Yankees win, take 2-0 lead on Red Sox

Lieber pitches 7 solid innings as New York gets 3-1 victory

Martinez goes 6 innings, takes loss

Sheffield has RBI hit in 1st

Olerud hits 2-run HR in 6th

October 14, 2004|By JOE CHRISTENSEN | JOE CHRISTENSEN,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - On a night the crowd repeatedly mocked Pedro Martinez with a "Who's your daddy?' chant, he could have never guessed the answer would be a 34-year-old pitcher the New York Yankees kept on mothballs last year.

Jon Lieber, who signed with the Yankees in January 2003 but missed that entire season while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, was the real story in Game 2 the American League Championship Series.

Lieber held the Boston Red Sox to one run on three hits over seven-plus innings, and New York did just enough damage against Martinez to pull out a 3-1 victory last night before 56,136 at Yankee Stadium.

Gary Sheffield hit a run-scoring single in the first inning, giving the Yankees the early lead, and John Olerud drilled a two-run homer off Martinez in the sixth, turning the stadium into an echo chamber.

"Who's your daddy? Who's your daddy? Who's your daddy?'

A series that looked so promising for Boston coming in has quickly turned into a nightmare. New York leads 2-0, with Game 3 set for tomorrow night in Boston.

But beyond losing the first two games, the Red Sox also face the prospect of playing the rest of the postseason without top pitcher Curt Schilling, who has a loose tendon in his right ankle and gave up six runs in three innings Tuesday night.

Boston manager Terry Francona still hopes to use Schilling in Game 5, but it will only happen if the team's medical staff can remedy the troublesome tendon problem with a customized brace. If not, Schilling is finished.

With that news hanging in the background, Francona tried looking at the positives before Game 2.

"I think tonight's game is obviously very important for us." Francona said. "I think the guy that's pitching the game for us [Martinez] will relish that. I think there's going to be a lot of attention on this game. I think the atmosphere is going to be incredible, and I think he"ll throw a very, very special game."

Martinez wasn't all that bad. He held the Yankees to three runs on four hits and four walks over six innings.

But Lieber was simply brilliant. After the early fireworks when Martinez surrendered the first-inning run, the game crawled into the sixth, with New York still clinging to its 1-0 lead.

Throughout his career, Martinez has had games like this against the Yankees. Coming into the game, his ERA through the first five innings against New York was 2.12 compared 6.33 from the sixth inning on.

This time, he had 91 pitches coming into the sixth, and after getting the first out, he walked Jorge Posada, bringing Olerud to the plate.

Martinez threw all fastballs to Olerud, who was released by the Seattle Mariners this season and picked off the scrap heap by the Yankees when first baseman Jason Giambi started experiencing his health problems.

With a 2-2 count, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek called for another fastball low and away, but Martinez missed, throwing the pitch belt-high and right over the plate. Olerud lined it over the right-field wall for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead.

The Red Sox trimmed it to 3-1 in the eighth, when Orlando Cabrera hit a run-scoring ground out against Yankees reliever Tom Gordon.

But Yankees manager Joe Torre summoned Mariano Rivera, who recorded his second straight four-out save.

The crowd wasted no time serenading Martinez. As soon as he took the mound for his first-inning warm-ups, the chant began: "Who's your daddy?'

Martinez smiled and pointed to the sky.

In two September starts against the Yankees, Martinez lost twice, allowing 14 runs, and after getting clobbered that second time, on Sept 24, he said, 'What can I say? I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."

The fans were in his head, and he was admitting it, but he was defiant as ever. The whole game would be played on his terms.

His first six pitches were balls, as he walked Derek Jeter and fell behind in the count against Alex Rodriguez, 2-0. After finally throwing two strikes, he hit he hit Rodriguez with on the hand with a fastball on the hand, putting runners at first and second.

Velocity was not the problem. Martinez threw pitches that reached 97 mph on the radar gun. But his control was far from perfect. He grooved a first- pitch fastball to Gary Sheffield, and Sheffield blistered the pitch to center field, scoring Jeter for a quick, 1-0 lead.

The Yankees extended Martinez for 26 pitches in the first inning, and 20 more in the second when they put runners at the corners, but Martinez made a series of big pitches, keeping them to one run.

Boston, meantime, wasn't doing any better against Lieber.

He breezed through the first inning on nine pitches, and overcame a rare control lapse in the second. Lieber recently finished a stretch of 236 innings without walking the leadoff batter. But after sitting down during the long bottom of the first inning, Lieber came out and issued a leadoff walk to David Ortiz.

He also fell behind in the count to Kevin Millar, 2-0, but Millar showed no patience, swinging wildly at the next pitch and popping it to shortstop for the first out. That helped Lieber settle in again as he retired 16 of 17 batters following that leadoff walk to Ortiz.

Lieber barely had to break a sweat until Johnny Damon battled him through an 16-pitch at-bat with one out in the sixth inning. After repeatedly fouling off pitches to stay alive, Damon lined out to center field.

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Best of seven; *-if necessary New York leads series 2-0

Game 1: New York, 10-7

Last night: New York, 3-1

Tomorrow: N.Y. (Brown 10-6) at Boston (Arroyo 10-9), 8:19 p.m.

Saturday: New York (Hernandez 8-2 or Vazquez 14-10) at Boston (Wakefield 12-10), 8:10 p.m.

*Sunday: New York at Boston, 8:15 p.m.

*Tuesday: Boston at New York, 8:19 p.m.

*Wednesday: Boston at New York, 8:19 p.m.

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