Archive for Monday, October 6, 2003

Yankees finish off Twins

October 6, 2003


— The New York Yankees never panicked, even if some of their fans did.

"It's a series," Derek Jeter said, "not one game."

The Yankees sure rediscovered their dominant postseason form in a hurry. They hit four doubles in a six-run fourth inning Sunday, breezing behind David Wells into the AL championship series with an 8-1 victory over Minnesota.

After a sloppy loss in Game 1 Tuesday that brought back memories of last year's first-round flop against Anaheim, New York beat the Twins three straight times to win the division series, 3-1.

"We fought our way through it," manager Joe Torre said. "We know there are a lot of distractions in New York. In the postseason, they're magnified."

A rested Yankees team will open the ALCS Wednesday night at home against Oakland or Boston.

"They're the best team in the league," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Somebody has to knock them off."

Wells improved to 9-2 lifetime in the postseason by going 72/3 innings for the Yankees. New York made it easy for him, sending 12 batters to the plate in the fourth and chasing Twins starter Johan Santana.

Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui each hit an RBI double, and Nick Johnson added a two-run double. Alfonso Soriano's bloop two-run single made it 6-0.

"Six-nothing in the playoffs is like 12-nothing in the regular season," Minnesota's Torii Hunter said.

Jeter later homered for the Yankees. After losing Game 1 at home 3-1, New York outscored Minnesota, 15-3.

"They're a confident bunch," Gardenhire said. "If they start hitting, they win a lot of games."

The big-budget Yankees are under increasing pressure to win it all this year after going consecutive seasons without a World Series title. They put themselves in a great position by finishing off Minnesota Sunday.

They'll have two days off to rest before Game 1 of the ALCS.

After hugs and handshakes on the field, the Yankees celebrated -- it was controlled, but there was plenty of champagne -- in a crowded clubhouse.

"It's exciting for me to finally enjoy one," said Jason Giambi, who never has been out of the first round. "But it isn't just for one round."

The Twins, who beat Oakland in the first round last year, will have to settle for two straight AL Central titles.

A leg cramp limited Santana's Game 1 outing to four shutout innings. After retiring 10 of his first 11 batters, Santana's success came to a screeching end with one out in the fourth. A stunned, silenced crowd of 55,875 watched the Yankees bash balls all over the field.

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