10/05/2002 1:21 pm ET
MLBeat: Long, Dye follow Justice
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Two-thirds of the Oakland outfield pretty much idolizes the other third. From the day David Justice arrived at the A's camp in Phoenix this spring, Terrence Long and Jermaine Dye have been devoted "DJ" disciples.
"He's done just about everything you can do in this game," Dye said. "Of course I listen to whatever he says."
"If you don't listen to that man, you don't listen to anybody," Long said. "Am I a David Justice follower? Yes."
Long proved it Friday night in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
In 1991, when Justice was a member of the Atlanta Braves, he hit a ball into the upper deck at the Metrodome during the World Series that longtime Twins observers still talk about. In the fourth inning Friday, Long pumped a solo home run close to the same spot.
Only Justice's ball was foul. Long's gave the A's a 3-0 lead. Two innings later, after the Twins had rallies to tie, Dye belted a line drive into the left-field bleachers for what turned out to be the game-winning homer in a 6-3 Oakland victory.
"I guess I taught them well," Justice joked.
Everyone was in a joking mood after the game, which put the A's a win from the AL Championship Series, with Tim Hudson on the mound Saturday for Game 4. Asked if he could remember the last time he hit a ball that well, Long paused for effect, rubbed his chin and looked toward the ceiling.
"Now you're making me think. ... Last year? Yeah. Last year. Playoffs."
Long hit two homers at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of last year's ALDS, and Friday's bolt gave him four career postseason homers.
"I think he likes the attention," said manager Art Howe.
Loose fit: A's lefty Barry Zito, who threw six innings on the way to winning Game 3, likes to hold his fastball with a very loose grip.
Sometimes too loose, as evidenced by his unintentional eephus pitch. With Torii Hunter at first base and nobody out in the second inning Friday, Zito lost control of a fastball at the start of his delivery, and the ball floated toward the first-base line.
"That's not the first time that's happened to me," Zito said. "But it's the first time it's happened on national TV."
Hunter took second base, and Zito loaded the bases with two walks, but he struck out Luis Rivas to escape the inning. That made it easier to laugh about the pitch after the game.
"Barry was laughing. I was laughing. Our manager was laughing, too," said catcher Ramon Hernandez. "I think the whole stadium was laughing."
Mychael Urban is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.