "You're managing against one guy, just trying to figure out when he is going to come up and hoping he doesn't. You're just knowing that every time he comes up to bat, he can beat you."
BIG BAT: Marlins rookie Dontrelle Willis is known for his pitching, but he brought his bat Saturday. Willis became the first pitcher to get three hits in a game since the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in Game 2 of the 1988 World Series.
But his last hit might have cost him a chance at the victory. Willis was tossing a one-hitter when he hit a two-out triple in the fifth. Apparently the running took something out of him. He was pulled in the top of the sixth after allowing four hits that led to four runs.
"I wish he would've stopped at second base," McKeon said. "But what are you going to do with a youngster who has so much emotion?"
COMEBACK KIDS: Florida's victory was its sixth in seven postseason games against San Francisco, and all six were come-from-behind victories. Of their 14 victories in the postseason, the Marlins have come from behind 11 times. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Saturday's game was the first time in postseason history that a series ended with the potential tying run thrown out at the plate.
SHEFFIELD UNSURE: Braves slugger Gary Sheffield hopes to play today against the Cubs. "I'd say a 50/50 chance," said Sheffield, who missed Saturday's game because of a sore hand injured when he was hit by a Mark Prior pitch Friday night. "I know how much these guys stuck it out (Saturday). They battled to get it to this game, and I can't let them down."