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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 15:08 GMT
Beckett blossoms for Marlins
Baseball's latest pitching sensation took winning the World Series in his 23-year-old stride in New York.

Josh Beckett pitched his second complete game shut-out of the series to steer the Florida Marlins to a 4-2 win over the disbelieving Yankees.

MVP HONOURS FOR BECKETT

"I can't believe we don't have a game tomorrow," said the laid-back Texan in the midst of the Marlins post-game celebrations.

"That's kind of the weird thing right now. I get to go deer hunting."

It's unlikely that Beckett managed to get out with his rifle on Sunday, given the demands made on World Series winners - and especially the Fall Classic's MVP.

The young pitcher earned the Most Valuable Player award in his first post-season campaign.

Another Yankees World Series success was the expected outcome when the Florida beat the Chicago Cubs to win the National League.

But that's not the way Beckett and his team-mates viewed their unlikely run to the season's climax.

"We wanted to come in here, and that's who we wanted to play," he said of facing the baseball's most famous team.

"If you are going to beat somebody, why not beat the best?"

He did just that with the first complete-game shutout in a Series clincher since Minnesota's Jack Morris in 1991.

Beckett also become the youngest pitcher to blank an opponent in a Series finale since Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen beat St Louis in 1985 aged 21.

Josh Beckett's fast ball tops 95 miles per hour
When you're that young, you don't know what fear is
Yankees boss Joe Torre on Beckett

Marlins manager Jack McKeon could only marvel at his young charge's nerves of steel.

"This guy has got the guts of a burglar," he said. "He's mentally tough, and I knew he had the confidence to go out there and do the job.

"This guy is going to be something special."

Not that he doesn't need nurturing and, when necessary, a little protection.

After Beckett lost game three on Tuesday, McKeon started him on three days' rest for the first time in his 25-month major league career.

Why take such a gamble with a young arm coming off a 108-pitch outing?

On Saturday, Beckett pitched fearlessly against the Yankees, trusting his fastballs and his breaking balls to anyone on any count.

He struck out nine, walked two and threw 71 of 107 pitches for strikes.

McKeon added: "A lot of people doubted it, but I said he could do it."

Yankees manager Joe Torre saluted Beckett's achievement, saying: " When you're that young, you don't know what fear is."

Beckett hails from Spring, not far from the home of Texan pitching legend Roger Clemens, who has now called time on his playing career.

How apt that, in his final game as a Yankee, 'The Rocket' saw the blossoming of a talent whose name might one day be mentioned in the same breath as his own.





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