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New York takes 2-0 lead in AL championship series

Yankees hang on for win

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2001

SEATTLE -- Nothing changes for the New York Yankees: A berth in the World Series is their birthright.

Those 116-win Mariners are two losses from becoming a footnote in the record book.

Quickly showing Seattle there's life in those old bones, the three-time defending World Series champion Yankees headed home with a 2-0 lead in the AL championship series -- quite a contrast from the 0-2 first-round deficit they faced when they headed to Oakland last Friday.

Slumping Scott Brosius sparked a three-run second inning, Mike Mussina slid by without his best stuff and New York beat the heralded Mariners 3-2 Thursday night.

''We just have to keep doing whatever we're doing,'' Mariano Rivera said.

Freddy Garcia, who got the Mariners' only two wins over New York in last year's ALCS, pitched on three days' rest for just the second time in his career. He allowed five of his first 10 batters to reach and couldn't escape a second-inning jam.

Seattle couldn't get out of the hole and headed to New York faced with the formidable task of having to win two of three just to send the series back to Safeco Field. The series resumes Saturday at Yankee Stadium, where Orlando Hernandez (9-1 in the postseason) faces Seattle's Jamie Moyer.

''We're going to be back here to play Game 6,'' Mariners manager Lou Piniella said in a MacArthurlike postgame pronouncement. ''I've got confidence in my baseball club. We've gone to New York and beaten this baseball team five of six times and we're going to do it again.''

He remembered his playing days in 1981, when his Yankees took a 2-0 World Series lead over Los Angeles, which then won four straight.

''You can start swinging the bat and get on a roll,'' Piniella said. ''It only takes one game.''

Seattle's players weren't sure a public declaration of defiance was necessary.

''That's good. That's great. He doesn't have to tell us that,'' Mark McLemore said.

Mussina, who saved New York's season with seven shutout innings that beat Oakland 1-0 in Game 3 of the first round, showed why the Yankees gave him $88.5 million over six years.

Other than a two-run homer to Stan Javier in the fourth -- the only earned runs off Mussina in his last 22 postseason innings -- he gave up just three singles. While his curveball didn't have the bite, his fastball didn't have the spark and his changeup was flat, Mussina retired his next eight batters after the homer -- Javier's first in 63 postseason at-bats.

''It speaks volumes -- the ability not to lose your cool,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Moose is generally popular in Seattle, where the Mariner Moose mascot helps fans get their mojo risin', but this Moose isn't a fan favorite at Safeco. Because of the 32-year-old right-hander, Seattle is in danger of matching the 1906 Chicago Cubs, who also won 116 games, then lost in the postseason, 4-2 to the crosstown White Sox in the World Series.

Ramiro Mendoza escaped trouble in the seventh when McLemore hit an inning-ending grounder with two on. Derek Jeter again saved the Yankees in the eighth when he calmly stretched to get a low-and-wide throw by Tino Martinez for a forceout at second.

''He never looses his cool,'' Torre said. ''Yeah, I did swallow a bit.''

Rivera completed the six-hitter with five straight outs -- striking out three -- for his 23rd postseason save, his 22nd in a row since Sandy Alomar's home run in 1997. Piniella was angry that after Rivera was told to come in, he got three extra warmup pitches in the bullpen.

''This looks like this guy makes his own rules,'' Piniella said.

''Nobody told me. I kept throwing,'' Rivera responded. ''I don't know if there's different rules for myself. But if there is, it's good, I guess.''

Brosius, 35, was 1-for-20 in the postseason before his second-inning double -- which followed a single by Martinez and a walk by Jorge Posada -- gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

''Whew! Finally! It's been a long time since I ran the bases,'' said Brosius, the 1998 World Series MVP.

His drive off a 96-mph fastball hit low in the left-field corner -- on the concrete under the wall's padding -- and skipped by Javier, allowing the slow-footed Posada to score from first.

''It's kind of a strange game,'' Brosius said. ''You wish you could come to the postseason clicking every single time, but it doesn't always work that way.''

Chuck Knoblauch, 5-for-8 in the series, scored Brosius with a sinking liner to center that fell just in front of Mike Cameron, who trapped the ball after barely missing on his try for a diving grab.

''I thought I caught it,'' Cameron said.

That was enough for the Yankees, who have won five straight after falling in an 0-2 hole against Oakland in the division series.

New York, seeking to become the first team to win to four straight pennants since the Yankees of 1960-64, even got another backhand flip play, bringing back memories of Jeter's game-saving flip in Game 3 at Oakland.

After fouling off seven straight pitches, Dan Wilson one into the right-center field gap in the second, sending Javier from first to third. Paul O'Neill, the 38-year-old right fielder whose two-run homer carried the Yankees to a 4-2 win Wednesday, ran down the ball and flipped it to center fielder Bernie Williams, whose quick throw in prevented further advancement.

Seattle has just four runs and 10 hits in the first two games. The Mariners were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 0-for-10 in the series and 6-for-46 (.130) in the postseason. Bret Boone, who led the AL with 141 RBIs during the season, has none in 28 at-bats during the playoffs.

And it doesn't get easier, with Hernandez and Roger Clemens coming up.

Still, the Yankees aren't gloating just yet.

''Being on the heels of coming back from an 0-2 deficit,'' Brosius said, ''we certainly know that this series is not over.''

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