Yankees rumble past Red Sox

New York prevails, 4-3, after near brawls disrupt Game 3 in fourth inning

Martinez loses duel vs. Clemens

Red Sox ace hits batter, later pushes Zimmer, 72, to ground amid fracas

League Championship Series

October 12, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON -- The analogies to a heavyweight fight, so obvious when the matchup included starting pitchers with nine Cy Young Awards between them and large amounts of bad blood, became disturbingly real yesterday in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

Both dugouts emptied twice in the fourth inning, once when Boston's Pedro Martinez hit Karim Garcia in the back, and again when New York's Roger Clemens threw high to Manny Ramirez. And before order had been restored, Martinez flung 72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground, police stormed the field and a storied rivalry made room for another bizarre chapter.

This was more than hype. And it certainly was more than 34,209 at Fenway Park could have anticipated, even with such a dramatic buildup to the Clemens-Martinez affair.

The Yankees scored twice in the fourth inning to take the lead, releasing Martinez's famed temper and producing a 4-3 victory that won't get nearly as much attention as the assorted tantrums and near brawls.

Closer Mariano Rivera retired all six batters he faced for his 28th career postseason save, extending his record, as the Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. But the outcome seemed almost secondary.

"When I told you it was going to be festive," Clemens said, "I didn't know it was going to be this festive."

Where to begin?

It usually starts with Martinez, who earlier this season hit Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter in consecutive at-bats, knocking both Yankees from the game. Garcia ducked to avoid being hit in the head, and the ball struck him below the shoulders. The pitch came immediately after Hideki Matsui lined a ground-rule double to right field to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead, the third straight batter to reach against Martinez to begin the inning.

This is where any semblance of control began to melt away.

Garcia shouted at Martinez and players left the dugouts. Teammates had to restrain Clemens and Jorge Posada, who also exchanged words with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. Martinez yelled at Posada and motioned to his head, as if issuing a warning about where his next pitch to the Yankees catcher might be aimed.

"There's no question in my mind that Pedro hit him on purpose," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He can thread a needle any time he wants. He was probably frustrated with the fact we hit some balls hard. You know the kind of respect I have for Pedro's ability, but I don't care for that."

After sliding hard into second base on a run-scoring double play, Garcia became tangled with Boston's Todd Walker. Umpire Joe West escorted Garcia to the dugout, but more trouble was brewing.

It came on Clemens' 1-2 pitch to Ramirez, who led off the fourth. The ball was high enough for Posada to fully extend his left arm and lift out of his crouch, but not close enough to hit Ramirez, who still reacted as if Clemens threw at his head. He walked toward the mound with bat in hand, bringing players out of the dugouts and bullpens.

"After looking at it on video," Red Sox manager Grady Little said, "I don't think it was that close."

Said Clemens: "I was trying to strike Manny out, and the bottom line is he started mouthing off to me and the ball wasn't near him. If I wanted it near him, he'd know it."

Zimmer had cursed Martinez from the bench after Garcia was hit. This time, he ran across the field and took a swipe at Martinez with his left hand, missing the Red Sox's ace.

Martinez grabbed Zimmer by the head with both hands and pushed him to the ground. Zimmer fell forward before rolling over, and suffered a small cut on the bridge of his nose.

If a senior citizens center needs a bouncer, Martinez is the obvious hire.

"We won the game and that's what matters," said Zimmer, who was taken by ambulance to a hospital for a precautionary exam. "I feel fine."

Clemens said: "Andy [Pettitte] and I went over there and I saw a bald head hit the ground. We weren't sure if it was Zim or Boomer [David Wells]."

As he left the clubhouse, Martinez said: "I was just trying to dodge him and push him away, and too bad he fell. I hope he's fine."

A scrum broke out near first base while David Ortiz tried to calm Ramirez, who declined to comment afterward. The scene lasted about 15 minutes, and nobody was ejected even though plate umpire Alfonso Marquez warned both benches after Garcia was hit.

A fight erupted before the bottom of the ninth between Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson and a Red Sox grounds crew member who sat in the bullpen. Garcia ended up in the pile and left the game with a cut hand.

Late last night, police said two Yankees might face assault charges because of the incident.

"All of the incidents were disgraceful and unacceptable," said Yankees president Randy Levine, who said he called Major League Baseball executive Bob DuPuy on Friday over concerns about security at the park. "There's a lawless attitude permeating here."

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