- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

NEW YORK — The New York Yankees waited all season for that huge hit from Alex Rodriguez.

Boy, did he deliver just in time.

Rodriguez hit a tying double in the 12th inning, then Derek Jeter dashed home on Hideki Matsui’s sacrifice fly, and the Yankees bailed out Mariano Rivera with another improbable postseason comeback, beating Minnesota 7-6 last night to even their series at a game apiece.

The Yankees responded with a championship-caliber rally after falling behind in the 12th on Torii Hunter’s home run.

Corey Koskie keyed an eighth-inning rally with a tying double against Rivera, who blew a save in the postseason for only the third time in 33 chances.

Game 3 in the best-of-5 American League Division Series will be tomorrow night at the Metrodome, with Kevin Brown starting for the Yankees against Carlos Silva.

This game went to extra innings tied at 5-5, and it stayed that way until Hunter connected on the 49th pitch from reliever Tanyon Sturtze, who had worked 22/3 hitless innings to that point.

But Twins closer Joe Nathan was running out of gas, too. He walked Miguel Cairo and Jeter with one out in the 12th, bringing up Rodriguez, who struggled in clutch situations for most of his first season with the Yankees.

He’s changing all that in October. A-Rod hit a ground-rule double to left-center on Nathan’s 49th pitch, tying the score at 6-6 with his fourth hit of the game.

Gary Sheffield was intentionally walked before J.C. Romero replaced Nathan.

With the outfield drawn-in, Matsui hit a liner directly at right fielder Jacque Jones that appeared to be too shallow to score Jeter from third.

But Jeter took off for the plate, and Jones’ throw didn’t have much on it. First baseman Matthew LeCroy, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the 10th, relayed the ball to the plate, but Jeter slid in safely.

Paul Quantrill got one out in the 12th for the win, retiring rookie Jason Kubel with two on.

Jeter led off with a long ball, and Sheffield and Rodriguez hit their first postseason homers in pinstripes to help the Yankees build a 5-3 lead after seven innings.

With two All-Stars in Tom Gordon and Rivera at the back of the bullpen, that was supposed to be the Yankees’ foolproof formula for playoff success. But they couldn’t put this one away.

The Twins tied it at 5-5 in the eighth, rallying against Gordon and Rivera. Jones reached on a wild pitch after striking out, and Hunter singled.

That was as long as manager Joe Torre could wait to go to Rivera, who had been 12-for-12 in postseason save chances at Yankee Stadium. But he gave up a bloop RBI single to Justin Morneau, cutting it to 5-4 and leaving runners at the corners.

Koskie then came through with an outstanding at-bat, fighting his way back from an 0-2 count. Choking way up on the handle just like Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzalez did against Rivera in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Koskie sliced a 3-2 pitch into the left-field corner for a double, tying the score at 5-5.

Koskie’s ball bounced into the stands, perhaps costing the Twins the go-ahead run. Pinch-runner Luis Rivas was running on the pitch.

Rivera recovered to strike out Kubel and retire Cristian Guzman on a comebacker, stranding the potential go-ahead run at third.

One night after getting shut out by Johan Santana and two relievers, the Yankees hit three homers off Brad Radke — one each from the top three batters in the lineup.

Rodriguez added an RBI single in the seventh to make it 5-3, snapping New York’s 0-for-19 postseason skid with runners in scoring position since Jeter’s seventh-inning RBI single in Game 5 of the 2003 World Series.

Jon Lieber pitched 62/3 solid innings in his first career postseason start. He left with a 4-3 lead and jogged off the mound to a standing ovation.

After Morneau’s two-out RBI double in the first, Jeter hit Radke’s third pitch into the empty black section beyond the center-field fence for his 14th career postseason home run.

That ended another punchless string for the Yankees — they had been shut out in consecutive postseason games for the first time in franchise history, dating to Josh Beckett’s gem in Game 6 of the 2003 World Series for Florida.

Jeter popped out of the dugout for a curtain call, but the feisty Twins went right back ahead.

Koskie drew a rare walk from Lieber leading off the second and scored on Michael Cuddyer’s single. Henry Blanco poked a shallow sacrifice fly down the right-field line, making it 3-1.

Rodriguez singled in the third before Sheffield’s fifth career postseason homer, bringing chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the sellout crowd of 56,354.

Rodriguez connected in the fifth, giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide