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Yankees Are Experienced at Losing the First Game

October 19, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The New York Yankees have done it the hard way throughout another exhilarating October run, so why should Game 1 of the World Series have been any different?

The American League champions dropped the openers of their first two playoff series and made it three for three Saturday night with a 3-2 loss to the Florida Marlins at Yankee Stadium.

The upstart Marlins didn't get caught up in that daunting Yankee Stadium mystique.

The NL pennant winners seemingly have the Yankees right where they want them, though it actually might be the other way around.

The Yankees are still here after overcoming early scares, and they definitely know how to close. They're back in a familiar spot and are determined to win their 27th World Series championship, meaning things could get really interesting now.

"It's not something we planned," Manager Joe Torre said of his team's slow starts in the postseason. "I mean, it's nice that we've had this track record in these last two series, but we had so many opportunities tonight.

"It was frustrating. But again, since we've done it the last couple of times, it keeps us from getting to the point of 'We got to, we got to, we got to.' "

The Yankees do display urgency when elimination is the alternative, as was the case Thursday night in Game 7 of the AL championship series against the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees outlasted the Red Sox, 6-5, in 11 gut-wrenching innings on Aaron Boone's walk-off home run, bringing another World Series to The House That Ruth Built.

But after first-game losses to Minnesota in the best-of-five division series and Boston in the ALCS, was Saturday's one-run decision a letdown after an emotional series-clinching victory or simply the natural order of things for this edition of baseball's greatest dynasty?

"If you lose then it's a letdown, if you win then they say it's no letdown," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "It's just a little quieter if you lose."

The Yankees pulled even with Game 2 victories in both their previous series, calming the Big Apple and easily riled owner George Steinbrenner, if only momentarily.

The situation calls for three in a row, but the confident Marlins aren't in awe of the Yankees and won't make it easy.

"Should we have been awed?" Manager Jack McKeon asked. "I mean, I don't know. We play them one night at a time, whether we're playing in Woodbridge, N.J., New York City or Chicago.

"It's one game at a time, and they're not awed. These guys are a bunch of professionals that know their job: Go out there on a daily basis, do the best they can and have fun."

Yankee starter David Wells wasn't too happy after taking the loss Saturday despite working seven solid innings, but he's counting on another Yankee turnaround to lift his spirits.

"We always seem to lose the first game of a series and come back and do it....Hopefully we'll follow suit," he said. "You just have to get it out of the way. We'll try to rebound and go down there and take a few from them."

Said Jeter: "It's a seven-game series for a reason."

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