Stymied by southpaws
Left-handed Mulder handcuffs Yankees in Game 1
Updated: Thursday October 11, 2001 1:28 AM
Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill and David Justice didn't have a clue against the left-hander Wednesday night as Oakland beat the Yankees 5-3 in the opener of their AL Division Series.
They combined to go 0-for-9 against Mulder and didn't hit a ball out of the infield.
"The guy threw a great game," O'Neill said. "He had great movement. He had great control. He shut us down pretty much all night."
During the regular season, the Yankees were 22-21 in games against left-handed starters, 73-44 in games started by righties.
The postseason opener showed why.
"We know coming in that their pitching is going to be tough, and that's why we need to match them," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Tonight, we were not able to do that."
Martinez struck out with a runner on third base in the first inning, while O'Neill grounded out with a runner on first in the second inning and a man on second in the sixth.
Mulder allowed seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, including just one for extra bases, a two-out double by Jorge Posada in the sixth.
"He ran the ball in on our lefties, ran it away from our righties," Martinez said. "This is the best I thought he threw the ball."
Justice, who has driven in three runs since Aug. 30 -- all in the same game -- looked lost at the plate, throwing his hip toward the third-base dugout on his swings.
He struck out twice and when he did connect, the result was a slow roller that catcher Ramon Hernandez picked up in front of the plate.
While Justice beat the throw to the bag, he was called out for running on the fair side of the baseline and interfering with first baseman Jason Giambi.
Torre could have dropped one of the three and started Shane Spencer as their right fielder or designated hitter. But he chose to go with his veterans.
Against lefties, the Yankees are a far less potent team. O'Neill hit .244 with two homers against them, Justice .214 with seven homers and Martinez .257 with 10 homers.
When Martinez finally connected for a two-run homer in the eighth, it was off right-handed reliever Jim Mecir.
But that's too far ahead. On Wednesday night, Mulder was the talk of the town, shutting down the three-time World Series champions.
"He's grown up in front of our eyes this year," Johnny Damon said, "and the scary thing about him: He possibly could become a better pitcher."