Yanks magic strikes again, beats Angels

Four-run rally in eighth wins series opener, 8-5

Williams' 3-run shot decisive

Glaus' 2 HRs boost Angels, but bullpen blows lead

Division Series

October 02, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - The euphoria twisting his words into tight little knots, Jarrod Washburn referred to the Anaheim Angels clinching a wild-card berth last week as lifting the "demons" from their backs. It wasn't until he noticed all the puzzled looks that Washburn corrected himself.

"Monkeys off our backs?" he said. "Whatever."

The New York Yankees lowered something much heavier on the Angels last night - their talent and mystique. Good luck removing those.

No stranger to postseason dramatics, Bernie Williams drilled a three-run homer off reliever Brendan Donnelly with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Yankees seized immediate control of the American League Division Series with an 8-5 win in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium.

Troy Glaus hit two home runs, the second off reliever Ramiro Mendoza in the eighth to give Anaheim its only lead, 5-4. But two walks off Angels reliever Ben Weber had the Yankees poised to work their October magic.

Jason Giambi, who belted a two-run homer in the fourth, singled off first baseman Scott Spiezio's glove to score Alfonso Soriano with the tying run. Giambi pulled a 2-2 pitch from left-hander Scott Schoeneweis, and Spiezio couldn't field the ball cleanly as he slid toward the hole.

Manager Mike Scioscia went to his bullpen again, bypassing closer Troy Percival, and Williams crushed a 2-2 pitch for his 17th playoff homer, sending the crowd into a frenzy and the Angels to a disheartening loss.

"If we bring in Percy," Scioscia said, "we're going to start to extend him, I think, running into trouble later in the series."

Williams made the strategy backfire with such force, it shook the Bronx.

"You could just see the determination with him," said manager Joe Torre, whose club hit four homers. "Bernie's so important and he's been so big for us."

Said Williams: "It was a great feeling. Everything happened so quick. I don't think I remember running the bases. It really hasn't sunk it yet."

Living up to their pesky reputation, the Angels fouled off pitches, slapped balls to the opposite field, stole bases and laid down bunts. It wasn't until the sixth that they turned on the power, with Glaus going deep against Roger Clemens. Glaus led off the eighth in similar fashion, becoming the first player in club history to hit multiple homers in a postseason game.

Then again, nobody's had the chance since 1986.

Sixteen years had passed since the Angels last appeared in the playoffs. They've gone through six managers and four general managers. Legendary owner Gene Autry died, as did beloved coach Jimmie Reese. Glaus was 10 years old.

"I'm not sure what [the Yankees' playoff] experience did," Torre said, "but it certainly didn't scare those guys. They keep coming at you. They don't strike out. They can just mess up good pitches. But I think what helped us was that we've been here before."

Clemens, the pitcher who eliminated the Angels in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series in 1986, left last night with the score tied 4-4 in the sixth. Given leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3, he couldn't hold any of them.

Clemens threw 37 of his 113 pitches in the fifth inning, when Anaheim loaded the bases. Garret Anderson fell behind 1-2, then flicked a two-run double down the left-field line for a 3-3 tie.

Washburn needed only 81 pitches to get through seven innings. He allowed three homers, including a bases-empty shot by Rondell White in the fifth that moved New York ahead 4-3, but was aided by four double plays.

Derek Jeter's 10th career playoff homer in the first inning gave the Yankees their first run and first curtain call. Giambi reached the seats in right-center field in the fourth.

A capacity crowd of 56,710 roared each time Clemens got two strikes on a batter. It would only get louder.

"Any defeat at this time is tough," Scioscia said, "but if you've seen our club day in and day out, they'll come out tomorrow and play a good ballgame."

Good usually isn't enough against the Yankees.

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