10/02/2002 01:20 am ET
Yankee Stadium magical again
Williams' homer adds to lore of postseason in Bronx
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The intimidating postseason monster that is Yankee Stadium filled the air Tuesday night in the early stages of Game 1 of the Division Series. The buzz was there, be it roars from the crowd, highlights on the center field scoreboard of past October heroics, or Derek Jeter's first-inning solo blast that gave the place an added air of arrogance.
All that electricity and noise from the faithful of 56,710 was designed to zap the Angels, whose roster is filled with players who have never seen October before, let alone in this haunting ballpark. But the Angels were fuse busters over those first six innings. For every Yankee roundhouse punch, the Angels came back with an answer.
They even quieted the crowd, taking a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth. But both the crowd and the Yankees were still to be heard from. The mystique of Yankee Stadium and the Yankees themselves lived on once more to score a crushing 8-5 victory over the Angels.
Postseason magic is becoming increasingly inevitable in this ballpark, as if there isn't already enough history here.
With two outs and nobody on in the eighth, the Yankees roared back with four lightning-quick runs. Jason Giambi's single off Scott Spiezio's glove tied it, and Bernie Williams' tie-breaking, game-winning three-run homer set the place into the type of frenzy that leaves even the most sturdy ears numb.
How often has this happened lately? Four of the Yankees last six postseason wins at Yankee Stadium have come in the last at bat. Remember Alfonso Soriano's walkoff against the Mariners in Game 4 of last year's ALCS? Or the Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius bombs off the Diamondbacks with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in Game 4 and Game 5 of the 2001 World Series? And now this.
Call it habitual miracles. The Angels say this won't zap them. Time will tell.
"Well, I don't know if it's a heart-breaking loss," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "You don't feel comfortable with any loss, obviously in a playoff situation."
It was no certainty that the Yankees, without Brosius, Martinez and Paul O'Neill, would still thrive quite as often in these situations. But it doesn't seem to matter if some of the faces change.
There are still enough left behind.
"You know, this year, there's a different set of people," said manager Joe Torre. "But this is a magical place."
Jason Giambi was on the other side of the Yankee playoff dominance the last two years. He saw it enough to expect nothing less in his first playoff encounter in pinstripes.
"That's the thing this ballclub does," Giambi said. "Being on the other side of it, you always want to say it can't be magic. It's not this, it's not that, it's not the mystique."
Giambi knows better now.
There was almost defiance among the Yankees when Angels took the lead at 5-4 on a Troy Glaus solo shot (his second of the game) in the top of the eighth. As far as the Yankees are concerned, that's just setting the stage.
"Being here now, they never panic," Giambi said. "Even when (Troy) Glaus hit the home run (in the eighth), it wasn't a situation where guys are like, 'awwww'. You don't ever feel the wind get taken out of your sails on this ballclub. You always feel your just one rally away. It's happened so many times for this team to come back."
Jeter, who along with Alfonso Soriano, subtly helped set this stage with back-to-back two-out walks in the eighth, has seen all of this so many times before. He expects nothing less.
"The atmosphere is different," Jeter said. "I can't explain it, it's just the postseason. This is what you play for. It seems like there's always something new happening here. We've had some great games here, so hopefully that will continue."
Tuesday night offered no evidence why it won't.
"You see them do it all the time as a visitor, then you wonder, 'What would happen if I were over there?' Then you join this team and special things happen," said reliever Steve Karsay, who picked up the win in his Yankee postseason debut. "The crowd gets excited, they give you some adrenaline and that puts some pressure on the other team. You don't play in front of crowds like this in the regular season, but during the playoffs, it makes for an uncomfortable situation for the opposing team and something very special for us."
And something especially painful for the team -- this time the Angels -- unlucky enough to be in the visiting uniform.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its