BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Yankees begin their
drive to regain what they feel is rightfully theirs on Tuesday
night when they open their American League Division Series
against the upstart Anaheim Angels.
New York had its string of three straight championships end last
season in a classic seven-game World Series loss to Arizona.
The Yankees took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning
of the decisive game but closer Mariano Rivera suffered his
first blown postseason save since the 1997 Division Series
After seeing its offense struggle in the postseason a year ago,
New York retooled and added four new position players and
improved its bullpen. The biggest acquisition was former Oakland
first baseman Jason Giambi, who lived up to the billing by
leading the Yankees with 41 homers and 122 RBI.
New York finished with baseball's best record at 103-58, only
the second time it has won more than 100 games under manager Joe
Torre. The Yankees easily won the American League East by 10
1/2 games over Boston.
Losing last year's World Series is definitely something that
does not sit well with New York's Game One starter, Roger
Clemens (13-6, 4.35 ERA). Clemens went 6 1/3 innings in Game
Seven against Arizona and allowed just one run.
"I think that not being the defending world champions now, when
you take a peek at your championship rings, I think it makes you
appreciate it more," Clemens said. "Sometimes you can get
spoiled in certain situations because your expectations are so
high and you reached those goals. Then to come up short, it was
just depressing because we knew we were going to lose two or
three pieces of a great team."
Clemens was chosen to take the ball in the opener in part
because of his success at home. The six-time Cy Young Award
winner is 19-2 with a 2.97 ERA over the last two regular seasons
at Yankee Stadium.
Clemens did not face the Angels this season and owns a 27-8
career record and a 2.50 ERA against them. He went 1-1 with a
4.37 ERA in three starts against the Angels with the Boston Red
Sox in the 1986 AL Championship Series, including a Game Seven
triumph in Anaheim's last playoff appearance.
"I think Roger's had a very good season," Torre said. "We talk
about the fact that he's 40 years old but he's still a power
pitcher. When he allows his ability to work for him, I think his
stuff has probably been more consistent this year than last
Clemens is 6-6 lifetime in postseason play and split two
decisions a year ago. In the Division Series, he is 1-3 with a
Plenty has changed for Anaheim since its last playoff
appearance, starting with the fact the team changed its name
from the California Angels. The Angels finished 27 games out of
a playoff spot a year ago and rebounded from a 6-14 start to
win a franchise-record 99 games and the wild card spot.
Anaheim does not have one player in its starting lineup with any
playoff experience and will be introduced to a hostile
environment on Tuesday. The Angels are 18-17 at Yankee Stadium
since the start of the 1996 season.
"I think when they get out there, I think they're going to be
fine," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're going to play
baseball, our type of game, we know the challenge of facing an
incredibly talented club as the Yankees. We feel we match up."
Scioscia will turn to his ace, Jarrod Washburn (18-6, 3.15) for
the opener. Washburn went 13-3 on the road this season with a
2.65 ERA and defeated the Yankees at home on August 1 by
yielding one run and four hits in seven innings in a 2-1
Washburn, a 28-year-old lefthander, is making his second career
start at Yankee Stadium. He lost on August 3, 2001 when he
yielded three runs and seven hits in seven innings in a 4-2
"I'm nervous," Washburn said. "I'm nervous before every start.
As I've said before, when I quit being nervous, it won't be fun
anymore. It's more of an excited nervous than anything, but
other than that, I'm pretty relaxed."
Washburn's presence on the hill has helped result in a
surprising start for New York with rookie Juan Rivera in left
field. Third baseman Robin Ventura will bat seventh and
designated hitter Rondell White will bat eighth in front of
Garret Anderson hit .306, had 56 doubles and drove in a
career-high 123 runs to lead Anaheim on offense. Leadoff hitter
David Eckstein hit .293 but enters in a 1-for-22 slump.
New York won four of seven meetings with Anaheim in the regular