Work in Sports
Garcia deep-sixes Yankees in the sixth
By Stephen Cannella, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK -- Remember the slump that the Yankees supposedly broke out of in Game 5 of the Division Series? Consider them back in.
The Mariners dominated New York hitters throughout their 2-0 win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS, but the shutout boiled down to one inning, the sixth. New York, trailing by two, had two runners on with none out and their 3-4-5 hitters due up. They had Seattle starter Freddy Garcia, who had allowed just three hits, on the ropes.
But it was the Yankees who finished the inning on the canvas. And it was the turning point of the game, and maybe a career as well.
"I have always said that Freddy has the potential to be like a Pedro because he has three dominant pitches," said Alex Rodriguez, who doubled the Mariners' lead to 2-0 with a home run off the left field foul pole to lead off the sixth.
"The one thing we emphasize when we talk to him is he has to establish all three pitches and not fall in love with just the fastball or the breaking ball or the changeup."
Garcia did a fine job of spreading his love around throughout Game 1, especially in the sixth.
After Chuck Knoblauch doubled and Derek Jeter walked to begin the inning, Lou Piniella sauntered to the mound. He had lefthander Arthur Rhodes warmed and ready in the bullpen, and with lefthanders Paul O'Neill and David Justice sandwiched around Bernie Williams (a switch-hitter who's slightly weaker from the right side) logic dictated that Piniella yank his young pitcher. He had, after all, gotten five shutout innings in Yankee Stadium from a 24-year-old who looked rattled and uneasy pitching against the White Sox last week. Shouldn't Lou not get greedy, and hand the game to a veteran reliever?
"I went out to make sure Freddy was OK," Piniella said. "He was throwing the ball well. There was no need, I didn't think, to get him at that point."
Turns out Lou, who has yet to make a wrong move with his pen this postseason, was right. Garcia mowed down O'Neill, striking him out with a nasty sinking fastball on the outside corner that O'Neill could only wave at. Williams then whiffed on a changeup. Justice then whacked a fastball deep to center that Mike Cameron caught on the warning track. Threat -- and, for all intents and Purposes -- Game 1 over.
Said catcher Joe Oliver, "That was the ballgame right there."
Did he think Garcia was gone when Piniella arrived on the mound? "No. Lou asked me how he was doing, and I told him he still had a lot of movement left. He made some great pitches. Freddy was a big-game pitcher tonight."
Piniella did remove Garcia the following inning, after he blew away Jorge Posada for his eighth strikeout of the night.
"I think Lou took him out at the perfect time," said Seattle second baseman Mark McLemore. "He left on a high note and has something to take with him for his next start, whenever that might be."
Probably Game 5. Assuming, of course, New York scores some runs before then.