All About Brad!
Registered: Jun 2003
Local time: 05:17 AM
Location: Freezing in Colorado
By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI - The New York Yankees are in pretty bad shape, on the field and in the trainer's room.
Jason Giambi is struggling with a sore knee. Alfonso Soriano is stuck in a record-setting slump. And David Wells' creaky back gave out at the worst time.
One loss from a World Series (news - web sites) flop, the Yankees need to find some fortitude fast.
"If you're going to win championships, you're going to do it as a team," captain Derek Jeter said. "We need all 25 guys in here to get it done. When someone goes down, somebody else has to step in and do the job."
They came up short in Game 5 on Thursday night, when back spasms forced Wells out after only one inning and the Florida Marlins (news) held on for a 6-4 victory that left the hobbled Yankees in a huge hole.
Though they're heading home for Game 6 on Saturday night, with the Marlins leading 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Yankees will have to muster up some magic to pull this one out.
"We feel very confident that we have (Game 6 starter) Andy Pettitte in a situation that he's been in many times, where we need a win, and he's on the mound Saturday," manager Joe Torre said.
New York has not been eliminated from the postseason at home since losing Game 6 of the 1981 World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers (news).
That was long before Jeter, Torre and Mariano Rivera arrived. But everything seems to be going wrong right now for baseball's most storied team.
"It's not an ideal situation, but at the same time you feel like you can win ballgames," third baseman Aaron Boone said. "Every guy in this room feels that way. But the injuries are there, and they've certainly made it more challenging."
New York did make a last-gasp effort Thursday.
Giambi homered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, and the Yankees cut it to 6-4 on Enrique Wilson's RBI double. That brought the tying run to the plate, but Bernie Williams flied out to the warning track in right-center and Hideki Matsui grounded out against closer Ugueth Urbina to end it.
"These last two nights, things haven't gone our way. But we're looking forward to going back home, and we feel good about our chances," catcher Jorge Posada said.
Soriano and Giambi, with an injured left knee, were benched before the game started. And then Wells quickly added to the team's woes.
"This very well may have been my last World Series start. I wanted to go out and have a good outing, but I just wasn't very comfortable," Wells said. "It really tightened up when I threw the curveball. It was a little tight yesterday, but I was confident that I could work through it."
Even when the Yankees made a nice play, they managed to mess it up.
Boone, who has struggled in the field all month, made a great stop of Jeff Conine's hard smash in the fifth inning. He had Ivan Rodriguez trapped in a rundown and threw to second baseman Wilson, playing in place of Soriano.
Wilson began to chase Rodriguez toward third, then threw the ball to nobody in particular for an error that allowed two runners to advance. Both scored on a single by Mike Lowell, making it 6-1.
It was an embarrassing play that left Yankees owner George Steinbrenner shaking his head in a luxury box.
"I saw Rodriguez break and I instinctively threw the ball," Wilson said. "You expect someone to be there, but nobody was there."
Torre said he did a lot of thinking before sitting Soriano, a two-time All-Star starter who has struck out a record 26 times in 68 postseason at-bats.
"I watched the game and tried not to let it bother me," Soriano said. "You have to go back to the drawing board and hope to have the opportunity in Game 6."
Torre said afterward he wasn't sure yet whether Soriano would play Saturday.
"Slumps will come and go, and unfortunately we've got a lot of them coming at the same time," general manager Brian Cashman said.
During batting practice, Torre didn't like the way Giambi was hobbling around on his knee. So the manager replaced him with Nick Johnson.
"My left knee, which has been a problem, became sore from playing for two days and I just do not want to be a defensive liability around first base," Giambi said before the game.
He will be the designated hitter in Game 6, Torre said.
When the 40-year-old Wells walked off, it was the shortest outing by a starting pitcher in the World Series since San Diego's Mark Thurmond got only one out against the Detroit Tigers (news) in Game 5 in 1984. It might have been Wells' last major league appearance as well, because the Yankees hold an option on his contract for next season.