2001 MLB Postseason - A's vs. Yankees
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'He backed it up tonight'

Long's two homers help A's take opener from Yankees

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Posted: Thursday October 11, 2001 2:22 AM
  Ron Washington, Terrence Long Terrence Long is congratulated by third base coach Ron Washington after his second home run of the game. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Terrence Long looked terrible in his first at-bat. He quickly made some key adjustments.

Long homered twice Wednesday night to help lead the Oakland Athletics to a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the opening game of their first-round AL playoff series.

"I got two pitches and I didn't miss them," Long said. "I started swinging at strikes. Get good pitches to hit -- that's it."

Facing Roger Clemens with a runner on second base and nobody out in the second inning, Long fanned on an outside-corner fastball with a halfhearted swing.

But Long came back to the dugout and told Oakland starter Mark Mulder that he still planned on coming through.

"He said to me from the get-go, 'I'm going to get you two -- either offensively or defensively,'" Mulder said. "Terrence says a lot of stuff. He backed it up tonight."

And he did it with two Long balls.

After quickly falling into a two-strike hole leading off the fourth, Long dropped the barrel of his bat on a low-inside pitch and lined it just over the right-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

Long opened the eighth with a drive to right-center off Sterling Hitchcock for a 4-1 lead.

In one night, Long created more of a splash in New York than he did in his brief stint with the Mets, with whom he went hitless in three at-bats in 1999.

Traded to Oakland that July as part of a deal for pitcher Kenny Rogers, Long batted .288 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs last season, finishing second in the AL rookie of the year voting to Seattle closer Kazuhiro Sasaki.

"Over there they were relying on veteran guys and I had to wait my turn," Long said of his time with the Mets.

"The good thing is I got a chance to come over here and play. I think that's the best thing that could've happened to me."

He hit just .158 (3-for-19) with a home run in last year's playoff series against the Yankees, which the A's lost in five games.

This year, Long had another steady season, batting .283 with 12 homers and 85 RBIs as he played in all 162 games. And he's off to a much better start in the postseason.

"It felt real good, but I couldn't really relax and enjoy it until the game was over," Long said. "If you want to pick a place to get it done, I think nine out of 10 guys would say Yankee Stadium."

At 25, the A's are banking on Long as a big part of their future. In mid-August, they gave the outfielder an $11.6 million, four-year contract extension.

It was the first multihomer game of Long's career, and the first for Oakland in the postseason since Dave Henderson did it in Game 3 of the 1989 World Series against San Francisco.

Long, one of only a dozen major leaguers born on Feb. 29, hit just .182 (6-for-33) with no homers and three RBIs in nine games against the Yankees this year. He leaped into prominence, however, in Game 1 of the playoffs.


 
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