Yankees at a loss? Forget it
NEW YORK -- You expected tears? Gnashing of teeth? Self-flagellation?
Nope. None of it. Not from the Yankees. They lost Game 6 of the AL Championship Series to the Red Sox last night, 9-6, meaning they'll have to play Game 7 tonight and face Pedro Martinez. They blew a number of chances -- Jason Giambi being the chief culprit -- but they did not seem distressed, disturbed, or depressed about the situation. Disappointed? Most definitely.
"Of course you're disappointed," team captain Derek Jeter said. "But it's over now. Why hang your head? You've got Rocket [Roger Clemens] going against Pedro. This is fun. This is what you play for, to get the opportunity to play in a Game 7. You can't sit around and worry about this one. It's over."
Agreed the slumping Giambi, who had a solo homer in the first inning but struck out three times and stranded five base runners, "You've got to put it behind you. It's over, done with; you can't change it. It's not over. We have to play another good game, hopefully move on to the World Series. That's why I came here: to have a chance to play in games like these."
This is the first time in this postseason that the Yankees will face an elimination game. The Red Sox will be playing in their fifth. Yes, the Yankees prevailed in must-win situations in Game 2 against Minnesota and Game 2 against Boston. But there still was wiggle room in those instances. There's none tonight.
Most of the Yankees took the high road, saying these teams were destined to go the distance and it's fitting and proper that it should be so. They played 19 times in the regular season, and New York won 10. They've split six games in this series. You have two future Hall of Famers pitching tonight.
"I guess it was supposed to come down to seven games, as much as you hate to think about it," said Yankees manager Joe Torre.
The Yankees could use some juice at the plate. They did erupt last night, for 12 hits, an explosion that finally pushed their team batting average over the Mendoza line to a still shaky .218. Giambi opened the scoring with a homer in his first at-bat, but he then proceeded to go hitless in his next four, fanning with runners on second and third with one out in the sixth, when the Yankees led, 6-4. He's hitting .190 for the series. "I can't say enough for him," said Torre, who used the word "battle" three times in explaining Giambi's missed opportunities. "He's struggling right now. But you put him in the lineup, and every time he comes up I expect big things from him. Hopefully, I'm right tomorrow."
"I have some good at-bats, some bad at-bats," said Giambi, whose production over six ALCS games consists of four hits in 21 at-bats. "But I can't worry about that. The only thing I can worry about now is Game 7."
That is, to a man, the Yankee mind-set. They have not lost two straight playoff games yet, responding with three straight victories after their Game 1 loss to the Twins, with two straight wins after their loss in Game 1 to Boston, and with another win after their loss to the Sox in Game 4. Lack of confidence is not an issue with these fellows.
"You can't go back in time," Jeter said. "It's over with. We lost it. Now come back and play Game 7."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.