A night after Cleveland's offense set records, El Duque limited
the Indians to one run and three hits in seven innings and Posada
hit a go-ahead, two-run homer that led the New York Yankees over
the Indians 5-3 Wednesday.
"El Duque set the tone," Derek Jeter said. "He did everything
we needed him to do."
When Travis Hafner hit an RBI single in the first inning, the
Yankees left the bases loaded in the bottom half and Boston spurted
to a four-run lead against Anaheim at Fenway Park, New York's AL
East lead over the Red Sox looked to be in danger of shrinking to
2½ games, down from 10½ on the morning of Aug. 16.
But the Yankees, sent to their most lopsided loss ever in a 22-0
rout Tuesday night, rallied when Posada homered off C.C. Sabathia
(10-9) in the fourth. John Olerud added a solo homer later in the
inning, and Miguel Cairo hit another in the seventh off David Riske
for a 4-1 lead. Jeter had a hard-hit RBI single off the glove of
third baseman Casey Blake in the eighth.
Boston beat Anaheim 12-7, leaving the Yankees' lead at 3½ games.
"Duque is back to where we remember him, where he was really
our No. 1 starter back there in '99. He loves the opportunity to
stand tall," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "After last night,
we certainly needed a pick-me-up, and he gave it to us."
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was on hand for the second
straight night and tried to avoid questions.
"I don't mean to be rude. Just savor the victory," he said.
Fans were greeted by inspirational messages on Yankee Stadium
sign boards and scoreboards, including: "When the going gets
tough, the tough get going." Steinbrenner released a statement
before the game, part of which appeared on some of the boards.
"Sure, we got punished badly last night, but winners never quit
and quitters never win," he said. "New Yorkers never quit, and we
reflect the spirit of New York."
The players he pays certainly were aware of his presence.
"It was having the principal overlooking the classroom," Alex
Hernandez (6-0), who missed last season because of a shoulder
injury, has become the Yankees' ace at age 38, just the second New
York starter to win in 17 games since Aug. 13.
"He loves pitching in this situation," Posada said. "He keeps
coming and coming."
Pitching against the team he blanked for seven innings in the
key fourth game of the 1998 AL championship series, he struck out
seven and didn't allow a runner past second base after the first
"It seems like the bigger the situation, the bigger the forum,
the more comfortable he feels," Rodriguez said. "You can see him,
and he's so animated. It's fun to watch."
Hernandez stopped watching Tuesday's game when it was 15-0 and
said he didn't know the final score.
"I tried not to look at the scoreboard last night because I
didn't want to get scared," he said through a translator.
After Hafner's single in the first put Cleveland ahead and left
runners at the corners, Hernandez got Blake to pop up, starting a
stretch in which he retired 11 of 12 batters. New York improved to
9-1 in El Duque's starts this season.
"He's tough because he has two or three speeds on most of his
pitches, and a lot of different arm angles," Blake said.
Hernandez had a humorous time in the third when he picked up
Coco Crisp's grounder and stood by the first-base line with the
ball as Crisp tried to retreat. Hernandez held his hands out, as if
to say "What are you going to do next?" before tagging out Crisp
and folding his arms.
"There's only one way to first base," Hernandez said in
"He tried to deke me twice. I wasn't going to move," he said,
returning to Spanish. "He was a gentleman. He gave up."
Tom Gordon allowed a walk, bloop single, run-scoring wild pitch
and an RBI bloop double to Victor Martinez in the eighth as
Cleveland closed to 4-3, then left the field to boos. Mariano
Rivera retired Hafner on an inning-ending grounder and finished for
his major league-leading 46th save in 49 chances.
Sabathia, 1-6 against New York in his career, allowed three runs
and five hits in six innings as Cleveland dropped eight games
behind AL Central-leading Minnesota. He was expecting a tough night
from the Yankees.
"They came out much more focused," he said.
Yankees 1B Jason Giambi took batting practice for the
fourth straight day as he tries to get back in shape following his
illness-filled season. ... A night after tying the AL record for a
nine-inning game with six hits, Omar Vizquel went 0-for-2 with two
walks. ... The Indians' shutout streak ended at 24 innings.