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World Series 2001
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10/18/2001 03:44 PM ET
Pettitte dominates Mariners as Yanks take Game 1
By Carrie Muskat
Paul O'Neill hit a two-run home run against Aaron Sele Wednesday.

Box score
O'Neill makes most of chance

Photo gallery: Game 1
Game highlights: 56K | 300K
Postgame: 300K | Audio
Postgame press conferences:
Torre | Piniella | Pettitte | O'Neill

SEATTLE -- The best team in baseball got beat Wednesday by the best team in baseball.

Andy Pettitte was dominating as the defending world champion New York Yankees posted a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series before a sellout sun-splashed crowd of 47,644 at SAFECO Field.

"You're facing the best team and the best pitchers (in the postseason)," Seattle starter and loser Aaron Sele said. "Look at what Andy did to us today. He pitched great. He was the key to that ballgame."

Paul O'Neill, who had dinner with Pettitte Tuesday night, hit a two-run homer to back his pitcher, now 1-1 in the postseason. Next time, Pettitte will pick up the tab. The left-hander had lost twice to the Mariners during the regular season and is the first to admit he struggled against Seattle. But that's old news.

"He steps on the mound and makes great pitches," O'Neill said. "That's what he's done in the past and that's what he did today."

Whether they're motivated this postseason because they don't like second billing to the Mariners or because New Yorkers desperately need a reason to cheer, the Yankees maintained the same scheme that has resulted in four World Championships in the last five years.

Pitching. Defense. Good hitting. They make it look easy.

"We're used to winning big games," O'Neill said of the Yankees, now 50-17 in postseason play since 1996. "I don't think that's anything different from the season. It doesn't mean you just show up. We've been successful at what we do obviously because of great pitching."

"We have confidence," Pettitte said.

The Mariners were dubbed the best team in baseball this season because of their AL record 116 wins. That title had been reserved for the Yankees. They want it back. New York manager Joe Torre has a good luck charm. He's wearing a rally cap from Yogi Berra that says, "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," which he unveiled during the Division Series. The Yankees are the first team in Major League history to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games at home, which they did against Oakland. Of course he brought the hat with him to Seattle.

The Yankees manager, who has a soft spot in his heart for New York which is still reeling from the terrorist attacks, had one of the clubhouse kids stitch a NYPD patch on it.

Mike Mussina (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who has allowed one earned run in his last 22 innings in postseason play, will start Game 2 Thursday against Freddy Garcia (1-1, 3.86 ERA) who was Seattle's only winning pitcher in last year's ALCS against New York.

The Yankees beat the Mariners in six games last year en route to their third straight World Series title. They could only beat them three times in nine regular season games.

But this is the Yankees' favorite time of year. They even stifled Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who set a Division Series record by batting .600 in the five games against Cleveland. He went 1-for-4 Wednesday, finally collecting a double with one out in the M's ninth. He advanced and scored on a pair of wild pitches by Mariano Rivera.

"(Keeping Ichiro off base) made pitching to the rest of the lineup a lot less stressful," Torre said. "You knew he was going to get his hit. It's the best reliever, and he gets a double to left field."

This is the fourth time in ALCS history that the same clubs have met in consecutive seasons, and first since New York and Kansas City played three straight 1976-78.

All the miles logged by the Yankees and Mariners in the last few days weren't a problem. It was Pettitte and the distinct line of shade and bright sun that created a tough backdrop for the hitters.

The left-hander faced the minimum number of batters through four innings. Edgar Martinez notched the first hit leading off the Seattle fifth. Mike Cameron then doubled off the left-field wall, and Martinez, bothered by a sore groin, reached third. John Olerud then grounded out to shortstop Derek Jeter, allowing Martinez to score and close to 3-1. But Pettitte regrouped and struck out Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson to snuff the M's chances.

Pettitte, who was 15-10 during the regular season, struck out seven and walked one over eight innings. The Yankees now have won 10 of Pettitte's last 11 postseason starts. The only blemish was in the Division Series against Oakland, when he lost Game 2.

"He's pitched so many huge games for us," O'Neill said of Pettitte. "He doesn't get enough credit. Everybody knows the intensity of 'Rocket' (Roger Clemens) but (Pettitte) doesn't get enough credit for battling people.

"You just knew from the first pitch with the shadows the way they were that if he makes his pitches, we'll win this game," O'Neill said.

Pettitte wasn't sure how he'd feel. His arm strength hasn't been great since Sept. 26 when he was hit by a line drive by Tampa Bay's Ben Grieve. On Wednesday, his arm finally felt normal.

"I felt like I had a good curveball, a better curve than I've had in a while," Pettitte said. "I felt I could throw it for strikes whenever I wanted to."

Torre has seen Pettitte get better and better as he continues to amass postseason wins. There was Game 5 against Baltimore in the 1996 ALCS, a decisive 6-4 win. There was another win in Game 5 of the World Series when he outdueled Atlanta's John Smoltz to win 1-0.

"He has stood tall in games in the postseason," Torre said.

The Yankees manager had to lobby against trading Pettitte. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre has lobbied to keep the left-hander. Pettitte likes pinstripes. "I think the most impressive thing he does is that he's able to focus and block everything out," Torre said.

The Mariners missed their chance.

"Guys like Pettitte, you've got to get them early," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "Once they settle in and get a good rhythm, it becomes a more difficult chore." "He was good, without a doubt," Seattle's Jay Buhner said of Pettitte, who struck him out twice. "He was moving the ball in and out, had a good cutter, getting the two-seamer away and his big curveball later in the game.

"He kept us off-balance and pitched a great game, obviously," Buhner said. "It wasn't a real fun day up there at the plate against him."

The Yankees won even though their No. 2-5 hitters were a combined 1-for-16. And they won even though Rivera looked human in the ninth, uncorking two wild pitches. He did pick up his third save this postseason, although Ichiro made it interesting with his double.

Sele (0-2), who has been on teams that have been knocked out of the playoffs three times by the Yankees, gave up three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. The right-hander remained winless in six career postseason starts and has gotten just seven runs of support. He has a better chance of seeing Mt. Rainier than getting a run.

Jorge Posada walked to lead off the Yankees second and two outs later, advanced to third on Alfonso Soriano's single. Chuck Knoblauch then bounced a single down the third-base line that David Bell deflected into foul territory. Posada scampered home on the play.

Posada doubled to right to lead off the fourth, dodging a throw from Ichiro which was in time to shortstop Carlos Guillen covering at second. But Posada slid safely into second under Guillen's tag. O'Neill followed with his first home run and only second hit of the postseason, a line drive into the right-field seats, to go ahead 3-0.

Guillen was making his first postseason appearance after being sidelined in late September because of tuberculosis. He received a standing ovation from the sellout SAFECO crowd during his first at-bat. But their mood swung the opposite way when second base umpire Gary Cederstrom called Posada safe.

David Justice added a RBI double with two out in the ninth and the Yankees now have won Game 1 six times in their nine previous ALCS. They've gone on to win all six. One of those exceptions was last year against Seattle.

The Mariners aren't rattled.

"We have the same attitude we had all year," Sele said. "We know it's going to be a tough series. Just come out and play hard. Whether we win or loss, the next day (the M's) come out and play hard."

Carrie Muskat is reporter for

Box score American League Championship Series

Yankees 4, Mariners 2

at SAFECO Field


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Yankees 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 4 9 0
Mariners 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 4 0
Chuck Knoblauch LF 5 0 3 1 0 0 2 .333
Derek Jeter SS 5 0 0 0 0 1 5 .348
David Justice DH 4 0 1 1 1 0 0 .235
Bernie Williams CF 3 0 0 0 2 1 2 .190
Tino Martinez 1B 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 .091
Jorge Posada C 3 2 1 0 1 1 1 .429
Paul O'Neill RF 3 1 2 2 0 0 1 .214
a-Shane Spencer PH-RF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .222
Scott Brosius 3B 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .050
Alfonso Soriano 2B 4 1 2 0 0 0 1 .273
Totals 35 4 9 4 4 5 17 -

a-flied to right for Oneill in the 8th.

2B - Posada (2, Sele); Knoblauch (2, Sele).
- Oneill (1, 4th inning off Sele 1 on, 0 out). S - Brosius.
- Knoblauch (2), Oneill 2 (2), Justice (2).
2-out RBI
- Knoblauch, Justice.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out
- Martinez 1, Jeter 3, Knoblauch 1, B Williams 1.
Team LOB
- 9.

SB - Soriano (3, 2nd base off Paniagua/Wilson).

2 (Soriano-Jeter-Martinez, Brosius-Soriano-Martinez).

Ichiro Suzuki RF 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 .542
Carlos Guillen SS 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
b-Stan Javier PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .222
Bret Boone 2B 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 .125
Edgar Martinez DH 4 1 1 0 0 2 2 .300
Mike Cameron CF 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 .313
John Olerud 1B 3 0 0 1 0 0 1 .150
Jay Buhner LF 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000
Dan Wilson C 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .167
David Bell 3B 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .278
a-Mark McLemore PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .158
Totals 29 2 4 1 2 7 7 -
a-popped to pitcher for Bell in the 9th; b-grounded to pitcher for C Guillen in the 9th.

2B - Cameron (4, Pettitte); Suzuki (2, Rivera).
- Olerud (2).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out
- Wilson 1.
- Olerud, Cameron.
Team LOB
- 2.

Andy Pettitte(W, 1-1) 8 3 1 1 1 7 99 36-63 26 0 1.12
Mariano Rivera (S, 3) 1 1 1 1 1 0 14 6-8 5 0 9.00
- Rivera 2.
Ground balls-fly balls: Pettitte 13-4; Rivera 2-1.
Aaron Sele (L, 0-2) 6 7 3 3 3 3 107 44-63 28 1 4.50
Norm Charlton 1.1 0 0 0 1 2 20 9-11 5 0 0.00
Jose Paniagua 1.2 2 1 1 0 0 26 7-19 7 0 5.40
Ground balls-fly balls:
Sele 8-7; Charlton 1-1; Paniagua 0-5.
Umpires: HP--Ed Montague. 1B--Wally Bell. 2B--Gary Cederstrom. 3B--Charlie Reliford. LF--John Shulock. RF--Tim Welke.
Time: 3:06
Attendance: 47,644
Weather: 53 degrees, partly cloudy. Wind: 8 mph, left to right.