10/13/2004 3:06 AM ET
Q&A with Gary Sheffield: Game 1
Sheff talks about wild ALCS opener against Red Sox
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
|Gary Sheffield pumps his fist after scoring on Bernie Williams' two-run double in the eighth inning on Tuesday. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Williams' two-run double: 56K | 350K
NEW YORK -- Gary Sheffield and the Yankees won a wild game against the Red Sox on Tuesday night, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Sheffield went 3-for-4 with a walk and four runs scored, as the Yankees jumped out to an 8-0 lead before holding off a late Red Sox comeback.
After the game, Sheffield spoke with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand about his team's approach against Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina's perfect game bid and the importance of taking Game 1.
MLB.com: You started the first-inning, two-out rally against Schilling with a double. How important was it for your offense to strike early against him?
Sheffield: In that situation, I felt it was important to work the count and make him throw pitches. Even if I got out, the key was to make him throw pitches, not let him off easy. I looked for my pitch and was able to do something with it.
MLB.com: Four more runs in the third made it a six-run game. Were you surprised to be up, 6-0, against Schilling in the third?
Sheffield: It was just a matter of us taking what he gave us. If we could get something big, we'll take it, but we were thinking small ball until something could break loose.
MLB.com: Hideki Matsui drove in five runs in the game, including the big bases-loaded double in the third. How important has he been for your team?
Sheffield: He's been huge ever since the playoffs started. He's been the guy who has come through for us, gotten big hits. We all want to get on base in front of him, give him the opportunity to drive us in.
MLB.com: Did you have a feeling early that Mike Mussina was really on his game?
Sheffield: We could see that the ball was moving all over the place. Guys weren't getting good swings off of him, and he was really in control.
MLB.com: At what point did you realize that he had a perfect game going?
Sheffield: I think it was the sixth inning. I never looked at the board, because I was so focused on being in the right place and making the right play. That inning, I looked over and was like, "Wow, he's got a no-hitter going!" You just wanted him to keep it going.
MLB.com: Was it disappointing when Mark Bellhorn broke it up with a double in the seventh?
Sheffield: Yeah, but we were all just thinking about winning the ballgame.
MLB.com: The game went from 8-0 to 8-7 in a flash. What's going through your mind?
Sheffield: Just get an out. We wanted to get that last out, and we'd worry about the rest later.
MLB.com: How much of a lift was it when you found out that Mariano Rivera had returned from Panama in time for the game?
Sheffield: It was uplifting for everybody when we saw him. It lifted the whole ballclub, because for him to come to the game with what he's going through, that's tremendous.
MLB.com: His presence was one thing. How about his performance?
Sheffield: We were feeling real good, because we wanted him out there in the ninth. We'll always take our chances with Mo.
MLB.com: You take the first game, a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven. How big was this win?
Sheffield: It's always big to win at home. You want to control your turf, and we established that tonight.
MLB.com: This is your 20th Yankees-Red Sox game this year. Are games like this becoming common for you?
Sheffield: I've never been a part of anything like this. I've seen it on TV, but to be here in the middle of it, it's everything I thought it would be.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.