2003 What-If Series: Chicago Cubs (88-74) vs. New York Yankees (101-61)

It’s been a long time since anything has been written on this blog, and for relatively good reason. I wrote here, mainly about football, because I noticed that I wanted to read about several topics that nobody else had written about. Hence, I wrote some posts, got my fill, and moved on. I see comments that are posted, such as the heavily scrutinized fact that Jerry Rice was indeed not on the 49ers’ championship squad of 1984, but have not made the effort to correct them. I wrote with a high amount of confidence due to my belief that there were other people exactly like me out there who wanted to read about certain topics that did not exist. Even though I was satisfied with viewership, my interest waned and the posts dwindled, eventually stopping on August 2nd, 2015 after writing a counter-factual NFL history article that I found particularly exhausting.

After a 551 day hiatus, I came back to write a post out of personal interest. It is a common pastime for Chicago Cubs fans, both before 2016 and after, to discuss the many Cubs’ many blown chances to get to the World Series or even win it at some point. Two years are the most heavily discussed, at least in my household, are 1984 and 2003. In 1984, the Cubs won the NL East and met the San Diego Padres in the NLCS, at the time a 5-game series. Due to the Cubs’ refusal to put lights over Wrigley Field, a third home game was stripped from them and awarded to the Padres despite the Cubs’ advantage in the win column that ordinarily would have given them the first three games at home. Chicago won the first two games at home, fairly lost Game 3 and then lost Games 4 and 5 in heartbreaking fashion.

Then there’s 2003, which might be even more interesting.

After their 1989 division championship and subsequent demolition in the NLCS at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, the Cubs won more than 80 games only twice and enjoyed only one winning season in the 1990’s: a 1998 campaign that saw them go 90-73 and endure a thorough ruination to Bobby Cox’s Atlanta Braves in a 3-game sweep in the NLDS. One of the main reasons for the success in 1998 was pitcher Kerry Wood, who made his rookie debut and used his cannon arm to go 13-6 with a 3.40 ERA, including a 20-strikeout, zero BB performance versus a Houston Astros team that led the National League in runs and won 102 games.

By 2003, however, the luster of 1998 and its heroes – Wood’s debut, Sammy Sosa’s 66 home runs – had faded. In 2002, the Cubs bottomed out and suffered through their third 95+ loss season in the past four years. Needless to say, there was not very much optimism for 2003.

Mark Prior, the Cubs’ top draft choice in 2001, began his career in May of 2002, but was not regarded as a premier pitcher. He did, however, turn in a solid rookie campaign that saw him start 19 games, splitting his decisions 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA.

In 2003, Prior became one half of a pitching tandem that, along with Kerry Wood, was dubbed the “Chicago Heat”. Even though the two pitched well and were named to the All-Star game, the Cubs’ record stood at 47-47 at the All-Star break. Part of the reason for this was the batting of the third basemen and center fielders, but that will be covered a bit later.

The Cubs closed out the season 41-37 (and 19-8 in September), thanks in part to a trade that sent Pittsburgh Pirates Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez to Chicago. Fittingly, the Cubs swept the Pirates in a double-header to clinch the NL Central division in the penultimate game of the season.

The Cubs, now the third seed in the playoffs, were thrown to the wolves immediately: go to Atlanta and play the 101-61 Braves, with 5 World Series’ worth of experience. A tall order indeed – one the Cubs handled admirably. The teams alternated wins, with the Cubs winning Games 1, 3 and the clinching Game 5 in Atlanta. Kerry Wood, the starting pitcher in Game 5, gave up just a single run to a team that led the Major Leagues in both runs scored and home runs in a 5-1 Cubs win.

On the other side of the playoffs, the Florida Marlins played the 100-game winning San Francisco Giants, one year removed from their traumatic World Series collapse in 2002. The wild-card Marlins looked every bit the part as they faltered in Game 1, before winning the next three games: Game 2 saw the Marlins’ Brad Penny beat Joe Nathan 9-5, while games 3 and 4 were decisively more exciting. Due to an error by RF Jose Cruz Jr. in the bottom of the 11th inning with the Giants leading 3-2 before Tim Worrell walked a man to put two men on. A bases-loading bunt and a Luis Castillo force out later, 2016 Hall of Fame class member Ivan Rodriguez drove in two runs with a single to win the game for Florida. Game 4 saw the Marlins jump out to a 5-1 lead before starter Dontrelle Willis ran out of energy and the Giants tied the game. The Marlins won 6-5, and Game 4 is the only postseason game to date where the game ended on a runner being thrown out at the plate. Ivan Rodriguez was the man to make the tag, and would have been named the series MVP had it been the NLCS or World Series due to his hitting and fielding.

This set up an NLCS between the Cubs and the 91-71 Marlins. Despite the better record for the Marlins, confidence for Cubs fans (and fans outside of Chicago) was high. Even Yankee fans were confident that the Cubs would beat the Marlins. On October 5th, 2003, a day after the Giants’ defeat to the Marlins in the NLDS, New York radio broadcaster Chris Russo, a notorious Giants fan, unleashed a rant that has become famous in New York radio history on the “Mike and The Mad Dog” show. Expressing his disgust at the Yankees “walking through Minnesota” and “pounding” the Twins, Russo explained to Francesa that the Yankees would have another easy ride to a World Series and that they would go on to “beat the Red Sox, beat the Cubs, and win the World Series again”. In a documentary about Cubs’ history, another Chicago columnist referred to the Marlins as “easy” and the team as “Jack McKeon [their manager] and a bunch of rookies”. Needless to say, confidence was soaring in Chicago, at least at first glance.

Ultimately, the Cubs went down after cruising to a 3-1 series lead. Josh Beckett shut down the Cubs in Game 5, before the famous “Steve Bartman” incident (and a subsequent 8-run eruption in the 8th inning) cost them Game 6. Game 7 saw a shaky performance by Kerry Wood ultimately cost the Cubs: despite his game-tying two run home run in the 2nd inning, Wood succumbed to pressure and an unusually high-pitch count as the Cubs lost a surreal final game 9-6. In the final eleven innings of the NLCS, the Cubs surrendered 17 runs with their two best starting pitchers beginning each game.

This is indeed an article about how the Cubs made it to the World Series and what would have happened against a good Yankee team, so here is where the counter-factual history begins.

The Cubs Sweep the NLCS (surprisingly)

Game 1 of the NLCS saw the Cubs slug it out at Wrigley in a 9-8 extra-innings loss. Carlos Zambrano pitched for the Cubs, but was not involved in the decision. The Marlins led 8-6 with two outs in the 9th inning, before Sammy Sosa hit a 2-run home run off Marlins closer Uegeth Urbina to tie the game. However, what would have been a famous moment in Chicago sports history went by the boards as Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell hit a solo home run in the 11th inning. The Cubs did not score in the bottom of the 11th and the Marlins came away with a Game 1 win.

The Cubs then went on to win Games 2, 3 and 4 by the combined score of 25-10.

The reason Game 1 matters so much in this sequence is that Games 5, 6 and 7 were practically unwinnable, all for different reasons. Game 4 saw a dominant starting pitching performance by Marlins ace Josh Beckett in Miami. This is perhaps the least discussed game in the series, in part due to the fact that Beckett pitched several games like this in the postseason and no excuses can be made when a loss like this occurs. Game 6 being labeled as “unwinnable” will likely get a rise out of any Cub fan with half a brain, but there’s nothing to prevent Mark Prior, an 18-6 starter in 2003, from stopping the Marlins from tying the game, shortstop Alex Gonzalez from making only his 11th error all season to load the bases, or a bases-clearing double by pinch-hitter Mike Mordecai, who hit only .261 all year. These things didn’t happen because of Bartman, these things happened because the Cubs simply were not better through 7 games than the Marlins. Game 7 saw an apparently dazed Cub team gain an early 5-3 lead but eventually succumb to a Marlin lineup that had more hitting than it knew what to do with.

Anyways, Game 1 is the one that the Cubs should have won out of all the games in the series, at least in my mind. Mike Lowell was a good hitter and was the man who ultimately won the game for Florida in the 11th. However, if the Cubs win that game, that changes things pretty drastically. Assuming the remaining four games go the same way they did in real life, Josh Beckett does not get another opportunity to pitch, unless McKeon put him in for several innings of relief as he did in Game 7. Even so, let’s just assume for the sake of simplicity that the Cubs win all four games. A 4-game sweep, and suddenly the Cubs are in the World Series to face the vaunted Yankees.

Here’s where the argument starts. The Yankees, armed with several stars and five World Series appearances in the last seven seasons, had won 101 games in the regular season to win the AL East. They won the ALCS in seven games against a Red Sox team that was just one year away from their first championship in 86 years. In reality, the Yankees’ über-dramatic Game 7 11th-inning win over Boston caused an emotional letdown, leading to a sluggish Game 1 against Florida from which they never recovered, losing the series in 6 games. The Yankees still win this game in the same fashion, so it is anyone’s guess whether or not they would have experienced the same problems against Chicago. At the time of my writing, I haven’t done the simulations for the games yet, but this article has been written for this purpose: to either end the arguments that I have with one particular Cubs fan I know, or allow him to rub in my face that he was indeed correct in his claim that Chicago would have cleaned up in the 2003 Series.

The Arguments for Victory

Chicago

1. Regular Season Series vs. New York

The Cubs actually played the Yankees during the regular season in a three-game series in the middle of June, and Chicago prevailed with a 2-1 advantage through 3 games. Carlos Zambrano started the first game, a 5-3 Yankee win, while Kerry Wood and Mark Prior each turned in Chicago victories by scores of 5-2 and 8-7, respectively. Simplicity is sometimes the best argument, and when a team wins a best-of-three series, it can be easy to point and say “the team that won is better”. Thus, this serves as a primary argument in favor of the Cubs.

2. Late-Season Improvement

I mentioned earlier that a trade made by the Cubs assisted them in a late-season surge to make the playoffs. CF Kenny Lofton and 3B Aramis Ramirez were both acquired from Pittsburgh, and made an immediate impact. The Cubs’ regular center-fielder, Corey Patterson, was inconsistent to start and suffered a season-ending achilles tear in June. Meanwhile, all the players Chicago was platooning at third base could not collectively muster a .200 average. Lofton became the lead-off man for Chicago and was a main contributor for the Cubs in the playoffs as they scored in the 1st inning eight times in their 12 postseason games. Aramis Ramirez played 63 regular season games and recorded 60 hits, and a less-than spectacular .259 batting average – however, the Cubs went 38-25 in the games he appeared in.

3. The Marlins handled the Yankees with relative ease

While it’s true that the Yankees were a pretty good team, the Marlins were deceptively good. After a poor 13-22 start, Jack McKeon was brought out of retirement to become the Marlins’ manager and went 78-49 in the regular season with an 11-6 record in the postseason. They caught a flat Yankees team in the series and were able to hang on due to great pitching from Josh Beckett and a walk-off home run in Game 4. Usually, when a team that beats you goes on to win it all, it makes you feel better about your defeat; however, in this case, it was purely the opposite.

New York

1. Pitching Depth

While it’s true the Cubs had dominant pitching (at times), their postseason pitching wasn’t as sharp as it was during the regular season. Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement went 0-for-the-postseason in decisions, while Kerry Wood won Games 1 and 5 of the NLDS, while Mark Prior won Game 2 of the NLDS and Game 2 of the NLCS. The Yankees, meanwhile, featured David Wells, Andy Pettitte, who had some monstrous games in the postseason particularly when facing elimination, Mike Mussina (who was devastating in the postseason, even going back to his days with the Orioles), and Roger Clemens, one of the best pitchers in history, steroids aside. For this reason, the Yankees appear to have an advantage at the outset due to their consistently good pitching, while the Cubs had two extremely good starters when they were at their best and two who were unspectacular all postseason.

2. Hideki Matsui

This is an interesting component of the argument, and it actually arose this morning on February 4th as I was discussing the possibility of a 2003 World Series between these two teams. Zambrano, Prior, Wood and Clement were the four men featured in the Cubs’ postseason rotation. What do all of them have in common? All four were right-handed pitchers. The Cubs had only one left-handed pitcher in their five-man rotation, Shawn Estes, who did not make an appearance in the 2003 postseason in any capacity after a regular season that saw him go 8-11 with a 5.73 ERA. Matsui, meanwhile, was one year away from devastating the Red Sox in the postseason, but was still a potent postseason threat. In one of the league’s best offenses, Matsui didn’t bat .300 on the year but did have 106 RBI to finish second on the Yankees in that department, second only to Jason Giambi by a single RBI. In the ALDS and ALCS, the man Yankees fans called “Godzilla” went 12 for 41 at the plate, battering the Red Sox’ right-handed starters for a .293 average. He was walked three times, had seven RBIs and four doubles. He also tore up Pedro Martinez, the ace of the Red Sox staff, in all three games he started in the ALCS and was one of the main contributors to the Yankees’ improbable Game 7 comeback.

I posed a hypothetical situation to a particular Cubs fan I was speaking to in the morning: two on, late innings, one or two outs, and Matsui comes up to bat. Who do they have to pitch to him with their right handed starters? The answer I received was “bean him”, and, while it would minimize the damage (and probably start a fight), would probably be beyond even the most outrageous recesses of Dusty Baker’s mind to attempt. However, the point is received. If there were two on, it would be better to just intentionally walk him. Bases loaded, however? The Cubs would have to either try and pitch to him with one of their starters (a 50/50 proposition considering the postseason success of the group), or bring in a left-handed reliever based on the situation. Supposing the game is “late innings” like I proposed, it is conceivable that the Cubs could bring in left-handed Mike Remlinger from the bullpen, who famously struck out Jason Giambi in one of the June games in Chicago to leave the bases loaded late in the game – an at-bat that ultimately cost Roger Clemens his 300th win. Remlinger, however, was a strikeout pitcher who allowed almost one hit per inning he pitched in 2003, a dangerous proposition in this situation. The only other left-handed pitcher in the Cubs’ bullpen was 37-year old Mark Guthrie, who gave up 40 hits in 42.2 innings of work. A dangerous situation indeed.

3. Postseason Experience and Managerial Competence

People tend to forget that before Joe Torre was hired to be the Yankees’ manager in the mid-90’s, he was regarded as a poor manager who wouldn’t take the Yankees anywhere – much like Bill Belichick when he was hired by the New England Patriots in 2000. Both men were received poorly, but went on to win eight combined championships for their respective teams. Torre was the man who managed the Yankees from 1996-2007, and led the Yankees to playoff berths every single year he was with the team, including six trips to the World Series and four championships. In 2002, the Yankees lost the ALDS to the eventual World Series champion Anaheim Angels, a team that beat none other than Dusty Baker’s Giants in the Fall Classic. However, a 4-3 series win by the Angels cannot go without a glaring asterisk. With a 5-0 lead in Game 6 of the World Series, Baker famously pulled starting pitcher Russ Ortiz with two on and one out in the bottom of the 7th inning. Baker even went so far as to give Ortiz the game ball, a move that has been mocked and scrutinized years later. The Angels went on to score 6 unanswered runs and win Game 7, ruining a four home run, 13-walk performance by Barry Bonds and extend the Giants’ championship drought. Throughout his career, Baker has been a manager that has been regarded by many as a success, but perhaps not in the postseason. The Giants’ 2002 ‘incident’ is a great example, as well as the Cubs’ 2003 meltdown, including not only the Bartman incident, but the lack of control extended to the players as well: Moises Alou and Aramis Ramirez famously bought plane tickets back to the Dominican Republic before Game 7 was even played, “just in case”. Baker was also the architect of of a 9.5 game lead collapse while presiding over the 1993 Giants, an NLDS choke with the Reds after leading 2-0 with the Reds in 2012, and numerous playoff exits.

Now that we have all the arguments for each side out of the way, now comes the fun part: simulating games and analyzing them, even though they never occurred.

All simulations and statistics, unless noted otherwise, are provided by simulations run on whatifsports.com.

Game 1

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Lineups (note: New York’s actual World Series roster was used, Chicago’s NLCS roster was used with DH adjustment)

Chicago 

  1. CF Kenny Lofton
  2. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
  3. RF Sammy Sosa
  4. LF Moises Alou
  5. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  6. 1B Eric Karros
  7. SS Alex Gonzalez
  8. DH Ramon Martinez
  9. C Paul Bako

New York

  1. 2B Alfonso Soriano
  2. 1B Nick Johnson
  3. SS Derek Jeter
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. LF Hideki Matsui
  6. C Jorge Posada
  7. DH Jason Giambi
  8. 3B Aaron Boone
  9. RF Karim Garcia

Game 1 of the 2003 World Series sees left-hander David Wells (15-7, 4.14 ERA) start for the Yankees and Carlos Zambrano (13-11, 3.11 ERA). In a Fall Classic that saw the biggest disparity in wins between the two teams playing (13) since the 1986 series, The Yankees (likely unsurprisingly to some) scored in each of the first four innings and erupted for 6 runs in the 4th. The Cubs fell behind early and never quite recovered, scoring all four of their runs in the 7th inning and the Yankees adding an “oh, by the way” run in the bottom of the 7th.

The Cubs went down in order in the first, and Zambrano ran into trouble almost immediately. After striking out Alfonso Soriano, Nick Johnson grounded a base hit into right field on an apparent “bad fielding play” by Cubs second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, then scored from first base on Derek Jeter’s RBI double. With Jeter on second, both Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui struck out to end the 1st.

Again in the 2nd, Chicago went down in order, and once again, the Yankees showed their muscle on offense. A strikeout by Jorge Posada led to another 1-out hit for the Yankees, this time a solo homer that was “crushed” (according to the simulation) by DH Jason Giambi to left field. Boone and Karim Garcia then lined out to end the inning, with the Yankees leading 2-0 on three hits to none.

David Wells remained perfect through the third inning as the Cubs went down 1-2-3 for the third straight time. Zambrano continued to struggle with one-out hits, as Soriano grounded out, leading to a Nick Johnson double in left field. Jeter then hit a single to center, but Johnson was held up at third, and with the infield drawn in at double play depth, Bernie Williams got a hit through the hole into right center field for a hit to score Johnson and get Jeter to third base. Hideki Matsui then walked to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Posada allowed both Williams and Jeter to tag up, with Jeter scoring. Jason Giambi drew a walk, but Aaron Boone ended the rally by striking out to end the inning. After 3, the Yankees lead 4-0 on 6 hits.

In the top of the 4th, the Cubs got their first World Series man on base since October 10th, 1945 as Mark Grudzielanek was hit in the knee by a pitch after a Lofton flyout. However, they would leave their first man on base in a World Series since the same date, as Sammy Sosa hit into a double play against a drawn-in infield.

Carlos Zambrano wouldn’t survive the 4th inning, as a leadoff double from Karim Garcia was an ominous omen for the fourth inning. Alfonso Soriano struck out for the second time of the night, but Nick Johnson walked afterwards. With two men on, Derek Jeter hits what is described by the simulation as a “laser beam” to center field for a double, scoring both Garcia and Johnson. Bernie Williams then walked to put two men on, and none other than Hideki Matsui “ripped a liner” down the right field line for a double, scoring both Jeter and Williams. Crippled by his third double allowed of the inning and his fourth run allowed in the 4th, Zambrano was removed. He was credited with the loss in just 3.1 innings of work, and with good reason: 9 hits, 9 earned runs, 4 walks, a home run allowed an amazing pitch count of 97 and an astounding 24.30 ERA.

A side note: the simulations provided cannot control who enters the game in relief. Thus, 24 year-old right-hander Juan Cruz was chosen by imaginary Dusty Baker to pitch to Jorge Posada. Cruz was 2-7 in the regular season with a 6.05 ERA in 6 starts. Admittedly, these aren’t great stats, but then again, neither was his performance in the 4th.

Posada then hit a double to center, scoring Matsui from second. Giambi then hit a double off the right field wall, scoring Posada on the Yankees’ 5th double of the inning. Mercifully, Cruz induced groundouts from Aaron Boone and Karim Garcia, who led off the inning to end the Yankee onslaught at 6 runs, with the score at 10-0 Yankees on 11 hits.

The rest of Game 1 was relatively uneventful. The Cubs grounded into another double play in the 5th, and Hideki Matsui made a “great catch” in the 6th. Jose Cruz left the game in the top of the 6th after 1.2 innings of work, 3 hits and a run allowed. Todd Wellemayer was brought in by Chicago to pitch in the 6th, and performed reasonably well, striking out Matsui and Giambi. Sandwiched in between those two at-bats was a walk for Jorge Posada. Antonio Alfonseca then replaced Wellemayer and struck out Aaron Boone, who went 0-5 at the plate in Game 1, one of only two Yankees to not get a hit in Game 1 (Soriano being the other).

The top of the 7th inning was the bright spot for Chicago on the night. Kenny Lofton started it off with a triple, and scored Chicago’s first run of the series was scored when Grudzielanek smacked a base hit to left center field. Juan Acavedo entered to pitch to Sosa, who promptly struck out. Aramis Ramirez then hit a two-out single to center, and Eric Karros walked to load the bases. Alex Gonzalez then hit a “routine” grounder to third base that Aaron Boone “misplayed”, allowing Gonzalez to reach on the error and Grudzielanek to score. Jose Contreras was then brought in to pitch to Ramon Martinez, who hit a ground rule double that bounced over the left field wall, scoring Ramirez and Karros. Paul Bako drew a walk, loading the bases again, but Kenny Lofton flew out to end the inning with the score 10-4 in favor of New York.

A Nick Johnson walk and a Derek Jeter double added the Yankees’ last run of the night.

In total, the Yankees had 14 hits, with eight doubles, three of which came from Derek Jeter, who went 5 for 5 on the night. The Cubs used six pitchers, with only two (Zambrano and Cruz) going more than a single inning. With the win, the Yankees took a 1-0 series lead and Zambrano continued his postseason streak of losses and no decisions.

Game 2

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Chicago 

  1. CF Kenny Lofton
  2. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
  3. RF Sammy Sosa
  4. LF Moises Alou
  5. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  6. 1B Eric Karros
  7. SS Alex Gonzalez
  8. DH Ramon Martinez
  9. C Paul Bako

New York

  1. 2B Alfonso Soriano
  2. 1B Nick Johnson
  3. SS Derek Jeter
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. LF Hideki Matsui
  6. C Jorge Posada
  7. DH Jason Giambi
  8. 3B Aaron Boone
  9. RF Karim Garcia

Game 2 saw Chicago’s ace, Mark Prior (18-6, 2.43 ERA), take on the Yankees’ left-handed Andy Pettitte (21-8, 4.02 ERA). The Cubs prevailed 6-3, bottling up a Yankee attack that had ripped the Cubs for 11 runs on 14 hits the previous night. Prior went 6 innings, picking up a win with a 3 run, 9 hit performance in which he struck out 5 and threw 108 pitches.

Continuing a postseason trend, the Cubs scored in the first inning, something they had done eight times in the 2003 postseason and five times in the NLCS. Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, a 20-game winner during the regular season and a strong postseason performer, ran into trouble right away when Lofton bunted up the 3rd base line to reach. Grudzielanek hit a grounder into right center for a base hit, giving the Cubs runners on the corners with no outs. Sosa then lined a single into right center field, scoring Lofton and giving Chicago their first lead of the series. Grudzielanek got to third, and scored when Moises Alou grounded into right for a base hit on an apparent bad play from Nick Johnson (but not an error). Aramis Ramirez hit into to left center field to score Sosa, giving the Cubs 5 hits in their first 5 at-bats. However, Eric Karros ended the streak, grounding into a double play. Moises Alou got to third, but Alex Gonzalez ended the inning by flying out to left field.

Mark Prior was dominant in the 2003 postseason, winning a two-hit masterpiece against Atlanta in the NLDS and beating the Marlins in a Game 2 blowout in the NLCS. Although Prior picked up the win in Game 2 of the World Series, the sailing was not as smooth. In the first inning, the Yankees picked up their ninth double of the series when Nick Johnson hit one off the center field wall. Derek Jeter then failed to reach base for the first time in the series, grounding out to short and holding Johnson at second. A walk to Bernie Williams put two men on, but Matsui flew out to deep right to end the inning.

A side note: some of you might be reading and wondering why on earth Alfonso Soriano is leading off for the Yankees if he can’t get on base (o-6 at this point). In truth, Soriano struggled in the real series as well, leading most Yankee fans (including radio personality Mike Francesa) to question his abilities as a leadoff man and second baseman. Francesa himself argued that Soriano was not a leadoff man, but rather an outfielder who should have been deeper in the lineup, and if he insisted on staying at leadoff, he should be traded away.

The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the 2nd as Lofton tried to bunt again, this time unsuccessfully. In the bottom of the 2nd, Giambi hit into right center field for a single. Aaron Boone then reached base for the first time in the series with a fielder’s choice that got Giambi out at second. Karim Garcia then hit into right field to move Boone to third, and an error by Kenny Lofton who “couldn’t handle a fly ball” hit by Alfonso Soriano allows Boone to score. With Soriano on first and Garcia at third, Nick Johnson struck out to end the inning. The Cubs lead after two, 3-1.

The Cubs left two men on in the 3rd inning, but the Yankees took advantage of their opportunities. A two-out double by Hideki Matsui led to another run when Posada singled to right, making the score 3-2 at the end of the inning. The Cubs left another man on in the 4th, but the Yankees missed an opportunity for (seemingly) the first time in the series when Jeter struck out with runners on the corners in the 4th, ending the inning. A Cubs hit in the 5th was answered with a solo home run by Posada in the same inning, tying the game. Jeter ruined another scoring chance by flying out to end the 6th with Nick Johnson on 2nd.

Pitching changes took place in the last three innings, and the Cubs widened the gap. A one-out double by Grudzielanek in the 7th and a deep fly ball by Sosa to right that moved Grudzielanek to 3rd set up the go-ahead run, which was scored when Moises Alou singled to left field. This spelled the end of the night for Andy Pettitte, who left the game after 6.2 innings pitched, giving up 4 runs on 11 hits with a walk and 5 strikeouts. Pettitte threw 105 pitches on the night. Left-hander Chris Hammond entered the game for New York and induced an Aramis Ramirez groundout.

Mysteriously, Kyle Farnsworth entered the game in the 7th inning, despite a solid outing from Prior. Farnsworth led the Cubs’ relief pitchers in innings pitched and strikeouts, but didn’t record a save the entire year. Farnsworth is famous in Chicago for being the man that was slammed in the Steve Bartman game, allowing the Marlins to score 4 runs after replacing Prior. However, Farnsworth had better luck in Game 2 of the series, as the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the 7th.

Karros walked to begin the 8th, and a double by Alex Gonzalez put runners on second and third with no outs. Ramon Martinez then hit to left for a single, scoring both Gonzalez and Karros to make it 6-3 Cubs. Bako, Lofton and Grudzielanek stranded Martinez at first and the inning ended. Each team recorded another hit but left each man on base, and the game ended 6-3 in favor of Chicago. Closer Joe Borowski entered in the 9th inning to collect his first save of the series for the Cubs.

Mark Prior got the win for Chicago, and Andy Pettitte received a loss for his effort. The Cubs ensured there would be at least 5 games, and at least three played at Wrigley Field.

Game 3

kerry-wood

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-11-39-15-pm

Chicago 

  1. CF Kenny Lofton
  2. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
  3. RF Sammy Sosa
  4. LF Moises Alou
  5. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  6. 1B Eric Karros
  7. SS Alex Gonzalez
  8. C Paul Bako
  9. P Kerry Wood (later PH Paul Simon)

New York

  1. 2B Alfonso Soriano
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. 1B Jason Giambi
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. LF Hideki Matsui
  6. C Jorge Posada
  7. RF Karim Garcia
  8. 3B Aaron Boone
  9. P Mike Mussina (later PH Nick Johnson)

The Yankees continued their trend of leaving men on base in Game 3. After an explosion in Game 1, the Yankees hit 20 times for only 7 runs in Games 2 and 3. Game 3 saw the Yankees’ Mike Mussina (17-8, 3.40 ERA) take on the Cubs’ Kerry Wood (14-11, 3.20 ERA). Wood pitched 5 innings of shutout baseball before leaving after the 6th, while Mussina ran into early trouble.

Kerry Wood’s first out – Yankees leadoff man Alfonso Soriano – perfectly sums up just what kind of pitcher he was. The exact text entered in the simulation says “A.Soriano is frozen on strike 3”. Wood was an outstanding power pitcher, and often used his “knee-buckling” slider to cause called strikes, as hitters often looked for his high-90’s fastball. Indeed, it can only be assumed Wood had his slider working in Game 3, something that was absent in his Game 7 NLCS collapse.

With two outs, Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams both singled, but Hideki Matsui grounded out to end the inning.

The Cubs did not score in the first inning (they left Sammy Sosa on first), but after Kerry Wood struck out the side in the second, they began to work against Mike Mussina. Aramis Ramirez and Eric Karros hit for singles, and an Alex Gonzalez double drove them both in to make it 2-0 Chicago. Paul Bako grounded to second and moved Gonzalez to third, but Kerry Wood could not bunt him home. Lofton then ended the inning with a popout to Aaron Boone, leaving Gonzalez at third.

Wood recorded his fourth straight strikeout of the game against Mike Mussina. Jeter hit a two-out single through the hole to left field, but the inning ended when Giambi struck out, Wood’s sixth K (three called) of the game. The third inning saw Chicago’s first home run of the series: Sammy Sosa cranked one to right center field to make it 3-0. Aramis Ramirez doubled, but Karros grounded out to end the scoring threat.

A one-out single for Matsui began a serious Yankee charge in the 4th. Wood walked Jorge Posada and allowed a two-out infield hit to Aaron Boone to load the bases. Mike Mussina ended the inning for the Yankees by flying out to Eric Karros, as the Yankees left 3.

Mussina got it together after ruining a bases-loaded opportunity, going 1-2-3 in the 4th and 5th innings, recording two strikeouts. The Yankees left one on in the 5th, and finally got their offense together in the 6th. Wood began the inning by walking Matsui and Posada – Wood walked 100 batters in the regular season to lead the MLB – before striking out Karim Garcia. Boone hit a single into right field that was apparently too shallow for Posada to score on – either that, or he made some sort of baserunning error that was not recorded in the simulation. At any rate, Boone’s single loaded the bases, and with Mussina coming up, Nick Johnson was called upon to pinch hit to avoid another blown bases loaded chance. Mussina left with 5.0 innings pitched, 3 runs allowed on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts in only 66 pitches. Nick Johnson flew out to right center, but it was deep enough for both Matsui and Posada to tag up, with Matsui scoring the first Yankee run of Game 5 to make it 3-1. Wood then hit Alfonso Soriano in the leg with a pitch, loading the bases once again before recording a critical strikeout of Derek Jeter to end the inning.

Chris Hammond entered the game for the Yankees, the same man who allowed a run in relief in Game 2, and allowed the biggest Cubs offensive inning of the series to that point. Alou led off with a single, followed by a grounder to right that Ramirez reached on. Karros then hit through the hole to LF to score Alou. Gonzalez singled to right, scoring Ramirez and putting Karros on third. Paul Bako then doubled to center, scoring both Gonzalez and Karros to make it 7-1. First baseman Randall Simon then entered the game to pinch hit for Kerry Wood, who left the game after 6.0 innings pitched, 1 run allowed on 6 hits with 4 walks and 9 strikeouts. Wood threw 109 pitches on the night.

The Yankees put in Juan Acevedo to counter Randall Simon, and induced a groundout, advancing Bako to third. Kenny Lofton then tripled, scoring Bako. Grudzielanek and Sosa then ended the innning with Lofton on third.

Todd Wellemayer entered to pitch for Chicago, and allowed a leadoff home run to Jason Giambi to make it 8-2. However, the Yankees wouldn’t score again until the 9th inning.

The game saw no scoring threats until the 9th inning for New York. Kyle Farnsworth entered the game in the 8th inning and got through the 8th inning with one man left. He ran into trouble in the 9th when Derek Jeter grounded in between first and second. Karros fielded the ball, but made a bad throw to Farnsworth that allowed Jeter to reach. Giambi then singled to center and Bernie Williams was walked, loading the bases. Hideki Matsui doubled to right center field, scoring Jeter and Giambi and likely making every Cub fan in attendance panic. Joe Borowski then entered the game for Farnsworth with men on 2nd and 3rd with no outs but pitched extremely well, striking out Posada and Aaron Boone and inducing a groundout from Karim Garcia, ending the game in an 8-4 win for Chicago.

The game gave the Cubs the lead in the series as Mussina was credited with the loss, while Wood was the winning pitcher. Alex Gonzalez was a standout player in Game 3, as he drove in 3 runs.

Game 4

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Chicago 

  1. CF Kenny Lofton
  2. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
  3. RF Sammy Sosa
  4. LF Moises Alou
  5. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  6. 1B Eric Karros
  7. SS Alex Gonzalez
  8. C Paul Bako
  9. P Matt Clement (later PH Paul Simon)

New York

  1. 2B Alfonso Soriano
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. 1B Jason Giambi
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. LF Hideki Matsui
  6. C Jorge Posada
  7. RF Karim Garcia
  8. 3B Aaron Boone
  9. P Roger Clemens (later PH Nick Johnson)

Leave it to the Cubs to ruin their best starting pitching performance up to that point in the series by seeing their bats vanish, recording only two base hits against the Yankee pitchers Roger Clemens, Chris Hammond, and Mariano Rivera. Matt Clement for Chicago pitched perhaps his best game of the postseason, but still lost in his only World Series appearance.

Clement (14-12, 4.22 ERA) began the first inning well, inducing a groundout from Alfonso Soriano and striking out Derek Jeter. However, his perfect game bid was unceremoniously ended by Jason Giambi, who hit a two-out solo home run down the right field line to make it 1-0. Bernie Williams then singled, but the inning ended on a Hideki Matsui groundout.

In a classic World Series game dictated by defense and pitching, Roger Clemens (17-9, 3.91 ERA) performed masterfully in what was, at the time, speculated to be his last ever major league game. No batter for either team got on base for the next four sequences. Aramis Ramirez barely saved a ground ball that would have given Derek Jeter a base hit in the top of the 3rd, but gathered it in to make the out.

On a night where Chicago never even got a man to third base, the Cubs had perhaps their best chance to score in the bottom of the 3rd, when Paul Bako drew a one-out walk. Clement unsuccessfully attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Kenny Lofton got on with an infield single. Mark Grudzielanek ended the scoring threat by grounding out to Aaron Boone.

A gutsy move by Dusty Baker prevented the Yankees from widening the gap in the 4th inning, as Hideki Matsui smashed a double into center field. With Jorge Posada due up, Baker elected to intentionally walk the him, issuing the first free pass of the series likely based on his .364 batting performance up to that point (4 for 11). With men on first and second, Karim Garcia flew out to Aramis Ramirez to end the inning.

The Cubs left a man on in the 4th, and the Yankees left two on in the 5th. The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Yankees, who, to that point, were outhitting the Cubs 5 to 1.

Chicago ruined another scoring chance in the 5th, as Alex Gonzalez drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Matt Clement after a Bako flyout. With Gonzalez on second, Kenny Lofton struck out to end the inning.

Clement issued two walks in the 6th but recorded three strikeouts, fanning Garcia and Aaron Boone with two men on.

Neither team mounted a scoring threat until the 8th inning for New York. A tiring Matt Clement exited the game after an outstanding pitching performance that saw him go 7.0 innings, allowing only 1 run on 6 hits and 3 walks. He also struck out 7, throwing 106 pitches.

Kyle Farnsworth entered the game for the Cubs in the 8th and should be the goat for this game: a leadoff walk for Bernie Williams proved costly, as Williams scored from first on a Hideki Matsui left center field double to make it 2-0 Yankees. Farnsworth then struck out Posada and Garcia, and with Matsui on second, an interesting call was made by Dusty Baker. The Cubs issued their second intentional pass of the night to Aaron Boone, who not only was having an unsuccessful series at the plate, but was 0-3 already on the night. I can only assume that Boone was walked because Baker thought Clemens would bat, but seeing an opportunity to go for the kill, Joe Torre pinch hit 1B Nick Johnson for Clemens. However, the inning ended when Johnson flew out to Kenny Lofton.

Chris Hammond entered to pitch for the Yankees, a bold move considering he had given up runs in relief the previous two games, and Randall Simon pinch hit for Farnsworth. The Cubs went down 1-2-3 to end the inning.

Mike Remlinger made his first relief appearance of the series, and looked shaky in the top of the 9th. A leadoff single to Soriano was followed by a strikeout of Jeter, but Soriano stole 2nd base. After striking out Giambi, the Cubs issued their third intentional walk of the night to Bernie Williams to allow the left-handed Remlinger to pitch to Hideki Matsui, who had been monstrous throughout the series but had yet to face left-handed pitching. Matsui ended the inning by flying out to Eric Karros.

The 9th saw the Cubs mount a momentary fight against solid gold closer Mariano Rivera (a man with 40 saves in 2003) on a base hit by Moises Alou. However, Aramis Ramirez hit into a double play to end the game.

Game 4 would be Clement’s only World Series appearance, but he pitched admirably in his start, one that ended in a 2-0 loss. Clemens might have been even better, allowing a single hit in 7 innings of work with 6 strikeouts on 87 pitches.

It is at this point that I noticed the performance thus far of Hideki Matsui, who, four games in, was making an extremely strong case for Series MVP if the Yankees went on to win. Through four games, Matsui went 6 for 16 (.375) with 3 walks, 5 RBI and an amazing 5 doubles, recording a double in all four games (twice in Game 4).

Game 5

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Chicago 

  1. CF Kenny Lofton
  2. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
  3. RF Sammy Sosa
  4. LF Moises Alou
  5. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  6. 1B Eric Karros
  7. SS Alex Gonzalez
  8. C Paul Bako
  9. P Carlos Zambrano (later PH Paul Simon, PH Ramon Martinez)

New York

  1. 2B Alfonso Soriano
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. 1B Jason Giambi
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. LF Hideki Matsui
  6. C Jorge Posada
  7. RF Karim Garcia
  8. 3B Aaron Boone
  9. P David Wells (later P Chris Hammond)

Game 5, the last played at Wrigley Field, would see a Game 1 pitching rematch between Carlos Zambrano (0-1, 24.30 ERA in the series) and David Wells (1-0, 1.50 ERA in the series). After being battered around in Game 1, Zambrano rebounded with an occasionally shaky but solid effort that saw him go 7 innings. David Wells was great again, holding the Cubs to a single run in 6.1 innings of work.

The first inning did not start well for Chicago. Again, just like in Game 4, the Yankees hit a 1st inning home run, this time courtesy of Derek Jeter after an Alfonso Soriano flyout. Zambrano issued a two-out walk to Bernie Williams, but Hideki Matsui fouled out to end the inning.

The bottom of the 1st and top of the 2nd saw both teams leave men on first base, and the Cubs got going in the bottom of the 2nd. A lead-off single by Ramirez was followed by a single up the middle from Alex Gonzalez. Bako then grounded to Soriano, who forced out Gonzalez at first but could not turn the double play in time, leaving Ramirez at third base and Bako at first with two outs. With Zambrano up, the Cubs could not afford to pull their starter in just the second inning, and instructed Zambrano to swing: this wasn’t the craziest idea in the world, considering Zambrano hit .240 in 80 at-bats in the regular season, but he struck out to strand two on and end the inning at 1-0.

After the Yankees left Giambi on base in the 3rd, the Cubs’ Kenny Lofton reached base on a single to left field. Grudzielanek then hit instead of bunting, something the Cubs did often in the postseason when Lofton got on, and hit into a fielder’s choice, with Lofton out at second. Grudzielanek was then caught stealing second base, and Sosa struck out to end the inning.

The Yankees left men on the corners in the 4th after a walk, a base hit and a fielder’s choice, with David Wells grounding out to end the inning. The Cubs left another two men on in the 4th, with Bako striking out to end the inning.

The 5th inning saw the Yankees score again, as Jeter grounded to right for a one-out base hit. A walk by Giambi and a fielder’s choice that got Jeter to third and Bernie Williams to first allowed Hideki Matsui to score Jeter on a line drive base hit to center, making it 2-0 Yankees.

Derek Jeter played a Carlos Zambrano ground ball badly to allow a base hit, and Lofton doubled down the right field line to put runners on second and third with no outs. The Cubs shot themselves in the foot again, as Grudzielanek grounded out to Jeter, Sosa hit a shallow flyout and Alou grounded out to Jeter.

The 6th saw a heads-up play by Carlos Zambrano prevent what could have been a two on, two out situation against Derek Jeter. A one-out base hit by Aaron Boone was followed by a David Wells bunt attempt: he grounded it right back to Zambrano, who had the presence of mind to throw to second for the forceout. This allowed the speedier Aaron Boone to be retired, while the much slower and heavier David Wells was left at first. Alfonso Soriano then walked, but Wells’ presence at second negated a potential hit-and-run situation. However, Jeter struck out to end the inning without further incident.

The game saw teams leave men on base until the bottom of the 7th, when the Cubs mounted their first successful scoring sequence of the game. Bako led off with a double to right center field, and Randall Simon was chosen to pinch hit for Carlos Zambrano as Baker did not want to see another scoring opportunity slip away. Zambrano pitched 7.0 innings, allowed 2 runs on 7 hits, walked 5 and struck out 4 on 115 pitches. Randall Simon grounded out to second base, but Bako was able to get to third. Kenny Lofton grounded up the right field line and a bad fielding play by Jason Giambi allowed Bako to score. This spelled the end of the night for David Wells, who left after 6.1 innings pitched and allowing a single run to score on 9 hits and a walk. Wells struck out 6 and threw 91 pitches for his last starting action of the World Series.

Left-handed Chris Hammond made his fifth straight appearance in the series, and struck out Grudzielanek before inducing a flyout from Sammy Sosa to end the 7th with the Yankees leading 2-1.

Kyle Farnsworth would pitch the last two innings for the Cubs and allow only one man on base, issuing a two-out walk to Bernie Williams in the 9th. Mariano Rivera entered in the 9th for the Yankees and recorded a 1-2-3 inning on just 9 pitches, as Ramon Martinez flew out to end the game. Rivera collected his second save of the series, as the Yankees took a 3-2 lead and were a single game away from winning their 5th championship since 1996.

Zambrano was credited with the loss, making him 0-for-the-postseason in winning starts, but performed much better than his disastrous Game 1 outing. David Wells won his second game of the series, making a strong early case for series MVP, at least on the pitching side.

This was the first game that Hideki Matsui of the Yankees did not hit a double, but he did record a 2-out RBI that put the Yankees ahead. The Cubs left ten men on base in Game 5, which marked a series high. In Games 4 and 5, the Cubs recorded just 11 hits in 18 innings for a single run.

Game 6

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-12-19-57-pm

Chicago 

  1. CF Kenny Lofton
  2. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
  3. RF Sammy Sosa
  4. LF Moises Alou
  5. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  6. 1B Eric Karros
  7. SS Alex Gonzalez
  8. DH Ramon Martinez
  9. C Paul Bako

New York

  1. 2B Alfonso Soriano
  2. 1B Nick Johnson
  3. SS Derek Jeter
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. LF Hideki Matsui
  6. C Jorge Posada
  7. DH Jason Giambi
  8. 3B Aaron Boone
  9. RF Karim Garcia

Game 6 saw Chicago’s ace, Mark Prior (1-0, 3.00 ERA) take on Andy Pettitte (0-1, 5.40 ERA). Chicago, attempting to extend the series, turned in a catastrophe of a performance in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd that saw the Bronx Bombers turn in their 5th Fall Classic win in the last eight seasons. The Yankees’ margin of victory, 14 runs, was the largest in any world series game since October 2nd, 1936, when the Yankees clattered the New York Giants 18-4 in Game 2. It also marked the worst elimination game loss for a team in World Series history.

The first inning was a brutal sign of what was to come. Andy Pettitte entered and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and the Yankees immediately started chipping away at Mark Prior. Alfonso Soriano led off with a base hit before stealing second base. Nick Johnson struck out, but Soriano stole third base as well. With the infield drawn in, Jeter sharply grounded a ball into left-center field past Alex Gonzalez, who was credit with a poor fielding play, to score Soriano. Bernie Williams then hit a flare into right center field for a double, scoring Jeter from first base to make it 2-0. Matsui then grounded into left for a base hit, scoring Williams from second and adding a third run, the same number of runs that Prior gave up in his entire 6.0 innings of work in Game 2. Prior struck out Jorge Posada before walking Jason Giambi, then striking out Aaron Boone on a called third strike to stop the bleeding at 3-0.

Moises Alou and Eric Karros both got on in the 2nd, but Gonzalez popped out and Martinez struck out to end the inning. A double by Alfonso Soriano and an infield single by Nick Johnson gave the Yankees runners on the corners in the 2nd inning, but a strikeout by Jeter and a flyout in foul territory by Bernie Williams failed to score Soriano.

Pettitte walked Bako to open the inning, but he was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice by Lofton, who then stole second base. Grudzielanek grounded out, moving Lofton to third, and Sosa was hit by a pitch, moving runners to the corners. Moises Alou flew out to end a scoring threat that could have possibly gotten the Cubs back into the game – at least momentarily.

The next 12 batters for both teams were retired in order, before Prior would enter what ultimately became his last inning in 2003. In the bottom of the 5th, Nick Johnson led off with a line drive single into right field, followed by a walk to Derek Jeter. Bernie Williams struck out, but Hideki Matsui hit a line drive down the left field line to score Johnson. With runners on first and third, Posada lined out, but Jason Giambi put perhaps the last nail in the coffin with two outs: a three-run home run to right field that barely cleared the wall to make it 7-0 Yankees. This marked the end of the night and season for Mark Prior, who suffered a bitter end to what would be the best season of his short career. Prior went 4.2 innings on the night, allowing 7 runs on 9 hits, walking two and striking out 9. He threw 94 pitches on the night and ended Game 6 with a 13.50 ERA.

Juan Cruz entered the game for Prior, seeing his first action since Game 2. The right-hander struck out Aaron Boone to end the inning, with the Yankees possessing a seemingly insurmountable 7-0 lead.

Both teams would leave one man on in the 6th inning, and the Cubs did so once again in the 7th. The 7th inning began one of the most brutal innings for the Cubs all season, and was the last time either team scored in the series. With Juan Cruz still pitching, Bernie Williams hit a single to right, moving to second on a Matsui walk. Posada then “smoked” a line drive into right center field for a double, scoring both Williams and Matsui to make it 9-0. Todd Wellemayer then replaced Cruz, who went only 1.1 innings and allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk. His ERA for Game 6 stood at 20.25.

The first batter Wellemayer faced was Jason Giambi. If there was ever an at-bat that personified Game 6, pitting the game’s MVP versus the game’s goat, this was it: Giambi took Wellemayer deep for his second home run of the night, this time a 2-run shot, to make it 11-0. Aaron Boone then ripped a line drive down the right field line before Wellemayer issued walks to both Karim Garcia and Alfonso Soriano to load the bases. Wellemayer was then pulled, failing to record a single out in Game 6. He was credited with allowing four runs on two hits and two walks on just 16 pitches. His ERA read “-“.

Antonio Alfonseca entered the game for the stricken Wellemayer, inheriting a bases-loaded, no out jam. Alfonseca then walked Nick Johnson, scoring Aaron Boone to make it 12-0. Derek Jeter grounded a hit up the middle to score both Karim Garcia and the speedy Alfonso Soriano to make it an unfathomable 14-0 score in favor of New York. This would cap off the scoring for the Yankees, as Bernie Williams grounded into a double play and Matsui grounded out to leave Nick Johnson on third base.

Juan Acevedo entered the game for the Yankees, and although he allowed a leadoff double to Kenny Lofton, was able to control the game and retire Grudzielanek, Sosa, and Alou to end the 8th. Lofton’s double was the final hit for the Cubs in the series.

The 9th inning saw the Cubs use two pitchers, as Dave Veres made his first appearance of the World Series. Veres appeared in 31 games in the regular season and recorded a 4.68 ERA. Veres induced a groundout from Jorge Posada before walking Jason Giambi. Aaron Boone flew out to right center, becoming the last batter Veres would face as Kyle Farnsworth was selected to pitch to Karim Garcia, who hit a shallow flyout to right center field for the Yankees’ final at-bat of the 2003 season.

Mariano Rivera then entered in the 9th inning. Ramirez grounded out, Eric Karros walked, but Alex Gonzalez and Ramon Martinez mercifully ended what proved to be a disastrous outing for the Chicago Cubs and a historic victory for the New York Yankees. The 14-0 gashing was the worst loss for the Cubs in the postseason all year. Andy Pettitte went 7.0 innings in Game 6, allowing no runs on four hits and a walk, striking out 6 on a 97-pitch night at The Stadium.

The Yankees won the 2003 World Series in six games, winning games 1, 4, 5, and 6. In reality, they lost in six games to the Florida Marlins, losing the final game in a shutout loss just as the Cubs did.

Composite Box

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
New York Yankees 6 2 3 6 6 1 9 1 2 36 64 1
Chicago Cubs 3 2 1 0 0 5 6 2 0 19 49 2

MVP

Candidates:

Jason Giambi – 9 for 19 (0.474), 8 RBI, 5 walks, 4 home runs

Derek Jeter – 12-28 (0.429), 8 RBI, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 1 home run

David Wells – 2-0, 1.46 ERA, two runs allowed in 12.1 innings

Hideki Matsui – 9 for 24 (0.375), 4 walks, 8 RBI, 5 doubles

My Pick: Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui, Co-MVPs

David Wells was a close third, and he was initially my pick after finishing the simulation just at first glance. Once I put all the stats together, Giambi had a better series stat-wise, but Matsui’s hits were arguably more important. The pitching of David Wells was extremely important in Game 5, but less so in Game 1. Derek Jeter had an outstanding Game 1 (5-5, 3 doubles) but was quiet in comparison for the rest of the series and didn’t get important hits. He also struck out too much.

Chicago’s Problems: Men on Base, Sammy Sosa’s disappearing act

Chicago left a ton of men on base in the series, and never seemed to get clutch hits when they needed them. A lot of their hits and runs came when the game was out of reach. Then there’s Sammy Sosa, who was a main component of Chicago’s offense. In the series, Sosa got on base on only 5 of 24 of his at-bats, going 4-23 (0.174) hitting with 6 strikeouts. He was walked once and hit a single home run after hitting 40 in the regular season and two in the NLCS.

Game Logs

The complete logs of the games can be found at these links.

Game 1: https://www.whatifsports.com/slb/Boxscore.aspx?gid=7616365&pid=0&pbp=0&tf=0

Game 2: https://www.whatifsports.com/slb/Boxscore.aspx?gid=7616462&pid=0&pbp=0&tf=0

Game 3: https://www.whatifsports.com/slb/Boxscore.aspx?gid=7616537&pid=0&pbp=0&tf=0

Game 4: https://www.whatifsports.com/slb/Boxscore.aspx?gid=7616542&pid=0&pbp=0&tf=0

Game 5: https://www.whatifsports.com/slb/Boxscore.aspx?gid=7616925&pid=0&pbp=0&tf=0

Game 6: https://www.whatifsports.com/slb/Boxscore.aspx?gid=7616986&pid=0&pbp=0&tf=0

 

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