MVP Justice’s Homer Carries Yankees Into World ‘Subway’ Series

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 25, 2008

David JusticeNEW YORK, NY— The New York Yankees, behind American League Series Most Valuable Player avid Justice’s three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, rallied to beat the Seattle Mariners, 9-7, in the sixth and most dramatic game of the American League Championships to force a World “Subway” Series against the New York Mets.

Folks, the Yankees showed great poise and passion behind an awesome hitting staff that sent 10 batters to the plate in that dramatic seventh inning.

The Yankees, behind starting pitcher Orlando Hernandez, overcame a four-run deficit to win the game on Justice’s three-run shot to deep right field that put the Yankess ahead, 6-4. The count was three balls and one strike. A high fastball delivered by Arthur Rhodes lead to a six-run explosion, shocking Seattle’s manager Lou Pinella and the “heat and soul” of the Mariners ball club, Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez.

After Justice’s game-winning homer, the Yankees added some insurance runs by loading the bases three times, setting up a 2-RBI single to right by Paul O’Neil and an RBI sacrifice to left from Jose Vizciano. But the Yankees lead of 9-4 wasn’t the final score.

Earlier, the Mariners struck first. Back-to-back, RBI-line drive doubles by Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez off of starting pitcher Orlando Hernandez put the Mariners ahead 2-0 lead in the top of the first. In the top of the fourth, Carlos Guillen doubled the Mariners lead with a two-run homerun to the right field bleachers off Hernandez. The Mariners lead 4-0.

In the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded, Jorge Posada’s 2-RBI double to right-centerfield, followed by an RBI single by Paul O,Neil, cut theYankees deficit to just one run. The Mariners lead 4-3. The Mariners did attempt to comeback in the top of the eighth when Alex Rodriguez’ solo-homer to centerfield off Hernandez pulled the Mariners to within three runs at 9-5.

After seven innings of work, Hernandez, who allowed six runs on seven hits, walked five, struck out seven, and was homered off of twice, sat out and Marino Rivera, the Yankees premier closer, came in but found himself in grave difficulty. Guillen, who homered earlier in the fourth, hit a single off the first base bag that drove home two runs.What was such a huge Yankees lead was cut to 9-7.

The Yanks have had their difficulties with their pitching staff this season. David Cone lost 13 games; Andy Pettite, despite being a single win shy of 20 wins, had a high E.R.A. of over 4.00; Roger Clemens won just 13 games; and Hernandez himself was a below .500 pitcher at 12-13.

Yet, during the post season, whenever their backs were against the walls, the Yankees came out fighting.

What makes the Yankees-Mets, World “Subway” Series so spectacular is that they are not only hometown, cross city rivals between the Bronx and Queens, but also that the Mets have a hitting squad just as deep and a pitching staff even more consistent and reliable than the Yankees.

There is still bad blood between both clubs, as a result of the “bean-ball” incident between Clemens and Met-catcher Mike Piazza. Clemens, just this past summer, hit Piazza on the side of his head with a fastball that knocked Piazza, an MVP candidate, out cold for at least several minutes. Clemens never apologized, leading Piazza to believe that the hit from Clemens was intentional. Maybe. Then again, only Clemens knows deep down in his heart.

Expect a wonderful New York World “Subway” Series. Go, New York, go!