- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

NEW YORK Maybe Lou Piniella knew what he was talking about all along.
Few took the Seattle Mariners manager seriously when he boldly proclaimed his team would bring the American League Championship Series back to the Pacific Northwest despite the 0-2 hole it dug itself into at Safeco Field.
The New York Yankees may still prove Piniella wrong and close out this series in the Bronx, but for at least one night the feisty manager can claim a psychological assist for the Mariners' startling 14-3 win yesterday in Game 3.
"I said the things I said because I have confidence in this baseball team and I believe in them," Piniella said. "You know, you can say a lot of things, but you have still got to get it done on the field. And tonight our team went out and got it done."
Said right fielder Ichiro Suzuki: "What he said was exactly what all the players have been thinking. That idea is in everybody's mind."
Piniella surely will get credit for taking the pressure off his players, but he might have been eating crow if not for unheralded left-hander Jamie Moyer, who for the third time this postseason followed a Seattle loss with a brilliant pitching performance. Meanwhile, the Mariners' hitters finally came to life during a record seven-run sixth inning that buried the Yankees and silenced the crowd of 56,517 before the sun had fully set on a gorgeous October evening.
To make good on Piniella's promise, which came moments following Thursday night's Game 2 loss in Seattle, the Mariners still have to find a way to beat Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte in the next two days, thus forcing a Game 6 at Safeco Field. Clemens continues to battle a right hamstring injury that has limited his effectiveness in the postseason, but his counterpart tonight for Game 4 right-hander Paul Abbott was shelled for eight runs in his only playoff appearance.
"There's no question that momentum is your next day's pitcher," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You have to discount it as one game. We know they are capable; you don't win 116 games and put the numbers that they put up without knowing they are capable of beating your brains out."
The Mariners finally looked like the team that set the AL record for victories, thanks in no small part to second baseman Bret Boone, who tied an ALCS record with five RBI after failing to drive in a run in his first 30 postseason at-bats.
He had plenty of help. Mark McLemore cleared the bases with a sixth-inning triple after John Olerud started the rally by homering off the right-field foul pole, and pinch-hitter Jay Buhner capped the evening by becoming the second player ever to hit a ball onto the center field batter's eye at Yankee Stadium during the postseason. (Reggie Jackson also did it during his memorable three-homer game in the 1977 World Series.)
And to top it off, the Mariners got yet another strong showing from Moyer in a must-win game, with the 38-year-old left-hander fighting through a first-inning homer to Bernie Williams to retire 13 in a row and finish the day having surrendered just two runs and four hits in seven innings.
"I have played with these guys all year long," Moyer said. "I have seen us score a lot of runs and I really felt strongly that we were going to do something. It was just a matter of putting a couple of hits together."
Boone's first hit might have been the biggest. One of the favorites to win the AL MVP Award, along with Oakland first baseman Jason Giambi, Boone had come under harsh criticism for his failure to produce this month. But his fifth-inning bloop single to left caught and then dropped by diving Chuck Knoblauch scored the Mariners' first two runs and his sixth-inning homer to center field opened the floodgates.
Yankees starter Orlando Hernandez, who held a sparkling 9-1 career playoff record entering the game, was clearly laboring and sitting on a pitch count of 109 through five innings, but Torre let his starter return to the mound in the sixth, a decision that came back to haunt him immediately.
Olerud led the inning off with his home run down the right-field line. A single and a walk later, Hernandez gave way to left-hander Mike Stanton, who proceeded to throw foolishly to third on a sacrifice bunt attempt and wound up launching the ball into left field while allowing another run to score. For the second straight game, Torre elected to walk Ichiro intentionally, and McLemore followed with a bases-clearing triple to deep left-center. Boone then belted Mark Wohlers' first pitch over the center field fence to complete the Mariners' seven-run inning, tying the ALCS record.
"The blooper that fell in was big," Boone said. "But I thought the biggest hit of the game was when Olerud stepped up and hit the home run and gave us a lead. That really got our bench fired up and had the guys saying, 'Hey, we are back in this thing.'"

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