Jason Giambi hit a tying single with two outs in the eighth inning and Williams followed with a three-run homer, providing another stunning Yankee Stadium comeback as New York beat the Anaheim Angels 8-5 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the AL division series.
"Thank God I'm in this dugout and not the other,'' said Giambi, who lost to the Yankees in the first round the past two seasons with Oakland. "I've been there too many times.''
Showing the dramatics that fueled last year's postseason run to Game 7 of the World Series, the Yankees rallied to spoil the Angels' first postseason game in 16 years.
After Troy Glaus' second homer put Anaheim ahead 5-4 in the top of the eighth, the Yankees rallied to win their sixth straight postseason game at home. Four of the wins have come on last at-bat homers.
"Even when Glaus hit the homer, it never was a situation where guys went, 'oh.' You never feel the wind taken out of the sails on this ballclub,'' Giambi said. "They always feel like they're a rally away because it's happened so many times.''
"Two outs, nobody on in eighth inning and there's Soriano fighting his way on for a 3-2 walk,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "What probably helped us is we've been there before.''
With closer Troy Percival warming up, Scioscia stuck with Weber, who walked Derek Jeter. Scioscia then brought in lefty Scott Schoeneweis, even though Percival had struck out Giambi five times in five career at-bats.
Giambi hit a hard one-hopper that deflected off first baseman Scott Spiezio's glove into right field, scoring Soriano with the tying run.
"I don't mind Schoeney against Giambi,'' Scioscia said. "I think he's done a good job in the times he's faced Jason. He made a good pitch.''
Williams worked the count to 2-2 against Brendan Donnelly and
then hit a drive to right field for his 17th career postseason home
run and Yankee Stadium began rocking again as it did last fall.
"It was a great feeling,'' Williams said. "Everything happened so quick. I don't think I remember running the bases.''
The thunderous ovation continued as closer Mariano Rivera came in from the bullpen to his heavy metal anthem "Enter Sandman.'' It was a comforting sight for the Yankees after their most indispensable player spent three stints on the disabled list this season.
Rivera worked through an easy ninth for a save, showing no effects from his blown save in Game 7 of the World Series to Arizona last year.
Steve Karsay pitched a hitless eighth for the win.
The Angels came into the series with one player with playoff experience. But the shakiest move came from their manager, who was a postseason star with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.
"I didn't have to have any thoughts,'' Percival said. "I was getting ready for Bernie with the bases loaded. I get ready to pitch when my manager tells me to pitch. I've been doing this too long to get frustrated.''
The series was billed as a matchup of Yankees longball against Angels smallball. And the Bronx Bombers came out on top as usual in October.
Giambi homered and drove in three runs in his first playoff game
with New York. Newcomer Rondell White and Jeter also homered.
The performances by Giambi and White put to rest questions about how the Yankees would replace postseason stalwarts Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius.
Last year, on consecutive nights in the World Series at Yankee
Stadium, Martinez and Brosius hit two-out, two-run homers in the
ninth that tied it. New York beat Arizona in both games.
The Yankees, in their eighth straight postseason, have played 83 postseason games since Anaheim was last in the playoffs in 1986. The Angels lost that series in seven games to Roger Clemens and the Boston Red Sox.
This time, the Angels wore down the Rocket to score four runs in 5 2/3 innings, tying the game on Glaus' first homer leading off the sixth.
Jarrod Washburn controlled his nerves and used four double plays
to keep the Yankees in check. He allowed four runs and six hits in
seven innings, throwing only 80 pitches, meaning he could be fresh
enough to come back on short rest in Game 4 if necessary.
Giambi, who took 21 at-bats to hit his first regular-season
homer with the Yankees, made sure he wouldn't be a postseason,
free-agent bust like Dave Winfield was in New York.
He made it 3-1 in the fourth with his second career postseason
homer. But this one had to feel different. Unlike last year's shot
in Game 1 of the division series for Oakland, this time the
Yankees' fans gave him a standing ovation, prompting a curtain
The Angels got to Clemens in the fifth inning, scoring two runs to tie the game at 3.
The most entertaining moment came with a runner on first and one out. With Adam Kennedy running, David Eckstein flung his bat at a pitchout and fouled it off. The bat went toward Clemens, who looked at it before walking back to the mound as the crowd hooted.
Clemens didn't even attempt to pick up the bat -- or throw it -- like he did in the 2000 World Series.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Garret Anderson reached for
an outside pitch and flicked it for a game-tying, two-run double.
Washburn allowed three homers in a game for the first time since Sept. 26, 2000, against Oakland. ... The Angels played 2,527 games between playoff appearances. ... The Angels tied an AL
playoff record by turning four double plays. New York led the AL by grounding into 150 double plays on the year. ... Clemens' teams are now 1-5 in his six Game 1 postseason starts.