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Yankees Take On That Look Again

After losing sloppily in the series opener, New York appears to be on a mission in ousting the Twins, 8-1.

October 06, 2003|Mark Herrmann | Newsday

MINNEAPOLIS — In this postseason, some teams have been upset, some teams have argued controversial calls and almost all of the teams have been up to their eyes in tension.

And the New York Yankees again proved they aren't just another team. They handled themselves the way they often do in these situations: They pitched extremely well, they hit very well, then they sprayed champagne.

Their story wasn't so much about beating the Minnesota Twins, 8-1, to clinch the AL division series, three games to one. It was that the Yankees found their stride.

They avoided drama, played a dominant game to complete a dominant series and earned a spot in the AL championship series for the sixth time in Manager Joe Torre's eight years.

They will play the Boston Red Sox or the Oakland Athletics, who will finish their five-game series tonight.

The Yankees avoided the fate of the favored San Francisco Giants, who were upset by the Florida Marlins, and the favored Atlanta Braves, who were upset by the Chicago Cubs. The Yankees methodically got better as the series grew older. They did it in a way that suggested they will be hard to beat if they keep playing this way.

"We're pitching well, we're swinging the bats well, we're playing good defense," said Derek Jeter, who hit a home run and was robbed of a second one. "If we do that, I like our chances."

They seemed to like their achievement too. Their clubhouse celebration was like their series: It gained momentum.

Players hugged each other quietly on the field as Twin fans politely applauded their team. After a while in the clubhouse, though, as the champagne showers gave way to shaving cream spatterings, they whooped it up.

Part of that was due to the fact that some players, notably Jason Giambi, never had won a postseason series before. Part of it was due to something else. "Last year was tough," said Jorge Posada, who criticized some teammates after the Yankees were knocked out of the division series by the Angels. "This year just tastes a lot better."

This year, the Yankees pitched a lot better. David Wells threw the Yankees' fourth consecutive good game, completing a stifling week for the Twins.

Said Minnesota Manager Ron Gardenhire: "You know you're going to run up against a buzz saw when you run up against their pitching staff."

Wells pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and no walks. By the time he allowed a run, the Yankees already had six.

"He was awesome. He pitched his typical great game in a big game," said Andy Pettitte, whose 4-1 win in Game 2 allowed the Yankees to rebound from their 3-1 Game 1 loss.

The Yankees' hitting caught up with their pitching Sunday. They had 13 hits, including four doubles in a six-run fourth that put away Twin starter Johan Santana and any hope Minnesota had of getting back in the series.

Tonight, they have the luxury of watching two weary potential opponents play in Oakland, knowing that one of them will have to fly to New York for a game Wednesday.

"I hope," Wells said, "they go 18 innings."

*

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HOW THEY SCORED

FOURTH INNING: Yankees 6, Twins 0--With one out, Giambi doubled to left. Williams doubled to left, Giambi scoring. Posada singled to left, Williams stopping at third. Matsui doubled to center, Williams scoring, Posada stoping at third. Boone lined to short. J.Rivera was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Johnson doubled to center, Posada and Matsui scoring, J.Rivera stopping at third. Rincon pitching. Soriano singled to left, J.Rivera and Johnson scoring. Jeter walked. Soriano took third and Jeter took second on Pierzynski's passed ball. Giambi walked, loading the bases. Milton pitching. Williams forced Giambi. Six runs, six hits, three left.

Yankees 6, Twins 1--With one out, Hunter singled to left. Pierzynski singled to first, Hunter taking third. Cuddyer singled to center, Hunter scoring, Pierzynski stopping at second. Jones fouled to left. Koskie flied to center. One run, three hits, two left.

EIGHTH INNING: Yankees 7, Twins 1--Hawkins pitching. Boone singled to left. Boone stole second. J.Rivera had a bunt single to third, Boone taking third. Boone scored on Hawkins' error, J.Rivera taking second. Johnson flied into a double play, J.Rivera out. Soriano struck out. One run, two hits, one error.

NINTH INNING: Yankees 8, Twins 1--Guardado pitching. Jeter homered to left, his first. Giambi struck out. Williams flied to center. Posada singled to center. Matsui struck out. One run, two hits, one left.

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