Slumping Ja. Giambi dropped to 7th in order

Yankees slugger responds with 2 bases-empty HRs

ALCS notebook

October 17, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Of all the New York players who had to navigate through snarled traffic to reach Yankee Stadium yesterday, only one of them arrived late. He must have seen the Game 7 lineup.

Jason Giambi, who was tardy for pre-game stretching because of a water main break that closed the George Washington Bridge, was lowered from third to seventh against Boston Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez because of a slump that intensified during the American League Championship Series.

"It's just something a little bit different," manager Joe Torre said. "Jason has been struggling. He just feels a great deal of responsibility. We don't talk about this on a regular basis. I just sense that he's taken on more than any one person needs to take on and I thought I'd drop him in the lineup and probably find him with the bases loaded twice. But that's the way it goes."

Giambi responded in fine fashion, hitting home runs in the fifth and seventh innings to help spark a comeback by the Yankees.

Torre's only regret was not informing Giambi before he saw the lineup.

"But he had no problem with it," Torre said. "He said, `Whatever you need to do, Skip.'"

The Yankees needed Giambi to heat up. He was hitting .216 in the postseason before last night, and .190 with one homer and one RBI in the ALCS.

Not the kind of production the Yankees figured to get for $120 million.

"It just looks like he's squeezing the sawdust out of the bat," Torre said. "It's unfortunate human beings have to play this game, and sometimes we get to the point of trying too hard, and that's what I sense."

Wilson starts for Boone

Just as he did in Game 3, Enrique Wilson started at third base for the Yankees against Pedro Martinez.

Wilson was 10-for-20 lifetime against Martinez before going 0-for-4 in Game 3. He remained a better option than Aaron Boone, who was 2-for-16 in the ALCS and 5-for-31 in the playoffs before last night.

Yankees fans jeered Boone during Game 6. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Security for Ramirez

Manny Ramirez is taking special precautions during his homecoming in the Bronx, where the reception could get a little too warm.

Ramirez, who grew up a few miles from Yankee Stadium, has four security guards accompanying him to the ballpark from the Red Sox's midtown hotel.

A controversial figure to begin with, Ramirez has been targeted by Yankees fans since walking toward Roger Clemens with bat in hand after taking exception to a high pitch in Game 3. They booed him and chanted obscenities each time he came to the plate.

Red Sox manager Grady Little wasn't concerned about the safety of his players, including Martinez, who started the Game 3 sparring by hitting Karim Garcia in the back.

"We've been very impressed by what we've seen at Yankee Stadium since we arrived back here," Little said. "There's a lot of security here, good security."

Extra help for bullpen

With both teams down to a one-game elimination, pitchers were on call last night who normally wouldn't step foot in the bullpen unless it was their day to throw between starts.

Former Oriole Mike Mussina, 0-3 in the postseason, informed Torre that he could join the Yankees relievers if needed. Torre took him up on the offer and Mussina provided three scoreless innings.

"Whatever they want me to do, I am available," Mussina, who pitched Monday at Fenway Park, said before the game. "You never know what's going to happen."

Mussina, who cut short his regular bullpen session Wednesday, never has worked in relief.

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