By KIRBY ARNOLD
SEATTLE — Nobody needs to remind Aaron Sele how good the Yankees were the past two years. He’s got their footprints on his backside after jumping in the way of two straight championships.
Sele faced the Yankees in the past two postseasons while pitching for the Texas Rangers, and twice they beat him.
"The Yankees were frustrating everybody the past two years," Sele said. "They pretty much cakewalked through to two titles there. They did whatever they wanted to do, to whoever they were playing at the time."
Today will be the third time, when Sele starts for the Seattle Mariners in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Safeco Field.
Maybe a change in the setting can make a difference.
The right-hander is a Mariner now, having signed with them last winter, and is a big reason the M’s have gone this far into the postseason. He went 17-10 in the regular season with a 4.51 earned run average, including a 4-0 record in September.
Those numbers aren’t much different than the last two years with Texas, where Sele was 19-11, 4.23 in 1998 and 18-9, 4.79 in 1999.
All it brought him at the end of those seasons was playoff frustration.
Sele lost 4-0 in 1998 in the third and deciding game of the Division Series when two swings, Paul O’Neill’s solo home run and Shane Spencer’s three-run homer, accounted for all the scoring. Sele started the first game of the Division Series last year and was hammered, allowing four runs on six hits in five innings of an 8-0 loss to the Yankees.
"I’ve been facing these guys for eight years now," Sele said. "They know what I throw and how I throw it, and I know most of their hitters, too.
"I don’t think there’s anybody in particular, other than Chuck Finley, who performs well against them. They have quality hitters from top to bottom."
The key today, Sele says, is to adjust his pattern from what he has shown the Yankees before. He’s 4-8 in his career against New York, 0-1 this season in two starts.
"You’re always making adjustments whether it is during the season or in the postseason," Sele said. "You have to see how the guys have reacted to your pitches before. You just mix it all together and come up with a game plan."
Yankees manager Joe Torre takes little comfort in his team’s past conquests of Sele. Torre, as manager of the American League All-Star team, selected Sele to pitch on the AL squad this year.
"I don’t think … because he has not won a postseason game that he is going to go out there any different than the reason I picked him as an All-Star pitcher," Torre said. "He has good sufficient stuff. It’s a matter of being able to spot his stuff the way he needs to do like most pitchers."