Yankees cautiously optimistic heading home for Game 3
Updated: Friday October 19, 2001 10:37 PM
The three-time defending World Series champions know as well as anybody how tenuous a hold that can be.
"We are just coming off a series firsthand where we've seen that 0-2 doesn't mean the series is over," Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius said Friday. "Certainly, in a best-of-seven, we know there are two more wins to get. There is not a mood of overconfidence."
The Yankees have come a long way in the past week, from arriving in the Bay Area down 2-0 to Oakland in the first-round last Friday to their position now -- two wins away from a fourth consecutive AL pennant.
"The only thing you don't want to do is assume you're going to win because you have a lead," New York manager Joe Torre said. "We were down two games in a five-game series and all of a sudden here we are. So there are a lot of reminders."
But this is clearly a more comfortable situation than the Yankees found themselves in a week ago.
Only two teams have recovered from an 0-2 deficit -- none after losing the first two games at home -- since the LCS went to a best-of-seven format in 1985 and both came 16 years ago.
Despite the long odds, Mariners manager Lou Piniella guaranteed that the series would return to Seattle for a sixth game after Thursday's Game 2 loss.
"I just wanted them to know that as a manager, I've got the utmost confidence that we'll take this thing back to Seattle," Piniella said. "That's my job as a manager."
That the only sign of bravado came from Piniella and not the Yankees, who have control of the series, is not surprising. New York plays with a machinelike efficiency in the postseason, winning 10 consecutive series under Torre.
The Yankees rarely say anything to fire up the opposition and don't need their opponent to motivate them. Piniella's players appreciated his boldness.
"I like that fire," Moyer said. "We're here to play. We're here to compete. I hope we can fulfill that and take this series back to Seattle. But we can't take it back to Seattle until we play tomorrow."
Moyer is the ideal pitcher for the Mariners in this situation. He won two games in the opening round, including the Game 5 clincher against Cleveland, and beat New York twice during the regular season.
His approach of keeping the ball away and hitters off-balance works well in spacious Yankee Stadium.
"I enjoy pitching here," Moyer said. "I really enjoy coming to Yankee Stadium."
More important than Moyer is for the Mariners to generate some offense. After leading the majors in runs scored during the season, Seattle has scored only 20 in seven postseason games -- just four against the Yankees.
An uncharacteristic lack of clutch hitting has done the Mariners in. They are hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position against the Yankees and 6-for-46 (.130) overall after batting .295 -- second in the majors -- in that situation in the regular season.
AL RBI leader Bret Boone hasn't driven in a run in the postseason. He's not the only hitter to struggle: John Olerud (.125), Mark McLemore (.130), Mike Cameron (.217) and David Bell (.227) are also slumping.
"You're facing good pitching in the playoffs and the Yankees have good pitching," Piniella said. "You've got to give them credit. You've got to take advantage of situations."
The Mariners will have to reverse that trend against postseason stalwart Hernandez. Despite winning only four games in an injury-plagued regular season, Hernandez has always been his best in October, when he is 9-1 in the postseason.
Hernandez beat the Mariners twice in last year's LCS, including the Game 6 clincher.
"I try to never relax, whether it be the regular season or the postseason," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "I always try to keep the same amount of pressure on myself. Two victories doesn't mean we've won anything. It just means that we're ahead in the series."
Which is a much better situation than the Yankees were in a week ago.