05/12/2002 7:31 pm ET
Torre notches No. 1,500 with sweep
Yankee skipper happy with road sweep
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- It might have been Mother's Day, but the New York Yankees gave their father figure and manager, Joe Torre, a pretty rare gift on Sunday afternoon.
In a complete team effort, New York received solo home runs from Jorge Posada, Robin Ventura, Nick Johnson and Derek Jeter, while Jason Giambi delivered a two-run blow and Mike Mussina pitched a solid 7 2/3 innings to beat the Minnesota Twins 10-4, earning Torre his 1,500th career managerial win.
In addition to marking New York's first road sweep over the Twins since May 17-19, 1993, the victory put the Yankees at 24-14 -- a season-best 10 games over .500. Of Torre's 1,500 wins, 606 have come since he joined the Yankees in 1996.
"I'm real proud," Torre said. "Jorge gave me the baseball and Rocket (Roger Clemens) had some nice things to say to me. The last 600 wins have been like a dream. Coming here has been a second life for me, and it certainly has been appreciated. It's been a lot of fun. Winning is always fun, but the 1,500 is a byproduct of what this team has meant to me."
While Torre was more interested in praising his players than sharing his secrets for success as a big league manager, bench coach Don Zimmer said the recipe was pretty simple.
"Number one, it's great players," Zimmer said. "That's not a knock toward Joe, he would tell you the same thing. When you work for the Yankees and Mr. Steinbrenner, he tries to get you the best players, but Joe knows how to handle them. He's a very patient guy and he knows how to deal with baseball players. Every manager is different and every player is different. His knack is knowing how to handle individuals."
Torre became the 17th manager in baseball history to reach the 1,5000-win plateau, but downplayed the significance of his personal milestone.
"You always manage to win." Torre said. "It's been a great six years here. Hopefully, number seven will be just as great."
If his team continues to play at its current level, that just might happen.
After getting swept in a three-game series by the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium last weekend, the Bronx Bombers got their revenge on the road by sweeping three games from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before bringing their brooms north to Minnesota.
"We knew going into Tampa that they were in a losing streak," Torre said. "But we couldn't afford to expect to win without working for it. This road trip I saw us working every at bat and playing hard every inning. There was a lot of determination especially when we won those close ones early."
This week's hot streak had the Yankees within three games of Boston coming into Sunday's finale. With a nine-game homestand beginning Tuesday against the sinking Rays, and Boston's Manny Ramirez likely to be placed on the disabled list with a broken finger, New York may have an opening to regain control of the AL East in the near future.
"We should be concentrating on ourselves," Torre said. "Not anybody else, because if we play like we played here, we'll win our share of games and we should be in the hunt."
According to Zimmer, however, Torre has never been the type of guy to allow his team to start thinking too far ahead -- even after leading the Yankees to five World Series appearances and four titles in his six seasons at the helm.
"The goal that you shoot for every year is to go to the World Series," Zimmer said. "But what he does is keep everybody focused on what they're doing today. Today's game is always the most important one."
Actually, after an off-day on Monday, the Yankees' most important game will come Tuesday against the same Tampa Bay team that got them started on their current winning streak.
"It turned into a really good road trip for us," Mussina said. "After that troublesome series at home, we got it going in the right direction again. Hopefully the day off won't slow us down and we can get back to Yankee Stadium and keep playing well."
If the last six games -- or six seasons -- are any kind of indication, that shouldn't be a problem.
Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League baseball or its clubs.