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Get those tokens ready

Yankees clinch AL pennant, train ride to Shea

Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2000

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter thinks the city will go crazy.

Joe Torre predicts it will pit father against son.

For the first time in 44 years, New York has a Subway Series, thanks to David Justice's three-run homer -- a towering drive that, appropriately, headed toward the No. 4 train.

''I hope that people behave themselves, because it's going to split a few families up, I think,'' Torre said after yet another thrilling comeback, a 9-7 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night that won the AL championship series 4-2.

''I have a feeling the city is not going to be the same for this next 10 days -- and maybe for some time after that,'' the Yankees manager said.

Fighting off weeks of doubts, the Yankees won their record 37th American League pennant, their third straight and fourth in five seasons.

Starting Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, it's baseball's equivalent of Hatfields vs. McCoys, Capulets vs. Montagues.

Despite his worst October outing, Yankees starter Orlando Hernandez lasted seven innings and became the first pitcher ever to go 8-0 in postseason play.

The Yankees were in an unaccustomed role this time: coming from behind.

They trailed 4-0 in the fourth and 4-3 in the seventh when Justice sent a pitch from Arthur Rhodes into the right-field upper deck, a drive that earned him the series MVP award.

Yankee Stadium shook.

''It was magical,'' said Justice, one of seven players on the 25-man roster acquired during the season. ''It was unbelievable when I rounded the bases, to see this place erupt.''

New York, seeking to become the first team to win three straight World Series since the Swingin' Oakland A's from 1972-74, had ended the season with 15 losses in 18 games. The Yankees lost the opener of their first-round series against Oakland and their second-round series against Seattle.

''We were written off,'' Justice said. ''We stuck together.''

It wasn't like 1998, when the Yankees won a record 125 games. Or even last year, when they went 11-1 in a postseason culminated by their second straight Series sweep.

''Probably the first easy thing we've done this year is get it over in six,'' first baseman Tino Martinez said. ''It's been an absolute battle, but we never gave up, and here was are playing in the World Series again.''

Once they went ahead, the Yankees broke open a tense evening. Paul O'Neill hit a two-run single and Jose Vizcaino, whose infield single started the inning, hit a sacrifice fly for a 9-4 lead.

It turned out they needed it. This year, they don't steamroll, they sneak by.

Alex Rodriguez, who went 4-for-5 in perhaps his final game for the Mariners, homered leading off the eighth and Hernandez left after a walk, having allowed six runs and seven hits in eight innings. He had never allowed more than three earned runs in a postseason start.

Mariano Rivera relieved and allowed a double to John Olerud, then a two-run double by Mark McLemore that hit off first base as two more runs scored, ending his postseason scoreless streak at 33 1-3 innings over three years.

But Rivera held on in the ninth.

And just 24 hours, 38 minutes after Timo Perez caught the final out of the NLCS at Shea Stadium, about 8 miles away, the final out of the Yankees tense season ended when Edgar Martinez grounded to shortstop with a runner on at 12:17 a.m.

And so a half century after Willie, Mickey and the Duke dominated baseball, it will be Bernie, Benny and El Duque in the first Subway Series since the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.

''I was at that last one, when Don Larsen pitched the perfect game against Brooklyn,'' Torre said.

Even Justice, a New Yorker for less than six months, appreciated the significance.

''New York can't lose,'' he said. ''Everything is going on between the city limits.''

Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a life-long Yankees fan, made it clear who he wants to win.

''I might take the subway, but the main thing would be to get here on time,'' he said.

The Mets watched carefully from afar as the scene unfolded in the Bronx. They said all the pressure is on the Yankees.

''When you're the defending champion and the team to beat, people gun for you all year long and play their best baseball against you,'' Mets general manager Steve Phillips said.

Seattle stormed to a 4-0 lead, getting consecutive RBI doubles from Rodriguez and Martinez in the first, and a two-run, upper-deck homer from light-hitting Carlos Guillen in the fourth. It wasn't enough.

''We wanted to bring the World Series to Seattle in the worst way,'' said manager Lou Piniella, like Rodriguez, his free agent-to-be shortstop, spending perhaps his final night in a Mariners uniform.

But John Halama, a Brooklynite who blanked the Yankees for six innings in Game 2, was chased in the third, when Jorge Posada hit a two-run double and O'Neill, fighting the biggest batting worst slump of his life, singled in a run on the next pitch.

Hernandez and Mariners reliever Brett Tomko both escaped jams in the middle innings, getting defensive help from their All-Star shortstops.

And then the game turned in a 39-minute seventh inning -- roughly the time it takes to go from Yankee Stadium to Shea, if the change of trains at Grand Central Terminal goes smoothly.

Vizcaino, one of the seven players who started spring training elsewhere, started the inning with a perfectly placed single in the hole between first and second base.

McLemore got to it, but his throw from short right field was just a little too late.

Chuck Knoblauch sacrificed him to second and Jeter singled just between Rodriguez, his rival and pal, and Guillen at third.

In came Rhodes.

In Game 2, the Yankees trailed 1-0 and been shut out for 21 innings when Justice doubled off Rhodes, sparking a seven-run eighth inning that gave New York a 7-1 win and tied the series.

In that game, umpires angered Justice by ruling he didn't check a swing on a 1-1 pitch,

This time, he got the call on a close 2-1 pitch.

''I was pretty sure he went around,'' Rhodes said. ''2-2, it makes a difference on my pitch selection. At 3-1, I came back with a fastball. I didn't want to walk the bases loaded.''

Justice, a June acquisition from Cleveland, gave double high-fives when he met Jeter and Vizcaino at home plate, more high-fives to Bernie Williams, Martinez and Luis Sojo by the dugout, then slammed his helmet down, adrenaline rushing through his veins.

''I guess,'' Justice said, ''you could say we're probably making history.''

Notes: The Yankees are the first team to win three straight pennants since Oakland from 1988-90. Teams have won three straight 17 times, with the Yankees accomplishing it nine times. ... It will be the 14th Subway Series. The Yankees held a 4-2 edge over the New York Giants and 6-1 over the Brooklyn Dodgers. ... Dan Wilson's soft single to right leading off the fifth stopped a record 42 at-bat hitless streak in postseason play and a 26 at-bat hitless streak in the LCS. Marv Owen went 0-for-31 for Detroit in 1934 and '35.



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