10/17/2004 2:59 AM ET
Sheffield Q&A: Game 3, ALCS
Slugger talks about the Yankees' big night
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
|Gary Sheffield hits an RBI double in the fifth inning Saturday. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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BOSTON -- Gary Sheffield and the Yankees are one win away from the World Series after handing the Boston Red Sox a 19-8 pounding on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Sheffield went 4-for-5 with a double, home run and four RBIs. His three-run homer in the fourth inning snapped a 6-6 tie, accounting for what turned out to be the winning runs in the game.
After the game, Sheffield spoke with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand about the record-breaking night for the Yankees, Hideki Matsui's monster night and what it feels like to be so close to the Fall Classic.
MLB.com: When the runs are being piled up early, what are your thoughts on this game?
Sheffield: I thought it was going to be a slugfest, so we had to be up to the task. You don't want to anticipate anything in this series, just take what happens and do your best to respond to it.
MLB.com: You threw out Manny Ramirez at third base in the first inning to kill a rally. How important was that at that stage in the game?
Sheffield: I was charging the ball hard, but the grass was slowing it down. I didn't think he was going to go, but when I saw him round the base, I decided to pick it up with my bare hand. I picked it clean and just threw, made an accurate throw. It was big, because it was the third out and killed their scoring opportunity.
MLB.com: The first three innings took an hour and 45 minutes. Did it feel that long being on the field?
Sheffield: I didn't know what was going on. We knew we had a lot of runs up there, then you look at the scoreboard and say, wow, we've done all this in the third inning? With two teams that can pitch like this, you never expect that much offense.
MLB.com: With the game tied, 6-6, you hit a three-run homer against Curtis Leskanic in the fourth inning. How big was that?
Sheffield: Jeter and I were talking about breaking the game open there, and when your captain says something, you listen. It worked out pretty good.
MLB.com: What was the pitch and what were you looking for?
Sheffield: I remember in New York when he faced me, he kept throwing sliders. With Matsui as hot as he is, I figured he'd throw me a fastball. He didn't. I thought to myself that if I didn't get a first-pitch fastball, I'd look for a breaking ball. That's what I did.
MLB.com: Speaking of Matsui, he had five hits, including two homers, and scored five runs. Have you seen a player on this kind of roll in the postseason?
Sheffield: I've never seen anything like this. You think guys will make outs here or there, but he's just been huge for us. Whenever we need someone to start it off, he gets a hit. When we need a big RBI, he gets it. Then, when you sleep on him, he's hitting home runs. He's the ultimate package.
MLB.com: You know Kevin Brown pretty well. How disappointing was it to see him last just two innings?
Sheffield: I think he was just rushing out there a little bit. When we put runs on the board, he tried to be too fine. When you have a three-run lead and you're Kevin Brown, you just try to throw strikes. When you think like that, it can be hard.
MLB.com: How big was Javier Vazquez out of the bullpen?
Sheffield: When we took the lead again, he settled down and was able to pitch like he always pitches for us. He came up huge.
MLB.com: Is there a thought in your mind that this time tomorrow night, you might be celebrating a trip to the World Series?
Sheffield: You don't want to think about the World Series too early. Right now, we're focused on getting one more win. We have to treat tomorrow like we did today, because we'd like to get it done in Game 4.
MLB.com: The top five batters in your lineup, including yourself, had 17 hits, four homers, 16 runs and 15 RBIs. What comes to your mind when you hear those numbers?
Sheffield: Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle (Laughing). Matsui is used to all of this, A-Rod, Jeter, these guys have performed on the big stage. It makes all of our jobs easier.
MLB.com: How much are you looking forward to getting back to the ballpark on Sunday?
Sheffield: It was a long game, so we're a little tired. We'll be a little more rested being on this end than the other end, so I'll probably sleep pretty good tonight. We want to come back tomorrow and finish it up.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.