Work in Sports
By the book
Yankees take Game 3 in predictable fashion
By Stephen Cannella, Sports Illustrated
It was just like old times in the Yankees' clubhouse after their 8-2 win over the Mariners in Game 3 of the ALCS. New York had taken a 2-1 lead in the series with a victory lifted straight from the Yankee Manual of Winning Baseball, one built on a relentless offensive attack, solid defense, a strong outing by starter Andy Pettitte and flawless work by the bullpen. In short, for the first time this October the Yankees looked like, well, the Yankees.
"Yeah, probably," said first baseman Tino Martinez when asked of this win felt like a return to normal for him and his mates.
"Good pitching, moving guys around on offense. We played real well as a team."
No questions about what was wrong with the Yankees' bats. No questions about a team pressing at the plate. No questions about tension in the dugout as scoreless innings mounted on the scoreboard.
"Tonight was more like when we were winning, the type of grinding we do scoring a run here or a run there," said manager Joe Torre. "I was certainly a lot more comfortable with that kind of offense."
Instead of the offense, talk centered on the performances by starter Andy Pettitte, who went 6 2/3 innings, dodging around the nine hits he gave up and allowing only two runs, and closer Mariano Rivera, who set a postseason record by extending his scoreless streak to 33 1/3 innings.
The Mariners hammered Pettite for five hits and a run -- and left four runners on base -– in the first two innings. Realizing that the Seattle hitters seemed to be sitting on fastballs inside, Pettitte and catcher Jorge Posada changed their strategy.
"They had a good approach, looking for the fastball a little bit," said Posada. "After the third inning we decided we had to use both sides of the plate."
After the second, Pettitte allowed just four more hits and one more run. The Mariners' only other serious threat came in the eighth, when, with the Yankees leading 4-2, Alex Rodriguez led off with a single and stole second. Righthander Jeff Nelson struck out Edgar Martinez with Rodriguez at second. Rivera then retired Stan Javier and John Olerud to end the inning. Minutes later, in the top of the ninth, the Yankees broke the game open with four runs.
"Striking out Edgar, that was a big turnaround," said Tino Martinez. "That was huge."
Rivera's entrance after that strikeout made the rest of the game a formality, and his teammates knew it. The righthander hasn't allowed a run in the postseason since 1997; that Rivera will come in, shatter a few bats and preserve whatever lead he's handed to him has been the one thing the Yankees have been able to count on every day this October.
Does Derek Jeter feel the game is over when he sees Rivera loping in from the pen?
"Oh yeah, always," he said after Game 3.
And what about a Subway Series, which is looking more and more likely? The Yankees would hear none of it. "Our goal is to get to the World Series," said Torre. "Whoever that team is across the field, you tip your hat top them."
"We're not even thinking about that," said Tino Martinez. "Our focus is completely on Game 4."