Yanks extend postseason win streak to seven over Rangers
Posted: Wednesday October 06, 1999 12:32 PM
The Yankees' Bernie Williams watches his three-run homer go over the wall in the sixth. AP
NEW YORK (AP) - Sure, they're not the 1998 Yankees. In their postseason opener, they looked even stronger.
Picking up right where they left off last October, New York blanked Texas yet again, with Orlando Hernandez allowing two hits in eight innings and Bernie Williams driving in six runs as the World Series champions beat the Rangers 8-0 Tuesday night.
"I always pitch well with pressure," Hernandez said. "I like to have pressure when I pitch."
Williams, showing why the Yankees paid $87.5 million to keep him, had a two-run double off loser Aaron Sele in the fifth, a three-run homer off Mike Venafro in the sixth and an RBI single off Jeff Fassero in the eighth.
So much for the talk earlier this year that he doesn't hit under pressure.
"I thought I was going to have a terrible night," Williams said. "I was sleepy and dragging a little bit and it was cold. Something happened when they said the lineups. Something inside of me just woke up, said it's time to play."
He started slowly, with a groundout in the first. He wasn't happy.
| Driving Force |
| Most RBIs in a postseason game|
| Player || Team || RBI || Opp. || Date |
| Mo Vaughn |
| BOS |
| 7 |
| CLE |
| 9/29/98 |
"I said you just got to go out and play hard, you got to wake up. This is the postseason. This is not the regular season anymore."
He also made a sliding catch of Juan Gonzalez's liner to center field with two on in the third inning.
"I didn't think I had a shot at it," Williams said. "At the last minute, the ball stayed up longer than I had anticipated."
Williams, seeming distracted by his impending free agency, was 0-for-11 against Texas in last year's series and 9-for-48 (.188) in the postseason. He nearly signed with Boston before the Yankees upped their offer at the last moment in December.
"He's a special person, a special talent," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "For him to have not only the night he had tonight but the year he had this year, it's very impressive. The night he had tonight was unbelievable."
Texas has just one run in its last 42 innings in the playoffs, all against New York, and has lost seven straight postseason games since beating the Yankees in the Rangers' first one, in 1996.
"I don't care Yankee Stadium, Yellowstone Park, it doesn't matter. We can score more runs than this by accident," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said.
After a day off, the series resumes at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, with Andy Pettitte (14-11) pitching for New York against Rick Helling (13-11).
Last year, when New York came off its record 114-48 regular season and flattened Texas in a first-round sweep, holding the Rangers one run and a .141 average.
This year, the Yankees' record slipped a league-high 16 wins to 98-64, creating doubt whether they were strong enough to win their third Series title in four years.
But "El Duque" roped the Rangers and improved to 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in postseason play (one run in 20 innings). Jeff Nelson followed with a hitless ninth.
"They're all great hitters," Hernandez said through a translator. "Luck was on my side."
While Texas has led the American League in hitting for two straight years, the Rangers haven't scored a single run in their last 22 postseason innings.
Texas mounted its best threat in the first inning, loading the bases on a one-out double by Ivan Rodriguez and walks to Rusty Greer and Rafael Palmeiro. But Hernandez got out of it by striking out Todd Zeile to end the inning.
After that, Hernandez allowed only a single by Rodriguez in the third.
It was reminiscent of his first playoff start, when the Yankees were trailing Cleveland 2 games to 1 in last year's championship series. "El Duque" got into a two-out jam in the first, retired Jim Thome on a flyout to the right-field warning track, then blanked the Indians through seven innings.
Sele, who lost Game 3 to the Yankees last year, fell behind in the second inning because of a bad defensive play by Rusty Greer in left.
Tino Martinez singled leading off the second, and was erased on Darryl Strawberry's grounder to second, which Mark McLemore bobbled slightly.
But Strawberry, who was diagnosed with colon cancer during last year's series against the Rangers and missed the entire postseason, hustled down the line and beat shortstop Royce Clayton's throw to avoid a double play. Greer then seemed to lose Ricky Ledee's curving liner in the lights, and it sailed past him to the wall as Strawberry scored on what was ruled a double.
Sele shook Greer's hand in the dugout after the inning, as if to say, "No problem," but the way the Rangers hit in the playoffs, even one run is too much to overcome.
"That's four unearned runs as far as I'm concerned," said Oates, angry with his fielders.
Williams doubled over the head of center fielder Tom Goodwin in the fifth following one-out singles by Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill. Sele left after walks to Ledee and Jeter in the sixth, and a run scored when O'Neill's grounder to third skipped into outfield off Zeile.
Sele, 11-3 in his final 16 starts, allowed four runs - three earned - and six hits in five-plus innings. He also walked five, but two were intentional.
"We have to play better than this," he said. "We have to pitch better, hit better and field better to beat them."
Notes: Texas has about 2,000 tickets remaining for Game 3 on Saturday, nearly all obstructed views, and about 6,000 remaining for Game 4 on Sunday. ... Williams has a record 17 RBIs in the first round, three more than O'Neill's prior mark. ... Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer sustained cuts to the left jaw and ear when he was hit by Chuck Knoblauch's foul ball. ... New York has won five straight postseason openers. The Yankees have won eight postseason games in a row, starting with Hernandez's win over Cleveland.
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