Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2001

Yankees mystique dissolves

October 28, 2001


— The New York Yankees' mystique disappeared about as quickly as Mike Mussina in the World Series opener.

Mussina couldn't make it past the third inning and it was the Yankees who played like World Series rookies, losing 9-1 Saturday night to Arizona.

"I was just awful," Mussina said. "Every pitch I threw was over the middle of the plate."

The three-time defending champions committed two costly errors, failed to generate any offense off Curt Schilling and couldn't get any big outs on the mound in one of their sloppiest postseason performances under manager Joe Torre.

The end result is their first deficit in the World Series since dropping the opening two games to Atlanta in 1996. Since then, Torre's team has won four titles and 16 of 17 Series games by taking advantage of mistakes like the ones they made against the Diamondbacks.

But after coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the first round against Oakland, and bouncing back from a 14-3 loss to Seattle to win the ALCS, the Yankees aren't about to panic.

"It's not demoralizing," outfielder David Justice said. "If we played our best baseball and lost 9-1 that would be bad. But we didn't play our best baseball."

Justice received the Game 1 start over Paul O'Neill based on his .357 career average against Schilling. That, like most of the moves Torre made this game, backfired as Justice struck out all three times against Schilling.

"A lot of my moves worked for the other team," Torre said.

The Yankees allowed five unearned runs the most in a Series game since Oakland did it in Game 2 in 1973 in a remarkable turnaround from their usual formula. In Torre's first 71 postseason games with New York, the Yankees allowed only 13 unearned runs and scored 46 of their own.

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