BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- Anaheim Angels manager Mike
Scioscia bypassed his closer and the result was another
thrilling win for the New York Yankees.
Bernie Williams' dramatic three-run homer with two outs in the
bottom of the eighth inning capped a four-run rally as the
Yankees posted an 8-5 triumph over the Anaheim Angels in the
opener of their best-of-five American League Division Series.
After Jason Giambi's single off the glove first baseman Scott
Spiezio tied the game, Williams crushed a 2-2 pitch from Brendan
Donnelly over the right field wall for his 17th career
postseason homer. The blast touched off a wild celebration at
the ballpark, reminiscent of the Yankees' dramatic postseason
home triumphs in 2001.
New York got home runs from Derek Jeter, Giambi and Rondell
White over the first five innings but trailed, 5-4, entering the
eighth as Anaheim got a pair of solo homers from Troy Glaus.
After Ben Weber (0-1) retired the first two batters in the
eighth, Alfonso Soriano and Jeter each walked on 3-2 pitches.
Scioscia did not call on closer Troy Percival, who had struck
out Giambi five times in five previous showdowns, and went with
lefthander Scott Schoeneweis. Giambi ripped a one-hopper that
deflected off the glove of Spiezio and past second baseman Adam
Kennedy to tie the game.
Scioscia again bypassed Percival and instead turned to Donnelly,
a 31-year-old rookie who was dominant following the All-Star
break but making his first postseason appearance. The
righthander got ahead of Williams 1-2 but grooved his sixth
pitch, which Williams lofted over the right field wall for his
seventh career Division Series homer.
"After I had two strikes I said, `Just cut down on your swing
and try to put the ball in play,'" Williams said. "The one thing
you don't want to do in that situation is strike out. You at
least want to put it in play, make some things happen. I was
able to hit a pitch. I think he was set up inside. He just
stayed right over the middle of the plate. I was able to hit it
"We have some exciting games here," Jeter said. "We just never
give up. That's the bottom line. We always think we have a
chance to wins games and score runs. It's pretty magical."
Anaheim's bullpen had the best ERA in the American League this
season. Percival converted 40 of 44 save opportunities in 2002,
but two of his four blown saves came when he entered in the
Scioscia got a rude introduction to managing in the playoffs as
the first three questions he was asked after the game revolved
around his decision to keep Percival out of the game.
"(If) we had Web face Jeter, we'd still have the opportunity to
bring Schoeneweis in for Giambi," Scioscia said. "I think with
where we were, how Web was throwing the ball, we didn't mind
that matchup. ... I don't mind Schoeny against Giambi; he's
done a good job the times that he's faced Jason. He made a good
pitch. Jason's strong. He didn't get all of it, but he got
enough of it to hit it."
Scioscia continued to defend his decision and Yankees manager
Joe Torre didn't second guess the decision.
"If we bring in Percy, we're going to start to extend him, I
think, running into trouble later in the series," Scioscia
added. "Our bullpen has done a fine job all year. I think they
understand their roles; they've been very, very good at their
roles and executing pitches. I thought Schoeny did a good job;
I really did. After that, we wanted to switch Bernie around to
have him hit from the left side. He beat us. It's tough going
through their lineup. They've got big guys at every turn."
"To use your closer on the road in a tie game is not out of the
question, but it doesn't happen very often," Torre said. "Mike
has had confidence in his whole bullpen because they've done a
great job as far as matchups and stuff."
Williams offered his take on the situation and attempted to put
himself in Scioscia's shoes.
"I think Mike was just taking a chance on the fact that I had
not faced Donnelly," Williams said. "It really affected my
at-bat because I didn't know what to expect. It's not until you
face a guy that you can formulate a plan to approach them."
"I thought maybe (Percival) would face Jeter," Giambi said. "I
didn't know. I knew if Jeter got on, I was facing Schoeneweis.
That's all I was concentrating on."
Anaheim's bullpen cost starter Jarrod Washburn a chance at a win
in his first postseason appearance. Washburn did gave up three
of the four homers but little else over seven innings.
New York starter Roger Clemens survived 5 2/3 rocky innings. The
veteran righthander was tagged for four runs and eight hits and
did not help himself with three walks.
"They made me work hard," Clemens said. "I had one or two long
innings. I found out firsthand how tough they are. ... I had
good stuff. They are very stingy when they get two strikes (on
them). They put the ball with two strikes."
The Angels turned four double plays and the Yankees two.
Game Two is Wednesday in New York, with the Yankees going with
veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte. The Angels, who are making
their first postseason appearance since 1986, counter with Kevin
The Angels must find a way to rebound from yet another playoff
disaster. In 1982, they won the first two games of their
best-of-five League Championship Series with Milwaukee, then
lost the last three games. In 1986, they held a 3-1 lead on
Boston before collapsing over the final three contests.
The Yankees, playing their first home postseason game since
recording three thrilling wins against Arizona in the 2001 World
Series, broke on top quickly as Jeter hit a solo homer with one
out in the first.
The Angels got even in the third when a throwing error by
catcher Jorge Posada led to a run, but Giambi hit his second
career postseason homer, a two-run blast in the fourth.
After White hit his first career postseason homer in the fifth,
Glaus led off the sixth against Clemens with a shot to left
field. He opened the eighth with a blast to left-center field
off Ramiro Mendoza and became the first Angel to hit two home
runs in a postseason game.