Throughout the ALDS, Yankees reliever Mike Stanton has provided an exclusive "First Person" diary to Yankees.com and MLB.com. As the series came to an end on Monday, Stanton looks at the decisive Game 5.
|David Justice's homer gave the Yankees a little breathing room, writes Stanton.
Monday, October 15 -- Pregame
The flight home was not bad, a little long, but better than it would have been in the alternative. I walked in my house at about 4:45, so I was pretty tired.
We have a night game tonight, but with the time differences, it's basically at the same time as the West Coast games were.
I woke up today, got the kids to school, hung out a bit on this beautiful day and then took a nap. Then it was time to come to the ballpark, and now we're getting ready for the game.
This is as big a game as we've had, mainly because it's today's game. That's always our approach -- the biggest game of the year is the one we have right now, not tomorrow or yesterday. From all reports I get, Roger Clemens is doing great. If he's on, it should be a pretty good night for us.
In a game like today, our entire staff is pretty much ready to pitch. The only pitcher that really has a role today is Mariano Rivera, and even he'll go longer than usual if he needs to. We need for our lineup to get some hits, score a couple of runs early and allow Roger to be Roger.
I don't think we're feeling pressure, because like I always say, pressure is self-imposed. We're pretty loose as a club overall, we just had good batting practice, everyone is having fun and getting their work in. That's the way it should be.
There's a little more excitement, a little more electricity at the stadium, as well there should be. It's good to be back home and out of such a hostile environment. The people in Oakland love their A's -- though not quite as much as New Yorkers love their Yankees. It should be pretty wild. Hopefully we'll give them something to yell about.
New York defeated Oakland 5-3 in front of 56,642 screaming fans at Yankee Stadium, sending the Yankees to their fourth straight ALCS. Stanton pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Roger Clemens, allowing just one hit, an RBI single to Jason Giambi. Stanton was credited with the win, improving his career postseason mark to 5-1. After the game, in a celebratory Yankee clubhouse, Stanton reflected on the game, the remarkable comeback against the A's, and the ALCS showdown with the Seattle Mariners.
Monday, October 15 -- Postgame
We did it.
It's an awesome feeling, and it really shows the resiliency of this team. I guess it just takes us a few games to get warmed up. Clemens really battled them, man he was throwing hard. Sometimes in games like this, you have to go to your bullpen early. Our starting pitching did a great job, even in the two games we lost. Our lineup kept battling against a great pitching staff and you really have to tip your hat to them.
Even though Clemens gave us just 4 1/3, no out in a game like this is any bigger than any other out. Those were huge outs at the beginning. We fed off his emotions, he was so pumped up and throwing hard. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.
Once we got to Mulder, which we didn't do the first time, we were like "Hey, we really can do this." The guys fed off that and kept going.
The only mistake I made was to Jason Giambi, but he's just a great hitter. After that I made some quality pitches and got some guys to pop up, and over the years it's been a pretty good equation to get Mariano in there as quick as possible.
I told Joe (Torre) and Mel (Stottlemyre) I had more left in me, but they wanted to go with Mendoza and then get Mo in there for two. In the playoffs, that's a good equation -- get Mo in there as soon as you can.
We have made quality pitches. Mendoza has been absolutely incredible the whole second half. He has a great sinker and such confidence in himself, he's been rock solid.
David Justice's pinch-hit homer was a big home run because it gave us a little breathing room. It allowed Mo the ability to not be perfect. He was, but he didn't have to be.
Winning this series after being down 0-2 at home is awesome. It's great to do things that people haven't done before, but this was only step two of four. It's great, but we stll have some work to do.
I got credited with the win, but that doesn't matter to me. That just meant I was in the right place at the right time. As long as someone on our team gets it, that works for me.
Seattle is a great team, but in the playoffs, there aren't any teams that aren't. They have a great pitching staff and some clutch hitters. We're going to have to bring our "A game" to beat them. Hopefully there won't have to be another Houdini act.
Once the series starts 0-0, momentum is out the window. They won, we won, now it's time to go to work.
We get to face our old teammate Jeff Nelson in the ALCS. Nellie's a great pitcher. He's great in the postseason, we watched him pitch great today. He's just one of many on that team that we'll have to get some quality at-bats against.
The crowd was absolutely electric today, our 10th man. I actually had to calm down, because when you start to feed off your emotions, you can get outside your game.
You can't put this up there with championships, but it's a very close second. It's nice to do things that no one has done before, but now it's time to start thinking about the next step.
We have another cross-country trip tonight, but it beats the alternative of going home. It will be a long night, but I don't think anyone on the plane will complain about it.
Stay with Yankees.com throughout the ALCS, as Mike Stanton will continue his daily diary with Mark Feinsand, site reporter for Yankees.com. Feinsand can be reached at email@example.com.