NEW YORK -- Once, it was their own personal house of horrors, where leads disappeared, championship dreams went to die and the Red Sox seemed incapable of victory -- especially when they needed one most.
Yankee Stadium was the franchise's seventh circle of hell. Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.
The 2003 ALCS was the low point, a refresher course no one in New England needs or wants. There are gruesome slasher movies with more uplifting endings.
But beginning in 2004, it began to turn. When the Red Sox came storming back from being down three games to none, the ugly past was exorcized for good.
Which doesn't mean it's an easy ballpark in which to win, especially when the home team has the firepower in the lineup and a seemingly endless supply of hard-throwers on retainer in the bullpen. Tuesday night was a stark reminder of that.
The Sox survived, alright, but with zero margin for error. What looked like a comfortable three-run cushion heading into the bottom of the ninth became a perilous slog through the final three outs. How narrow a win was their 4-3, ALDS clinching triumph? It ended with the potential tying run on second, the potential winning run on first and uncertainty over whether the 27th out had been recorded. Let's go to the videotape.
Special assistant Tony La Russa, who has seen his share of these, sat in an office off the main clubhouse, with a satisfied smile on his face, perhaps unable to still process the harrowing ninth.