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Press Row: Yankees find a way
10/10/2004 11:30 AM ET
Sometimes the question is not whether the New York Yankees will mount a comeback in the postseason, but how they will do so.

The Yanks have had to rally to win 32 of their 69 postseason wins since 1996.

So when the Yankees found themselves down 5-1 in the eighth inning of Saturday's Game 4 of the American League Division Series against Minnesota, the Twins were probably the only people who didn't believe the Yankees could mount a comeback.

Sure enough, the Yankees did what they do best. Bernie Williams hit an RBI single and Ruben Sierra jacked a three-run home run off Juan Rincon and, three innings later, Alex Rodriguez scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Kyle Lohse.

As Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News writes, the Yankees' never-say-die attitude earned them their much-anticipated matchup with the Red Sox in the ALCS:

"The Yankees, who die harder than Bruce Willis and live longer than Methuselah, required yet another one of those ridiculously improbable comebacks in Game 4 at the Metrodome.

"The Yanks came back again from four down to beat the Twins, 6-5, on a three-run shot from Ruben Sierra in the eighth inning and a wild pitch from Kyle Lohse in the 11th.

"Alex Rodriguez came loping across the plate, and he'd earned this winning trot by stealing third just moments earlier, surprising Lohse and everybody else.

Facts machine: Mystical Yankees
Game Opp. Gm. situation Final
'03 ALCS, Gm. 7 Red Sox Down 5-2, 8th 6-5 (12)
'01 WS, Gm. 5 D-Backs Down 2-0, 9th 3-2 (12)
'01 WS, Gm. 4 D-Backs Down 3-1, 9th 4-3 (10)
'01 ALCS, Gm. 4 Mariners Down 1-0, 8th 3-1
-- More Facts machine information

"The Yankees just keep finding new ways to win the big ones, and a ball squirting away from under catcher Pat Borders is as good as any.

"[GM Brian] Cashman said he told manager Joe Torre the Yankees needed this Game 4 yesterday, in order to get their rotation ready for Boston. 'It was critical,' Cashman said. But then it looked like Torre had conceded the game yesterday, had left Javier Vazquez on the mound long after his arm was falling off like feathers from a molting parakeet.

"That's what this columnist was going to write: Torre threw one away, betting it all on Mussina in Game 5. And then, all of a sudden, he was a genius again with another series in his pocket and his most important starter rested and ready to go.

"In the seventh, with a four-run lead, the Twins were loading their bags into the trucks outside the Metrodome, headed for the airport and for Game 5. They forgot they were dealing with the Yankees. Soon enough, the score was tied and then the Yanks were finishing things off."

The 39-year-old Sierra was an unlikely hero in Game 4, for he had been struggling earlier in the series. In fact, back in 1999 when he was playing in the independent Atlantic League, Sierra was unlikely to even play in the Majors again, as Jack Curry of The New York Times points out:

"With a voice that rarely rises above a whisper, Ruben Sierra will tell anyone who inquires what happened to his once-incredible career. He was supposed to be the next Roberto Clemente, supposed to hit 500 homers, supposed to stroll into the Hall of Fame on a red carpet.

   Ruben Sierra  /   DH
Born: 10/06/65
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R

"'But I ruined my career,' Sierra has said. 'I threw it away.'

"He is a more honest and more mature man now, a player who would no longer be foolish enough to call manager Joe Torre a liar and a player who appreciates each at-bat because he knows how close he came to never swinging again. Sierra spent a season with the Atlantic City Surf in 1999.

"It took Sierra years to realize his problem: he was the problem.

"Sierra said he was young and rebellious and tried to blame everyone any time he had troubles. He admitted that he was too stubborn to realize that his lousy attitude and refusal to make adjustments was nudging him out of baseball.

"On Saturday, Sierra took a giant step toward regaining a slice of the career he tossed away like a coffee cup."

And the Yankees took the final step toward the ALCS matchup that everybody expected -- or at least hoped for.

The Red Sox might have looked more impressive, polishing the Angels off in three games, but the Yankees showed they still have their October magic, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes:

"The Red Sox have many advantages when the ALCS begins Tuesday night in the Bronx. Here is an edge the Yankees have: They are the Yankees.

"Which means they just have something about them at this time of year. Pick your word. Curt Schilling, who starts the opener for Boston against the Yanks, used "mystique" and "aura" once upon a time. Perhaps Magic and Mojo are the M&M Boys of this era.

"The calendar turns to October and the Yankees so often turn into what feels like an unstoppable force of nature. The Red Sox might remember a fellow named Aaron Boone, as an example."

While the Yankees and Red Sox duke it out, the Twins will have to reflect on yet another postseason gone sour, writes Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"Another playoff and another playoff loss to a higher power. The Twins remain a good little small-market team capable of grinding out a division title. But when it comes to the postseason, they can't play with the big boys. That league is too fast for them. And they have too little offense and too little depth."

Now, Powers says the Twins can expect yet another offseason of roster shuffling and cost-cutting:

"Next year should be bright, as well. There will be changes, however. There is always turnover around here.

"Corey Koskie, Jacque Jones, Cristian Guzman and Luis Rivas are the most likely candidates to wind up elsewhere in 2005.

"'Hopefully, we'll be able to keep some of them if not all of them,' Ron Gardenhire said.

"He knows better. So do the players, which is why there will be a quite a few long goodbyes when they clean out their lockers Sunday."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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