By then, Clemens was hopeless. A flyball pitcher even on his best days, he was probably doomed shortly after the national anthem, when a great cloud of balloons was released on the field and blew swiftly out over Fenway's leftfield wall. In the top of the second, Red Sox third-baseman John Valentin sent a Clemens slider floating in the same direction for a 2-0 Boston lead that would be all Martinez would need.

Clemens left in the third in favor of Hideki Irabu, who would stay on to take eight for the team. (Outside the park, the invisible hand was at work. The miracle of cellular communication enabled the various sidewalk ticket entrepreneurs to know precisely when Irabu got up in the New York bullpen. Prices immediately plummeted.) At that point, Fenway turned into something akin to the Village Gate— nothing more than a stage for a gifted soloist.

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