NEW YORK -- A's Manager Art Howe made sure to say it before Game 5 of the American League Division Series here, so his opinion can't be taken as skewed by his team's loss in Game 5.
|Jason Giambi went 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
Howe thinks the ALDS should be a seven-game affair. Five games doesn't always reveal the better team.
"I've always been a proponent of the seven-game series," Howe said. "I think it's fairer to both teams because you get to use more of the roster."
To Howe's way of thinking, a five-game series often prevent a manager from dancing with everyone on his card.
"It takes you 25 men to get [to the playoffs]," he said, "and all of a sudden you're using maybe 20 in the postseason. I don't know if that's fair."
Nor does Howe think two dominant pitchers should be enough to win a series. Think Arizona in this year's NLDS against St. Louis.
"If you get a team that has two awesome starters, you are basically going to be eliminated," he said. "I don't think that's great for baseball. I think the best-of-seven is something we should go to."
TRYING TO DO IT FOR DYE
Having seen Jermaine Dye suffer a broken left tibia Sunday in Game 4, the A's took the field at Yankee Stadium knowing that their cleanup hitter and Gold Glove right fielder is out of action until next season.
But with a little white marker, they made it clear that Dye is not far from their hearts. Everywhere you looked, Dye's uniform number, 24, was written on caps, shoes and sweatbands.
"We're playing for Jermaine," said Johnny Damon, who played with Dye in Kansas City and is one of his closest friends on the team. "He's been such a big part of our season, and we want him to be a big part of this night, too."
Howe echoed Damon's thoughts, and when it was noted that his team seemed lifeless late in Sunday's loss, he attributed it not to the loss of the game but to the loss of Dye.
"If we were deflated it was mostly because of Jermaine Dye," Howe offered. "He's such a well-liked guy on the team and such a big part of the club. Everybody was feeling for him."
Howe is a serial lineup juggler to begin with, but Dye's absence forced him to move things around even more than usual.
The first three spots in the order -- Damon, Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi -- remained unchanged, followed by Eric Chavez, Terrence Long, Ron Gant and Jeremy Giambi. Catcher Ramon Hernandez and second baseman Frank Menechino, who did not start Game 4, were back in the bottom of the order Monday. Gant started in left field, Long in right, Jeremy Giambi at DH.
"It wasn't [a lineup] that came out of the air, that's for sure," Howe said. "We talked it over a little bit and spent some time evaluating, and this is what we came up with."
The biggest quandary surrounded who would replace Dye in the cleanup spot, and Howe ignored Chavez's .176 (3-for-17) series average in putting him there. Chavez' power numbers in the regular season -- 32 homers, 114 RBIs -- and two-hit game Sunday carried more weight.
"Chavez is one of our leading home run and RBI guys," Howe explained. "He got a couple hits yesterday, and I'm hoping that will get him going."
Chavez hit into an inning-ending double play in the first inning, grounded into a fielder's choice as the potential tying run in the eighth and finished the night 0-for-4.
Sitting in front of his locker, Long considered the notion of an entire nation rooting against his team. It's certainly a plausible idea, given the way America has rallied around all things New York in the wake of Sept. 11.
But Long, who doubled in the second inning Monday and was the only Athletic to hit safely in all five ALDS games, wasn't buying it.
"I don't know, man," Long said. "There's a lot of Yankees fans out there, and probably even more now, but you know, there's a lot of people out there who hate the Yankees, too. I don't know if that's changed.
"We're definitely the enemy coming into Yankee Stadium. Heck, sometime we're the enemy when the Yankees come to our place, because there's so many Yankees fans in the Bay Area. But no, I can't see a bunch of people who didn't like the Yankees before all of a sudden wanting them to win now."
With his club facing a do-or-die game a day after an ugly loss that required the services of four Oakland relief pitchers, Game 2 winner Tim Hudson went to Howe before Monday's game.
"Hudson came into my office and said, 'Skip, if you need me, I'm ready.' So if something happens early, don't be surprised to see Huddy in there."
Asked if there were any situations in which Hudson would not be used out of the bullpen, Howe smiled and said, "Well, I hope it's just Mulder and [closer Jason] Isringhausen. We're going to use anybody and everybody, except maybe [Barry] Zito."
Hudson was up in the bullpen when Mulder ran into trouble in the bottom of the third, then entered the game with one out and one on in the fifth. He got out of that inning, but he allowed a pinch-hit solo homer by David Justice in the sixth that gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead. Jim Mecir took over in the seventh.
TORRE: A'S TRIO TERRIFIC
In his pre-game press conference, Yankees Manager Joe Torre was effusive in his praise for Mulder, Hudson and Zito.
"I don't remember a trio at this age being this good and this calm and this effective," Torre said. "Hudson and Mulder came into those first two games like seasoned veterans. They had a great presence out there. ... I was very impressed."
EXTRA INNINGS ...
Jason Giambi went 4-for-4 with two RBIs to become the ninth player in A's history to get four hits in a playoff game. The seventh was Damon, who did it in Game 1, and the eighth was Tejada, who did it in Game 3. ... Dye is expected to be in a cast for up to 10 weeks, after which he'll begin intense rehabilitation. Barring complications, he should be ready for Spring Training. ... Jeremy Giambi, who drove in Oakland's second run with a second-inning single, hit safely in all four of his starts at DH in the series. ... Long, who led the A's with 52 multi-hit games during the regular season, had two more in the ALDS. ...The weather for this series was fantastic, perhaps even more so in New York than in Oakland. Both weekend games were played under a blazing sun, which is nice but not unusual for the Bay Area in the fall. The crisp 65-degree weather at game time Monday, however, was extremely unusual for October in the Bronx. ... Tejada twice was knocked down by pitches from Yankees starter Roger Clemens in the fifth inning, the second one glancing off Tejada's hand. That was it for Clemens, who was removed in favor of Mike Stanton.
Mychael Urban is the Site Reporter for OaklandAthletics.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.