Both of Seattle's Game 3 runs were set up by bunts, including one by Alex Rodriguez in the fourth inning that Piniella didn't call. "That's how you have to play at Safeco Field," said Rodriguez, who had 41 homers and zero sac bunts during the regular season. "I wouldn't try that play in any other ballpark."
Piniella's fingerprints were all over everything else the Mariners did—Guillen's game-winning bunt past first baseman Thomas, for example. White Sox skipper Jerry Manuel acknowledged after the series that his team was "outmanaged." Added Seattle outfielder Jay Buhner, who hit one of the Mariners' four homers in the series, "This year Lou has had things he hasn't had here before: veterans on the bench, a bullpen, veteran starters. Lou was way ahead of every situation in this series. It was awesome to watch him manage."
Piniella also has experience, having relied on a strong corps of relievers to guide the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series tide in 1990. In fact, only that Reds bullpen and the bullpen of the Yankees' 1981 ALCS-winning team, on which Piniella played, matched the Mariners' run of scoreless innings in a postseason series. "Oh, I don't know," was Piniella's answer when asked if this team reminded him of the Cincy squad. "One thing that is similar is that I had a bullpen with power arms over there, and we have a power bullpen here."
Piniella made that observation after Game 3, between celebratory sips of vodka from a Styrofoam cup. Sasaki's sake—a bottle of which stands in Buhner's locker-stayed on the shelf for this party. Better that it's conserved. He wasn't expecting to crack it open until later in October anyway.