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Baseball World Series Victor May Be Decided on Saturday - 2003-10-24


The World Series could be decided Saturday when the Yankees and Marlins return to New York to play Game Six. Florida leads the series three games to two, and is one win away from its second World Series title. New York would have to win both Saturday and Sunday to take the championship title. Suddenly the 26-time World Champion New York team is facing an uphill climb.

History is no longer on the Yankees' side. In 39 World Series appearances, the Yankees have returned home with a three to two deficit only three times, and each of those times they have lost the World Series.

After dropping two consecutive games in Florida, the Yankees look injured and hobbled compared to the young Marlins. Slugger Jason Giambi is bothered by an aching knee and may be the designated hitter but won't play first base. Derek Jeter is playing through a shoulder injury that could require surgery in the offseason. Leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano was benched in Thursday's game because of his hitting slump, and starting pitcher David Wells lasted just one inning before leaving due to back pains.

New York manager Joe Torre says his team is in an unfamiliar situation, but he won't allow himself to think about the prospect of losing.

"Certainly when you hope there are two games left in the season, you can't afford to even think that way, you just have to see what you have and it's going to have to be good enough to get the job done," Mr. Torre said. Florida has been the master of comebacks throughout the postseason. They surged to the World Series after falling into a three to one hole against the Chicago Cubs during the National League Championship Series.

Florida has won the World Series once, in 1997. And the last time New York was the World's champions was in the year 2000.

New York catcher Jorge Posada said the Marlins have the right combination of talent and energy. "They are a tough team. They're here because they know how to play ball. They don't beat themselves. They have good defense. Their pitching is young, it's fresh and it looks like they look like they feel comfortable out there. They do a lot of things on the mound," he said.

Florida will send starter Josh Beckett to the mound to start game six against New York pitcher Andy Pettitte. Beckett started game three in New York, where he struck out ten and allowed two runs in the Marlins' six to one loss. Pettitte, who has a three-game winning streak this postseason, will become the pitcher with the most postseason wins in history if he takes home the victory Saturday night.

Home field advantage could work in the Yankees' favor.

Still, Florida's Juan Pierre said the heat is on the Yankees, regardless of home field advantage. "The pressure kind of shifts to them a little bit. I don't know how much pressure can be on the Yankees because of the caliber of baseball they're always playing and the history they have behind them, but it's always tough to know you're in a must-win situation," Mr. Pierre said.

The Yankees would have to win both Saturday and Sunday night to earn their 27th championship title. Even though the team is down one game, they may recall the words of the former Yankee Yogi Berra, who said, "It ain't over 'til it's over."