for this game

Yankees keep their season alive, beat Indians

Oct 8, 2007 - 4:09 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BRONX, New York (Ticker) - Once Jake Westbrook's sinkerball stopped working, the New York Yankees were on their way to saving their season and manager's job for at least one more day.

Johnny Damon hit a three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Yankees overcame an early deficit to stave off elimination with an 8-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game Three of the American League Division Series on Sunday.

Rookie Phil Hughes (1-0) allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief after starter Roger Clemens was forced to leave with a strained left hamstring, and New York tacked on three runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach and keep the series alive.

Before the Yankees even had a chance to get settled at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon, rumors about manager Joe Torre's job security were swirling. A report in the Bergen Record in New Jersey had comments from owner George Steinbrenner that indicated Torre's 12-year tenure was going to end with a third straight loss in the division series.

"As far as the comments from Mr. Steinbrenner, I don't want to say you ever get used to it. But you work here, you understand the pressure everybody's under to win all the time. The only thing I try to do is allow my players to roll the dice out there and play, because everytime we go to the postseason, there's nothing that's going to satisfy anybody unless you win the World Series and that's very difficult."

Steinbrenner's comments came after the Yankees had batted just .121 and scored four runs combined in the first two games of the series in Cleveland. When responding to questioning about them, Torre reiterated how difficult winning 11 games in October is and his players continued their support for him.

"I understand the requirements here, but the players are human beings and it's not machinery here," Torre said. "Even though they get paid a lot of money, it's still blood that runs through their veins and my job is try to be the players they are by allowing them to understand that the best effort you can give is all you can do."

"We've battled through adversity all through the season and right now is another time," Damon said. "We all love Joe Torre and we'd love for him to win another championship. I think Joe Torre is a guy who commands a lot of respect. He's meant so much to the Yankee organization and we get to play for him at least another day, and hopefully longer."

While that may still happen, it will not take place Monday. Instead, Game Four will be here Monday and the Yankees will attempt to take the series back to Jacobs Field by pitching Chien Ming-Wang on three days rest.

For four innings it looked like Torre was managing his final game as the Yankees struggled against Westbrook's sinker. They hit into three double plays through the first three innings and faced a 3-1 deficit. Captain Derek Jeter bounced into double plays in the first and third while Jorge Posada hit into one in the second.

In the fifth, the Yankees' fortunes began to change as they put together four consecutive one-out hits. None of those hits were on the ground as Westbrook began to struggle with his command, and the Yankees cut their deficit to one when Melky Cabrera lined a single to left-center.

"We had some good at-bats that inning," Jeter said. "Westbrook was pretty good in terms of he was keeping the ball down, a lot of ground balls. I think we had three hits going into that inning and those three hits were all on the ground. That inning he left a couple of balls up and Johnny hit that big home run."

Two pitches later, the Yankees grabbed the lead when Damon hit a 2-0 pitch from Westbrook over the right field fence for a three-run homer and a 5-3 advantage.

"I was hoping the ball would leave the ballpark," Damon said. "Hitting the ball straight up in the air, I didn't quite get it the way I wanted to. But having the count in my favor, I was just hoping to put a nice level swing on it."

"Johnny is such a good pressure guy," Torre added. "He's so good. He lays and waits and I watched that very familiar swing from 2004 when he did it against us with the bases loaded."

The two-run lead would have been plenty for Hughes and fellow relievers Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera, but the Yankees scored three in the sixth when Robinson Cano singled to right center and Nixon overran the ball, allowing Alex Rodriguez, Posada and Hideki Matsui to score.

The lone black mark on an otherwise uplifting night for New York was the injury to Clemens, who had not pitched in three weeks due to the injured hamstring and elbow and blister problems.

The 45-year-old looked uncomfortable from the start and lasted just 2 1/3 innings. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three runs and four hits before Hughes came on.

Clemens gave up an RBI single to Ryan Garko in the first, and a solo home run to Nixon in the second. He departed after issuing a leadoff walk to Travis Hafner and striking out Victor Martinez.

"I (aggravated) it (the hamstring) the at-bat against Lofton in the second," Clemens said. "And then there was a ball to my left I don't know how many pitches later it locked up. It locked up from that point."

Hughes came on and allowed Hafner to advance on a wild pitch and gave up a two-out RBI double to Jhonny Peralta. But after Peralta's hit, the 21-year-old righthander retired 10 of the next 12 hitters.

"They told me beforehand just to be ready because you never know what's going to happen," Hughes said. "He hadn't pitched in a while. Obviously I was needed tonight, so I just try to stay mentally prepared for that."

"That kid Hughes, came in and he's got a live fastball, tough breaking ball, started mixing in a changeup a little bit," Indians manager Phil Hughes said. "If you talk about the difference between Roger and him and just the way they pitch, (it) threw us off a little bit. But the kid showed a lot of poise. He did a good job."

Joba Chamberlain pitched the seventh and eighth and had a five-run lead to work with. The hard-throwing phenom struck out two while allowing one run and three hits.

Rivera got his first work of the series and turned in a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation. The veteran closer entered the game with the lowest postseason ERA in history among all pitchers with at least 30 innings and struck out two to nail down the victory.

Westbrook (0-1), who started when the Indians clinched their first division title in six years two weeks ago, lasted five-plus innings and allowed six runs and nine hits.

"The frustrating thing about it was I felt great, I felt strong," Westbrook said. "They came out with a different approach and I didn't mix it up like I was supposed to and it cost us. You got to stay away from the big inning, especially against these guys in the playoffs."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLEVELAND 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 9 1
    NY YANKEES 0 0 1 0 4 3 0 0 x 8 11 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CLE - JAKE WESTBROOK, AARON FULTZ (6TH), JENSEN LEWIS (7TH), JOE
    BOROWSKI (8TH) AND VICTOR MARTINEZ
    NYY - ROGER CLEMENS, PHIL HUGHES (3RD), JOBA
    CHAMBERLAIN (7TH),

    Oct 7 10:15 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY TROT NIXON SCORED JHONNY PERALTA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, T NIXON ON SECOND, K LOFTON ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 4
    NY YANKEES 8 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: C BLAKE (.091, 0-FOR-3)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 9:50 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ROBINSON CANO SCORED ALEX RODRIGUEZ. ERROR BY
    TROT NIXON ALLOWED JORGE POSADA AND HIDEKI MATSUI TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, R CANO ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    NY YANKEES 8 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR NY YANKEES: M CABRERA (.200, 1-FOR-2, RBI)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 9:10 PM
  • Yankee82 Goooooo Yanks

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 8:42 PM
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    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 8:42 PM
  • mark let's GO!

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 8:39 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY JOHNNY DAMON (2) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 5TH OFF JAKE WESTBROOK SCORED ROBINSON CANO AND MELKY
    CABRERA.
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3, NY YANKEES 5
    DUE UP FOR NY YANKEES: D JETER (.100, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 8:38 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MELKY CABRERA SCORED HIDEKI MATSUI.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M CABRERA ON FIRST, R CANO ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    NY YANKEES 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR NY YANKEES: J DAMON (.273, 2-FOR-2, RBI)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 8:35 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JOHNNY DAMON SCORED HIDEKI MATSUI.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J DAMON ON FIRST, M CABRERA ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    NY YANKEES 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR NY YANKEES: D JETER (.111, 0-FOR-1)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 7:56 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JHONNY PERALTA SCORED TRAVIS HAFNER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J PERALTA ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    NY YANKEES 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: K LOFTON (.625, 0-FOR-1)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 7:38 PM


  • AL
    AT NY YANKEES PLAYOFFS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY TROT NIXON (1) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    2ND OFF ROGER CLEMENS.
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 2, NY YANKEES 0
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: C BLAKE (.125, 0 HR, 2 RBI)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 7:06 PM


  • AL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLEVELAND 1 1 2 0
    NY YANKEES 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: CLE - JAKE WESTBROOK
    NYY - ROGER CLEMENS

    DUE UP FOR NY YANKEES: J DAMON (.111, 1 HR, 1 RBI)
    D JETER (.125, 0 HR, 0 RBI)
    B ABREU (.333, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 6:52 PM
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    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 6:17 PM
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    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 4:54 PM
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    Indians vs. YankeesOct 7 11:42 AM