NEW YORK -- The "C" stitched on Jason Varitek's uniform and absent but implied on Derek Jeter's stands for captain.
Yet in a matinee in the Bronx, under a cloudless sky and before the Yankees' largest-ever second-day crowd, the "C" signified clutch.
Varitek, in a ninth inning that did justice to the hype given this season-opening series, hit a one-out, tying homer off the inimitable Mariano Rivera. Minutes later, to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Sox closer Keith Foulke left an 87-mile-per-hour, full-count fastball up and away to Jeter.
"A bad pitch to the wrong guy," Foulke said.
Jeter swung, and Jeter rounded the bases. His opposite-field, walkoff shot -- the first regular-
season walkoff homer of his career -- sent the Yankees to a 4-3 win and the 54,690 who skipped work or school into a state of ecstasy. The Sox fell to 0-2 and send Tim Wakefield to the mound today in a sweep situation for the Yankees, who in all their gluttonous splendor will give the ball to Mike Mussina. "We escaped today," said Yankees manager Joe Torre.
They did, but the Yankees accomplished more than that, showing they can get to Foulke. He held them to a single hit, and fanned six, in six awesome innings in the American League Championship Series last October. He'd gone 11 playoff appearances and 29 appearances last season, a total of 40 games, without taking a loss.
The last time he was beaten, in fact, was by this same team, in Fenway Park, July 23, 2004, on a ninth-inning RBI single by Alex Rodriguez.
"It's tough to swallow," said Foulke, who, like Rivera, hadn't pitched since Thursday. "We didn't play very well [Sunday]. We put some runs up. To go out there and throw it away, it's hard to walk in the clubhouse after that."
That's because, after so much went so wrong in the 9-2 opener Sunday night, the Sox had something of a late-inning comeback in the making. The bullpen had picked up Matt Clement, pitching 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, one-walk baseball.
John Halama, who'd relieved Clement in the fifth, had plunked Jason Giambi to load the bases, then escaped with a double play off the bat of Bernie Williams. Alan Embree had come in in the seventh and gotten two outs, one on a strikeout of Giambi, while touching 95 on the gun. Foulke had sent down Williams, Tino Martinez, and Tony Womack in order to end the eighth.
And Varitek, hitting seventh, had picked up the offense, lining a Rivera cutter into Row 1 of the right-field bleachers, tying the game at 3-3.
With that Rivera blew his 49th career regular-season save and ninth against the Sox. He was lights out in 53 of 57 chances last season, but two of the four blown saves were against the Sox -- July 24 and Sept. 17. Including Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS, he's now blown three consecutive saves against Boston and seven since the start of the 2003 season.
Familiarity with Rivera might breed comfort for the Sox, but they aren't prepared to acknowledge an edge.
"He's been doing this too long to lose an edge to anybody," Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Foulke and Rivera wound up with the decisions, shifting the spotlight off the debuts of Matt Clement and Carl Pavano, signed by the Sox and Yankees for a collective $65 million this offseason.
Early on, Pavano looked like he was a kid spinning a Wiffle ball at home in his childhood backyard in Southington, Conn. He whiffed seven of the first 12 batters he faced before giving up a solo home run to David Ortiz with one out in the fourth.
He fanned Nixon, Ramirez, and Ortiz swinging and Millar looking in succession his first trip through the Boston lineup and struck out Nixon swinging and Ramirez looking his second go-round. He left, after 6 1/3 innings, to a near-standing ovation.
Asked if he was nervous going in, Pavano said, "No," before acknowledging, "I'm lying. Today when I was waking up I was thankful that it was a day game so I didn't have to sit around and think about it. I tried to put my emotion aside and slow things down as much as I could."
Clement, meanwhile, threw just eight of 23 first-pitch strikes and victimized himself with a high pitch count. Clement, like David Wells Sunday night, lasted just 4 1/3 innings. Two games into the season the fifth inning has come to be for Sox starting pitchers what the par-3 12th at Augusta National is to golfers.
Though he gave up just five hits, Clement walked three and hit a batter (Jeter).
Before the game Francona, talking about Clement, said, "Everybody's going to rush to judgment today. Either he's going to be an All-Star or a has-been because of this one game."
He went 1-2-3 through Jeter, A-Rod, and Gary Sheffield to begin the game but ran into difficulty in the third, when he allowed all three of his runs, two earned. After hitting Jeter on the hand, Rodriguez hit a grounder that ate up Edgar Renteria. Sheffield grounded out, scoring Jeter, and then Hideki Matsui lined Clement's go-to pitch, a slider, into the seats.
"It was a little flat," Matsui said of the pitch through translator Roger Kahlon. "I was able to hit it pretty well."
Matsui, in two games, is 6 for 9 with two home runs and five RBIs.
"[Clement] kept us in the game," Varitek said. "He made one mistake to Matsui.
"I look at the good things. We played better. We made some big pitches. We chipped away and came back. We're not completely on all cylinders. If we play the way we did and the bats come around, we'll win some games."