By KIRBY ARNOLD and AARON COE
SEATTLE – Look at the numbers and it seems like the performance of a past Seattle bullpen.
One hit, five walks and a hit batter in four innings.
The only number that Bryan Price really wanted to see was the one his relief pitchers delivered Sunday, a zero on the scoreboard.
Jose Paniagua, Arthur Rhodes and Kazuhiro Sasaki danced with Yankee baserunners throughout their time on the mound, but they preserved a 6-2 victory for starting pitcher Freddy Garcia in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
“You always want guys to go out there and have 1-2-3 innings,” said Price, the Mariners’ pitching coach. “But in the postseason you’re going against the best teams with the best lineups in the most pressure situations. To expect that’s going to happen all the time is unrealistic.”
Rhodes, who gave up three runs in the eighth inning and was the losing pitcher in Game 2, created trouble for himself again Sunday when he walked two of the first three hitters he faced to load the bases with one out. Rhodes then struck out Jorge Posada and Glenallen Hill, both with breaking pitches, to end the threat.
Sasaki gave up a two-out single before striking out David Justice in the eighth, and he hit Bernie Williams and walked Posada in the ninth before striking out Luis Polonia and getting Luis Sojo on a fly ball that ended the game.
“In the end, they didn’t give in,” Price said. “They didn’t give up the blow that would have gotten the Yankees back into the ballgame. From here on out, as long as it gets done, that’s all that matters.”
You’d think a team on the verge of setting an ALCS record for fewest runs would need all the practice swings it could get. But Mariners manager Lou Piniella called off batting practice before Sunday’s game.
“All the travel we’ve done has taken a toll,” left fielder Rickey Henderson said. “So Lou said to take some time off.”
It’s not as though the M’s didn’t loosen up a little with the lumber.
The batting cages behind their dugout were available for anyone who wanted to take some swings.
Sunday’s game lasted four hours, 14 minutes and set the ALCS record for the longest nine-inning game by one minute. The previous record was set by Baltimore and New York in Game 2 of the 1996 ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday’s game also matched the longest nine-inning game in postseason history, trying Game 4 of the 1993 World Series when Toronto beat Philadelphia 15-14.
John Olerud doesn’t remember the last time he stole a base. In the bottom of the seventh inning, he took off for second base in what many thought would be a futile jog for the big first baseman. Catcher Jorge Posada’s throw was high, however, and Olerud had stolen his first base since Sept. 19, 1999.
“I don’t remember the last time,” Olerud said. “Someone’ll have to look that one up. That’s one stat that I don’t keep track of, because I get one about once every other year.”
When a reporter asked Olerud for his 40-yard dash time, Olerud was unwilling to share.
“That’s kind of like asking someone how much they weigh,” Olerud said. “That’s not something I’m going to share with everybody.”
Not long after Sunday’s game had ended, Olerud was rushed to an interview room to talk with reporters.
One of them asked, “You are still wearing your helmet. Is that a reflection of how well you were swinging the bat today? Can’t wait to get in there again?”
“No,” Olerud responded. “That’s a reflection of I just have not gone back to my locker yet.”
The Mariners sent pitcher John Halama, who will start Game 6, to New York ahead of the team Sunday so he could have a good night’s sleep and a full day of rest before pitching on Tuesday. The Yankees’ Orlando Hernandez was at Sunday’s game and flew home with the team.
Mariners pitcher Paul Abbott, who left Saturday’s game before the sixth inning after his right shoulder stiffened, said he’s fine and should make his next start if the Mariners advance to the World Series.
“It’s OK,” he said. “Just a little sore.”
The Yankees’ late-night flight Sunday to New York was their sixth coast-to-coast flight in two weeks. They flew to Oakland for the first two games of the Division Series, back to New York for Games 3 and 4, and to Oakland again for Game 5. After that, they flew back to New York for the first two games against the Mariners, back to Seattle for three games and back home again.
When the Yankees lost 16 of their final 18 regular-season games, many thought the futility would continue into the playoffs. David Justice, a veteran of several postseasons with Atlanta and Cleveland who joined New York in a midseason trade, says he was never worried.
“Every team goes through a period where they lose some game,” Justice said. “For some teams, it lasts all season.”
After going 0-for-3 Sunday, Mariner catcher Dan Wilson is 0-for-25 lifetime in ALCS play, and 2-for-58 (.034) in the postseason. He did reach base on a walk in the fifth inning. … In two starts in this series, Denny Neagle has walked a total of five batters in the first inning. … Bernie Williams has hit safely in all five games of this series. … David Cone’s relief appearance for New York was just his second in 19 postseason appearances.
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