Yankees magic strikes again with rally to beat Angels, 8-5

Williams' 3-run homer decisive blow in 4-run 8th

Division Series

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

NEW YORK - The euphoria twisting his words in 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.

Bernie Williams hit 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 victory in Game 1 at raucous 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 reliever Ben Weber had the Yankees poised to work their October magic.

Jason Giambi, who hit 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, and Williams crushed a 2-2 pitch for his 17th postseason homer.

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 to begin the inning. He 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 changed logos three times and gone through six managers and four general managers. Legendary owner Gene Autry died, as did beloved coach Jimmie Reese. Glaus, who hit 30 homers this season, was 10 years old.

Clemens, the pitcher who eliminated them 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 alone, 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 home runs, 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, as the second batter to face Washburn, gave the Yankees their first run and their first curtain call. Giambi reached the seats in right-center field in the fourth after Jeter had walked.

A capacity crowd of 56,710 roared each time Clemens got two strikes on a batter, and the decibel level jumped when he fielded Adam Kennedy's bouncer to strand two runners in scoring position in the second inning. The Angels were denied the tying run when Benji Molina's blooper down the left-field line hopped into the seats for a ground-rule double, forcing Spiezio to stop at third base.

Their luck changed in the third. Darin Erstad singled with one out, stole second and advanced when catcher Jorge Posada's throw skipped into center field. Tim Salmon's grounder sneaked under Jeter's glove as he lunged to his left, scoring Erstad to create the first tie.

Washburn won 18 games this season to emerge as his team's ace. His three biggest mistakes last night wound up in the stands. Most important to him, however, the Angels didn't wind up in the win column.

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