"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Even Steven

Andy Pettitte was all over the place to start Game Two of the American League Championship Serious. He left fastballs and breaking pitches up in the zone and the Red Sox smacked six hits off of the Yankee lefty in the first two innings. But Boston only managed to score one run, and before you knew it, Pettitte had calmed himself down.

Nick Johnson was 1 for his last 33 when he smashed a two-run homer off Derek Lowe in the bottom of the second. The Yankees would go on to squander several opportunities themselves, but Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui added RBI singles, and in the seventh inning, Jorge Posada had a 2 run double that put the game away.

Jose Contreras got four outs and looked sharp for the second straight night. Mariano Rivera allowed a harmless two-out single to pinch-hitter Todd Walker, and is looking better than he has all season. Early in the year, Mariano was tapping his left foot several times before he delivered a pitch. It reminded me of a cat stepping on a ledge and tentatively trying to keep its balance. ESPN ran a segment on this a couple of days ago, and said that Rivera had been having problems with his left foot. He isn’t tapping any longer—the foot must be fine—and his pitches appear to have even more zip than ever. (It’s funny, but for all the alarmist talk about Rivera this season, the Yankees great closer posted the lowest ERA of his career.)

There was some minor drama late, as Contreras straightened David Ortiz up with a Nuke LaLooshe fastball in the eighth. Bronson Arroyo returned the sentiment when he plunked ‘Lil Sori in the back in the bottom of the inning.

Unable to contain themselves, the Yankee Stadium crowd chanted “We want Pedro,” at the end of the game. Be careful what you wish for: the Yanks are going to get him. (Surely, Red Sox fans remember Game Three of the 1999 ALCS: it was the one raucous highlight of that series for them.) Martinez, the ultimate villain, was smiling in the dugout. (Cue cliffhanger music.) Pedro is an archtype—the baddy who ties the girl to the train track. He will pitch the pivotal Game Three against another archtype bad guy—Rocket Clemens, the 400 lb gorilla.

Game Three is essential for Boston; Game Four (Hello, John Burkett) is crucial for the Yanks. Should be a thrilling weekend.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver