Yankees do it once again
By Josh Dubow
|Pitcher Andy Pettitte was named MVP of the ALCS.
To come back and beat Oakland after being down two games.
To beat the best team in baseball.
And to do it for a city that needed something to cheer about.
"This ballclub will be remembered by me forever," the New York Yankees manager said.
The Yankees did all those things, wrapping up their fourth straight trip to the World Series with a 12-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners in yesterday's Game 5 of the AL championship series.
A team that looked old and tired and was a home run swing away from being swept by the Athletics, the Yankees showed a resiliency that endeared them more than ever to their fans in this shaken city.
"Down 2-0 to one of the best clubs in baseball, you never, never, never doubted yourselves," Torre said in a toast. "This city needed something like this. We needed something like this."
MVP Andy Pettitte took a shutout into the seventh inning, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez homered and the Yankees put the bumbling Mariners away early and made a liar out of their manager, Lou Piniella, who guaranteed the series would return to Seattle.
Next up for New York is Game 1 of the World Series against aces Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Bank One Ballpark on Saturday.
The Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning thanks to third baseman David Bell's error and Williams' third homer in as many days.
The rest was just a formality as the Yankees brought a swift ending to Seattle's record-tying 116-win season, and won their 38th pennant.
"To get to this point is very gratifying," Martinez said. "I like to think it's destiny. The city's gone through a lot, the country's gone through a lot, but mainly the city. We try to represent New York City well."
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among the 56,370 fans cheering so loudly the stadium shook. The win was a wonderful distraction from the heartache and devastation endured by this city following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The Subway Series was terrific, but that was normal times," Giuliani said. "This was very needed. It was very important. I think some of the Yankees felt that pressure."
After Shane Spencer's sliding catch ended the game, Giuliani and Torre walked arm in arm to the mound to congratulate the celebrating players.
Afterward, a simple toast by Torre replaced the usual, raucous party in the winning clubhouse, a gesture of respect to the victims of the attacks.
"We can celebrate without throwing champagne around," Jorge Posada said.
The Yankees of Derek Jeter, Williams and Pettitte became the first team since their predecessors in 1960-64 led by Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Whitey Ford to win four straight pennants.
There was no more tough talk to come from Piniella on this night. All he could do was stare at the field and pop his chewing gum while the Yankees romped around the bases.
After two straight losses at Safeco Field to open the series, a defiant Piniella made a promise his team couldn't keep that the ALCS would return to Seattle for Game 6.
"First of all, I won't say it again," Piniella said. "You live and learn. I just had confidence in my team. That was it."
Yesterday, after becoming the first team in 53 years to lead the league in batting average, fielding and ERA, the Mariners could do nothing right.
Seattle committed one error, let three flyballs fall in front of outfielders for hits and threw a run-scoring wild pitch in a sloppy finish to a wonderful year.
After Martinez's three-run homer in the eighth inning, the fans chanted: "No Game 6! No Game 6!" as if Piniella and the Mariners didn't know that already.