Down by a run in the eighth inning, New York was six outs away from going down 2-1 in the ALCS. Like most of their rallies this season, this one began with Derek Jeter.
Jeter lined a double to right field, and came around to tie the game at two on Bernie Williams‘ single to left. Tino Martinez went the other way for a double of his own, and Williams stopped at third. O’s third baseman Todd Zeile pump faked a throw to second, and lost the handle on the ball. Williams sprinted home ahead of the throw from Ripken and the Yankees had the lead.
Cecil Fielder came up and clubbed a two run shot deep to left, giving the Yankees a 5-2 lead and some insurance runs. Starter Jimmy Key, who tossed eight innings of two run ball, handed the game over to closer John Wetteland for a scoreless ninth. The Yankees are now two wins away from the World Series.
The heads up play by Williams was the biggest play of the night. “It was a reaction play,” Williams explained. “Something in my head told me to go. It was an aggressive play in an intense game. It was appropriate for that situation.”
Not all the Yankees were paying attention after Williams slid into third. “I heard, ‘Go, go go,’ ” Jeter said. “I said, ‘Go?’ I said, ‘Bernie, what are you doing, man?’ ”
The play was just a reminder of what the Yankees have been about this year. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile. It doesn’t matter if they’re down or ahead, first inning or eighth inning, they’re going to find a way. “Whatever it takes to win, we take it,” Mariano Duncan said. “No matter how we win, we’ll take it.”
Key allowed two runs in the first inning on a Zeile home run, but that’s all he surrendered. The Yankees got on the board in the fourth when Fielder grounded out, allowing Williams to score. Messina, the Orioles’ ace, kept the Yankees quiet until that decisive eighth inning.
The Yankees now have five comeback victories in their last six postseason games – each game seemingly going down to the wire. “This is a remarkable thing we have going,” Torre said. “We played a ton of one- and two-run ball games, and I think we got used to it. Close games don’t bother us.”
Torre is now just two wins away from his first career World Series as the Yankees look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead tomorrow night. Kenny Rogers starts against Rocky Coppinger.