Work in Sports
Garcia, M's bullpen silence Yankees in ALCS opener
Freddy Garcia dominated for 6 2/3 innings in a six-hitter, and Alex Rodriguez and Rickey Henderson supplied the offense as the Mariners put the Yankees back in their postseason funk, beating New York 2-0 Tuesday night.
"There's no secret: We got shut down," said Paul O'Neill, who feebly went 0-for-3 and even got pinch hit for.
Garcia struck out eight as Seattle pitchers fanned 13, including Derek Jeter three times. Bernie Williams and Scott Brosius shot nasty looks at plate umpire John Hirschbeck when he called them out on strikes.
"If they pitch like they pitched tonight, then we're not going to win the series," Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson said.
While the Yankees are struggling, the Mariners are spurting with a mixture of youth and experience as they try to get to the World Series for the first time.
Despite trading Ken Griffey Jr. before spring training, they qualified for the playoffs as the wild card, then swept Chicago, the team with the AL's best record, 3-0 in the first round.
"They are going to come out fighting," said Rodriguez, whose solo homer in the sixth nearly went into the left-field upper deck. "We have to attack him, attack him early and be ready to go to war, because they are going to come out real hungry."
Garcia, one of the young pitchers obtained two years ago from Houston in the Randy Johnson trade, allowed just three hits and handled the two-time World Series champions like an old pro.
"He certainly pitched well when he had to," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He pitched pretty well when he didn't have to."
The 24-year-old right-hander, who missed nearly three months with a broken right leg, stranded runners at third base in the third and fifth innings and escaped a two-on, no-outs jam in the sixth.
With the crowd on its feet, Mariners manager Lou Piniella went to the mound.
"I was feeling pretty good, and I had a lot of confidence," Garcia remembered telling his manager.
"He got three tough hitters out," Piniella said. "To have a young pitcher come into a playoff game for us like Garcia did, he should be very proud of his effort tonight."
With the crowd again on its feet, Williams singled leading off the ninth as Sasaki repeatedly stepped off. Justice struck out, and Tino Martinez singled up the middle to bring up Jorge Posada, who homered off Sasaki twice in three at-bats in the regular season.
The biggest signal of the Yankees' desperation was when Torre batted Glenallen Hill in the eighth for O'Neill, just 4-for-22 in the playoffs, including three infield hits. With a runner on first and two outs, Hill whiffed.
"Paul's been struggling a little bit and I just felt it was a chance to maybe pop one where the lefty had to pitch to the right-hander," Torre said. "It's not something I like doing and may not do again."
Even Piniella was surprised.
"Joe caught us totally off guard," Piniella said.
The Mariners bullpen has been stellar, pitching 14 scoreless innings in the postseason.
"They've been there for us all year," Piniella said. "I'm fortunate in that I've got some good power arms out there and they're all resilient. It's one of the reasons we're here."
New York, which hit just .244 and scored only 19 runs in its 3-2 win over Oakland in the division series, was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
After taking a 6-0 lead against the Athletics in the first inning of Game 5, the Yankees have scored one run in their last 17 innings, looking like the team that lost 15 of its last 18 games during the regular season.
Neagle, bypassed in the first round after ending his regular season with three straight supbar starts, pitched for the first time since Sept. 27, and was wild but pretty effective. He started six of 32 batters with 3-0 counts but walked just three and gave up three hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"He pitched well enough to win," Torre said.
Neagle kept it scoreless until the fifth, when Mark McLemore doubled with two outs and Henderson, cast off by the crosstown Mets this spring, slapped a single in the hole between first and second and through into right.
Oakland showed during the first round that O'Neill's arm isn't what it was. O'Neill stutter-stepped as he picked up the ball, and McLemore scored easily ahead of O'Neill's bouncing throw.
Rodriguez then led off the sixth with a smash that hit high off the screen attached to the left-field foul pole.
"I thought was going to go foul," he said.
Down 2-0, Yankees' fans were nervous. A two-run deficit seems insurmountable these days.
Meanwhile, the Mariners keep gaining confidence.
"It does," John Olerud said, "take a little pressure off."
Notes: Pregame introductions were canceled because it was 48 degrees and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner didn't want his players standing out in the cold. ... The teams combined for 22 strikeouts, an ALCS record. ... Jeter ranged from shortstop to make a great over-the-head, inning-ending catch on David Bell's looper to left in the second.