Work in Sports
SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Payback was swift and severe.
After failing to generate any offense over the first four games of the American League Championship Series, the heart of the order erupted for five runs in the fifth inning as the Seattle Mariners posted a 6-2 triumph over the New York Yankees in Game Five.
The win got Seattle within 3-2 in the series, but Game Six and Game Seven, if neccesary, are at Yankee Stadium. Since 1985, just two of 12 teams have rallied from 3-1 deficits to win the ALCS.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Seattle rallied as Alex Rodriguez had a two-run single, Edgar Martinez a two-run homer and John Olerud a solo blast. The offense was more than enough for starter Freddy Garcia (2-0), and the inning's run total equaled the total scored by the Mariners over the first four games.
Entering the game, Rodriguez was 4-for-14 with an RBI while Martinez and Olerud each were 3-for-14. But all three contributed in the decisive inning.
"Today was an example where, in these big games, you need the middle part of your lineup to come through for you," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "And that's exactly what happened today. Alex with two big RBI, and Edgar with the two-run homer, and Olerud with the solo shot, and you put five runs on the board very quickly."
Garcia worked his way out of a jam in the top of the fifth and Seattle went to work immediately in the bottom of the inning.
Mark McLemore beat out a bunt and former Yankee Rickey Henderson walked. Mike Cameron bunted the runners over and Jeff Nelson, who held righthanded hitters to a .157 average during the season, came on for New York starter Denny Neagle (0-2).
Rodriguez greeted the reliever with a two-run single for a 3-2 lead. Three pitches later, Martinez launched a long home run to center field for a three-run cushion and on Nelson's next offering, Olerud lined a home run over the wall in right field for a 6-2 lead.
"That was definitely what we needed," Olerud said. "I'm sure that's what everybody is thinking; that that was the big hit that we've been looking for this whole series. We just haven't done real well with men in scoring position. So to have Alex step up and get the big hit and drive in those runs, I think that was a big relief for everybody."
"I face those two guys all the time," Nelson said of Rodriguez and Martinez. "It's one of those things. We need to bounce back. ... It's frustrating but your either going to get them or they are going to get you. Today was their day ... I'm going to face these two guys every day in this series and I'll face them again."
Garcia allowed two runs and seven hits over five innings, walking two and striking out three. Jose Paniagua tossed a hitless sixth before he and Rhodes combined to walk three in the seventh.
Paniagua walked Derek Jeter to open the inning, but Rhodes struck out David Justice. Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez walked to load the bases, but Rhodes fanned Jorge Posada and pinch-hitter Glenallen Hill.
"I have faced him twice before and he made good pitches," Hill said. "That last pitch broke a foot and a half. It started outside and went in."
After breezing through the eighth, Seattle closer Kazuhiro Sasaki worked in and out of trouble in the ninth.
Neagle allowed three runs and three hits over 4 1/3 innings. He walked four, including three in the first, and struck out four.
"They got the clutch hits today. That's baseball," Neagle said.
"We knew it would be a tough battle. We knew they wouldn't lay down."
Nelson surrendered three run-scoring hits without retiring a batter.
"Nelson in the regular and postseason was one of the best setup men in the game but not today," Neagle said. "I was a little disappointed to be pulled but not surprised. It's Joe's call."
This could have been the last game in Seattle for manager Lou Piniella and Rodriguez, both of whose contracts expire at the end of the postseason.
"I think last night for the first time it hit me," Rodriguez said. "I had a hard time sleeping a little bit; because, you know, you might be facing the end, and you don't know really what the future holds for me. And for the most part in the season, I've been able to put that behind me and worry about the present. But for the first time last night, I had a hard time sleeping about the possibilities that this could maybe be it."
New York has the luxury of returning to New York with postseason aces Orlando Hernandez and Andy Pettitte well-rested. Hernandez, 7-0 in postseason play, is slated to start Game Six against Seattle's John Halama, who pitched six scoreless innings in Game Two.
"We won three straight in New York this year and back in 1995 we took three," Wilson said. "But we can't look past Tuesday."
"I feel better having "El Duque" and Pettitte on full rest," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You take a lot out of yourself when you pitch in postseason play. It may not show in the pitch count, but I think emotionally, you spend a lot when you pitch in these things. Sure, I like our chances, basically, because we have two of our best going; and hopefully, only one is enough."
Seattle broke on top with a run in the first. Cameron, Rodriguez and Martinez walked and Olerud lined a sacrifice fly to right. Neagle escaped further trouble by striking out former Yankee Jay Buhner.
New York took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Martinez hustled a base hit in the gap into a double and Posada singled. Paul O'Neill walked to load the bases and Luis Sojo lined a two-run double into left-center field. But Garcia got Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch and Jeter without the ball leaving the infield to keep the damage at a minimum.
"We squandered opportunities," Jeter said. "We had them on the ropes and could not do it today. We got to go back to New York."
The game took 4 hours and 14 minutes, the longest contest in LCS history.