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Q&A with Gary Sheffield: Game 410/10/2004 12:45 AM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Gary Sheffield and the Yankees wrapped up their American League Division Series on Saturday night at the Metrodome, defeating the Twins, 6-5, in 11 innings to win the series, 3-1.
Sheffield went just 1-for-6 in Game 4, but his eighth-inning infield single started the four-run rally that tied the game.
After the game, Sheffield spoke with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand about the dramatic victory, his outfield miscue at the dome and his thoughts on playing the Red Sox in the ALCS, which begins on Tuesday night.
MLB.com: Did Javier Vazquez look nervous to you early?
Sheffield: I think he just needed a couple of innings to settle in. This was a first for him, and I remember in my first playoff game, I was very nervous for my first at-bat, but then I settled down. I think that's what he needed.
MLB.com: Did you notice any difference in Johan Santana, who was going on three days' rest?
Sheffield: He went more with the cut fastball as opposed to the four-seamer. He cut the balls in on righties, and when he had men on base, he went for the strikeout with the changeup. He came through big for them.
MLB.com: You guys didn't score on Santana in Game 1, but Hideki Matsui comes through with an RBI single in the third tonight. How important was that for you to know that you could get a run against him?
Sheffield: When he did that, we felt like it was going to be a different day. Then I go out there and lose a ball in the dome, change the momentum back in their favor. That made them believe they could beat us.
MLB.com: Speaking of that play, what happened on the ball hit by Justin Morneau?
Sheffield: Ever since I've been playing here, I've never lost a ball up there. I felt like a helpless child out there. As soon as he hit it, I lost it. I looked at (second baseman Miguel) Cairo, who ran back like it was going to be right over his head, so I ran in.
MLB.com: You had baserunners in every inning against Santana. Did you feel like one key hit could open the floodgates?
Sheffield: It was similar to the first game. We had guys on, but we couldn't cash in. It gets frustrating.
MLB.com: Your broken-bat, infield single started the four-run rally in the eighth inning. Did you get a sense when you reached first that your team was about to come back?
Sheffield: Mr. Torre was telling us in the dugout to take it one run at a time, not trying to hit a home run. That's all I was thinking about in that situation. I ran as fast as I could, and luckily I beat it out.
MLB.com: Bernie Williams singles you in to make it a three-run game, then Ruben (Sierra) steps to the plate as the tying run. What was going through your mind?
Sheffield: Once we got that run on the board and it was a three-run game, I felt better. Now one swing could take care of it for us, and we've seen that many times. I didn't see why it couldn't happen again.
MLB.com: How nice was it to see Ruben hit that home run, given his up-and-down year?
Sheffield: He was actually wearing my shoes today, so I told him, "Pick me up, let us take a day off. I don't feel like playing tomorrow." He came up huge for us.
MLB.com: Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera had a tough time in Game 2. Were you pleased to see them gain a little redemption tonight?
Sheffield: It just shows you what teammates are all about. We picked them up, and tonight they picked us up.
MLB.com: Alex Rodriguez doubles, steals third while you're up and then scores on a wild pitch. How impressive is that?
Sheffield: When you think you've seen everything he can do, he continues to amaze you. He's the best player in the game, and he showed that tonight.
MLB.com: You celebrated a division title in New York. Is this one even better?
Sheffield: Oh yeah. This is the one we were trying the hardest to get to. We knew this series was going to be tough, seeing Santana twice, but we pulled it out.
MLB.com: You've seen 19 regular-season Yankees-Red Sox games, so what are you expecting in the next 7-10 days?
Sheffield: I'm anticipating a great series. They're not going to catch us off-guard like they did in April. We'll be ready for them.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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