10/05/2002 04:43 am ET
Bronx cheer: Yanks still confident
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- You'll have to excuse the New York Yankees if they don't seem panicked heading into Game 4 of the American League Division Series. Yes, a loss to the Anaheim Angels on Saturday will send the Yankees home after the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1997, but until that loss happens, New York is confident in its ability to stay alive.
"We have to win one game. That's all we have to do, and that's how we're approaching it," said reliever Mike Stanton after New York's 9-6 loss in Game 3. "We're not approaching it to get back to New York -- we're not even looking at New York now. We're looking at Game 4. We won 103 this year, so we can win one more."
The Yankees' blew a 6-1 third-inning lead on Friday, dropping their second straight game in the series after winning the opener in dramatic fashion. But even though the momentum appears to have shifted in the Angels' favor, Derek Jeter still believes that the Yankees have a lot more baseball ahead of them.
In fact, when asked after Friday's game whether he thought his team would win the series, he didn't need more than a few seconds before answering the question.
"Yeah," Jeter said. "That's the plan."
How can Jeter be so optimistic after watching his team give up 22 runs in the first three games of the series?
"We have to win one game, that's the bottom line," Jeter said. "We've won tough games before. If you don't think you're going to win, you may as well go home now."
Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina haven't given the Yankees the kind of quality starts that they are accustomed to seeing in the postseason. The trio averaged just over four innings per start, allowing 12 runs in 12 2/3 innings.
"Our pitching is capable of doing a better job. We haven't done a good job," said manager Joe Torre. "There's really not a lot to say to the team other than they know what they're made of. You judge how good a team is by how they respond to the negative stuff. It was a terrible night tonight. One game gets us going home. That's what we're looking forward to."
The Yankees turn to David Wells in Game 4, looking for him to give the team its first good performance by a starter.
"We like our chances with David on the mound," said Steve Karsay. "He's done very well in postseason play, and if we get to Game 5, we'll have the Rocket on the mound. Game 4 is like a one-game playoff for us. We can't look ahead to Game 5 yet."
Jeter is one of the 13 Yankees on the active roster that won three straight games against the Oakland A's to escape last year's ALDS with a five-game series win. With that experience behind him, the All-Star shortstop knows what he and his team have to do if they want to play past Saturday.
"Everybody knows now, the bottom line is you win or you go home," Jeter said. "There's nothing else to be said. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we have to come out and play a good game."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.