David Wells and the Yankees made sure payback was swift and
A five-run first inning blew
Wells then shut out Indians until the ninth, and New York began its revenge for last year's playoff loss with a 7-2 victory Tuesday night in the opener of the American League championship series.
"I was geared tonight. I really wanted this," Wells said. "You win the first game, it can set a tone."
Posada added a sixth-inning homer
| Jorge Posadaright, adds to the Indians troubles with a sixth-inning home run off Chad Ogea. (AP) |
"It takes a lot of pressure off you when you win the first game," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"The message to the fans was unbelievable," Wells said. "They deserve that because they're such dedicated fans. They hold grudges more than we hold grudges."
New York, which had 11 hits, also set a team record with 21 consecutive shutout innings in the postseason, surpassing its 20 scoreless innings against the New York Giants in the 1921 World Series. The Yankees, who swept Texas in the first round, have outscored opponents 16-3 so far in the playoffs.
"Most teams have one No. 1 starter," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "The Yankees are a little more blessed than others."
A year ago, the Yankees also won the first game against Cleveland. But it was hardly dominating, with New York overcoming a 5-0 deficit to win 8-6. This time, the cheers started when Charisse Strawberry, the wife of stricken outfielder Darryl Strawberry, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and they didn't stop.
The Yankees, still angered that Wright hit Luis Sojo with a pitch during spring training, fracturing a bone in the infielder's left hand, made sure right away that the Indians lost the opener of a postseason series for the eighth consecutive time.
"To see Jaret go out in the first inning was ... gratifying," Wells said. "When you get five runs, with the way we've been pitching, is plenty."
Wells, who had 23 consecutive shutout innings in the postseason before Manny Ramirez homered in the ninth, may be funky off the field, but on the mound he's strictly business. He struck out seven and walked one, leaving Ramirez's one-out homer, just the fifth hit for Cleveland. He retired 11 in a ow at one stretch and 15 of 16.
"He's the one you want to have pitch with a lead because he's going to throw strikes," Torre said.
His five-hitter last year gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the series, and New York was four outs away from beating the Indians in Game 4 before Sandy Alomar's tying eighth-inning homer off Mariano Rivera. Cleveland went on win the series and came within two outs of beating Florida in the World Series.
New York, which hasn't trailed in any postseason game this year, pounced on Wright with four straight singles leading off the first.
"That was the one that sort of got us over the hump," Torre said.
Wright, chased by two three-run homers in the first-round opener against Boston last week, then gave up another RBI single, this time to Williams.
All were hit hard. Just four batters in and Ogea already was warming up in the bullpen. Whatever magic Wright possessed over New York last fall was gone.
"Everything was up in the strike zone and the middle of the plate," Hargrove said.
"I just didn't get it done," Wright said.
The hot rookie walked and Posada finished off Wright with another RBI single. Of Wright's 36 pitches, just 18 were strikes.
"That's a letdown for the other team," Torre said. "When you knock a starter out in the first inning yeah, that's a big thing for us."
Ogea gave up an RBI single to Brosius, then held the Yankees until Posada homered leading off the sixth. O'Neill and Williams chased Ogea with consecutive doubles opening the seventh.
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