Yankees Pound A’s will Meet Mariners in ALCS Subway Series with Mets Still A Possibility

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 25, 2008

NEW YORK, NY — With their backs against the wall and facing elimination, the New York Yankees came up big, as a 6-run first inning onslaught crushed the Oakland Athletics’ chances of pulling off a huge upset. The Yankees, behind a solid offensive attack early in the game, beat the A’s 7-5 in the fifth and won a decisive game of their wild card series in Oakland.

Having defeated the A’s 3-2, the Yankees will return home to New York on Monday to prepare for Tuesday’s American League Championship series match against the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners, who swept the Chicago White Sox 3-0 in a huge upset, were 6-4 against the Yankees this season.

The Yankees were simply too smart, too fast, and too intelligent for a younger and inexperienced A’s lineup. In the first inning, the Yankees took advantage of a shaky Gill Heredia, who lasted just one-third of an inning allowing four runs on four hits, and walking two batters.

A lead off single to right field by Chuck Knoblauch, followed by a walk on four pitches to Derek Jeter, and an infield chopper from Paul O’Neil quickly loaded the bases without any outs for Bernie Williams. Williams’ RBI sacrifice pop-up to right field brought home Knoblauch to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. The Yankees blew the game open when a 3-run, RBI triple with the bases loaded by Tino Martinez extended their lead to 4-0.

After the Yanks extended their lead to 5-0 on an RBI sacrifice fly by Luis Sojo, Knoblauch, making his second batting appearance in the inning, drove home a run on another RBI single to right field, extending the Yanks lead to 6-0.

The A’s threatened in the bottom half of the second inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, former Yankee, Randy Velarde, on a full count of three balls and two strikes, drilled a two-run, RBI single past third base to cut the Yankees lead to 6-2. In the bottom of the third, a sharp base hit to left field with one out by Eric Chavez, brought home Tejeda all the way from first base, cutting the Yankees lead to just three runs. However, a solo Homerun by David Justice in the top of the fourth stopped the A’s rally and assured the Yankees of victory.

Yankee ace Andy Pettitte, who went 19-9 for big blue during the regular season, allowed five runs and 10 hits in just three and two-thirds innings pitched. Mike Stanton, in two scoreless innings of work, held the A’s to only one hit, struck out three, and was credited with the victory. Mariano Rivera, who retired the last five A’s hitters, broke Dennis Eckersley’s record for the most career post season saves by earning his 16th.

In other Major League Baseball Playoff news: The New York Mets, behind a brilliant one-hit shutout by Bobby Jones, blanked the San Francisco Giants 4-0 in New York. The Mets, after having earned a 3-1 series win to advance to the National League Championship series, will meet the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night in St. Louis.

The Mets were 6-3 against the Cardinals, who swept the Atlanta Braves 3-0 in another stunning upset.