The Yankees are headed to the World Series for the first time since 1981.
The Bronx Bombers defeated the Orioles tonight by a score of 6-4, clinching the AL pennant in five games. They were lead by Andy Pettitte, who tossed eight innings and allowed two runs on three hits. He handed the ball over to John Wetteland, who made the ninth interesting, but closed it out to send Joe Torre to his first World Series in his 32-year baseball career.
“No question about it, this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in this sport,” Torre said. “It’s not even close.”
Two Yankees who didn’t join the team until July also played key roles in the series clincher. Darryl Strawberry and Cecil Fielder each hit home runs to back the Yankees’ offense. “This is a special group,” said Strawberry, who has hit three home runs in his last two games. “This is probably the most special group of players I’ve ever been around.”
Fielder echoed those sentiments, saying “This team worked hard and never quit. We always believed.”
The Yankees staked Pettitte to a 6-0 lead in the third inning. Jim Leyritz lead off with a solo shot, and then the Yankees put runners on first and second for Bernie Williams, who reached on an E4 which allowed a run to score. Fielder came up and smacked a three-run shot, and Strawberry followed that up with a solo round-tripper.
The Yankees had a stranglehold on the game and the series. They had gone 9-0 at Camden Yards during the regular season, and were smelling blood after the third inning outburst. “I could sense after we got the six runs that they were down,” Pettitte said. ”I looked on the field and could tell they were down. Down and out.”
The Orioles scratched across two runs off Pettitte – one in the sixth on a solo homer by Todd Zeile, and one in the eight on a solo shot by Eddie Murray. Wetteland surrendered two in the ninth when Bobby Bonilla took him deep with Roberto Alomar on first with two outs.
Cal Ripken Jr. came up and hit a ground ball into the shortstop hole which was fielded by Derek Jeter, who threw a sliding Ripken out at first. The Yankees poured out of the dugout and mobbed Wetteland on the mound.
“Wow, this is really it,” said Wetteland. “I don’t get too wrapped up in emotions on the field. This is a case where a 12-year-old boy who has dreamed about playing in the World Series came out today.”
The Yankees now await the winner of the NLCS between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. The World Series is set to begin on Oct. 20 at Yankee Stadium