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Having rallied from a 2-0 deficit in their first round playoff matchup with the Oakland

2001 American League Championship Series
2001ALCS.jpg
Team (Wins) Manager Season
New York Yankees (4) Joe Torre 95–65, .594, GA: 13½
Seattle Mariners (1) Lou Piniella 116–46, .716, GA: 14
Dates: October 17–October 22
MVP: Andy Pettitte (New York)
Television: Fox
TV announcers: Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons (Games 1–2)
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (Games 3–5)
Radio: ESPN
Radio announcers: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan
Umpires: Ed Montague, Wally Bell, Gary Cederstrom, Charlie Reliford, John Shulock, Tim Welke
ALDS: Seattle Mariners over Cleveland Indians (3–2)
 ALDS: New York Yankees over Oakland Athletics (3–2)
 < 2000 ALCS 2002 > 
2001 World Series

Athletics, the New York Yankees advanced to the American League Championship Series, where they faced the Seattle Mariners for the second consecutive year.  After establishing a new major league record by winning 116 games during the regular season, the Mariners had a surprisingly difficult time getting past the Cleveland Indians in the other ALDS matchup, edging out the Indians in five hard-fought games, despite being outscored in the series by a combined margin of 26 to 16.  Nevertheless, Seattle remained a heavy favorite to dethrone the three-time defending world champion Yankees heading into their ALCS matchup.

Although they lacked the star power of the Seattle teams of the late-1990s that featured Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Edgar Martinez, the Mariners clearly established themselves as the American League’s dominant team over the course of the campaign.  Seattle led the junior circuit with 927 runs scored, 174 stolen bases, a .288 team batting average, a .360 team on-base percentage, and a 3.54 team ERA.  For the basis of comparison, New York scored 804 runs, stole 161 bases, batted .267 as a team, posted a .334 team on-base percentage, and compiled a team ERA of 4.02.  The Yankees held their only statistical edge over the Mariners in home runs (203 to 169).

The Yankees had a deep starting lineup that included Tino Martinez, Alfonso Soriano, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, and Derek Jeter.  But Seattle’s batting order similarly had a considerable amount of depth.  Gold Glove centerfielder Mike Cameron hit 25 homers, drove in 110 runs, and scored 99 others.  John Olerud hit 21 home runs, knocked in 95 runs, batted .302, and compiled a .401 on-base percentage.  Edgar Martinez served as the one remaining link to the Mariner teams of the 1990s.  The league’s top designated hitter hit 23 homers, drove in 116 runs, batted .306, and posted a .423 on-base percentage.  Second baseman Bret Boone had the finest season of his career, leading the league with 141 runs batted in and placing among the leaders with 37 home runs, 118 runs scored, 206 hits, and a .331 batting average, en route to earning a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting.  Winning both league MVP and Rookie of the Year honors was Ichiro Suzuki, who joined the Mariners after previously making a name for himself as the greatest star in Japanese baseball.  Ichiro finished among the A.L. leaders with 127 runs scored, and he topped the circuit with a .350 batting average, 242 hits, and 56 stolen bases.

Seattle also matched up well against New York on the mound.  The Yankees had three solid starters in Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and A.L. Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who finished 20-3, for a league-leading .870 winning percentage.  However, Seattle’s starting rotation included four pitchers who won at least 15 games.  Jamie Moyer led the staff with 20 victories and placed among the league leaders with a 3.43 ERA.  Freddy Garcia finished 18-6 with a league-leading 3.05 ERA.  Paul Abbott won 17 of his 21 decisions, to place second in the league to Clemens with a winning percentage of .810.  Aaron Sele finished 15-5 with a 3.60 ERA.  And, while the Yankees had the incomparable Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, the Mariners had Kazuhiro Sasaki as their closer.  Rivera topped the junior circuit with 50 saves, but Sasaki finished second in the league with 45 of his own.  All things considered, Seattle appeared to be well-equipped to end New York’s three-year reign as both American League champions and world champions.

Since Major League Baseball suspended all its games for a period of time following the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center on September 11th, the 2001 ALCS didn’t begin until October 17th.  Game One in Seattle pitted Andy Pettitte against Aaron Sele.  The Seattle right-hander didn’t pitch badly, allowing New York three runs on seven hits over six innings.  The Yankees scored the game’s first run on an RBI single by Chuck Knoblauch in the second inning.  They increased their lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth on a two-run homer by Paul O’Neill.  Those proved to be all the runs Pettite needed, as the Yankee left-hander held the Mariners to only one run on three hits over eight innings.  Both teams scored once in their last at-bat, making the final score 4-2, Yankees.    

New York jumped out to another 3-0 lead in Game Two, scoring three times in the second inning against Freddy Garcia on RBI hits by Scott Brosius and Chuck Knoblauch.  The Mariners cut the lead to one run in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run homer by Stan Javier off Mike Mussina.  Neither team scored again, though, with New York’s bullpen preserving the 3-2 victory by working three full innings of scoreless relief.  The win gave the Yankees a 2-0 series lead, with the next three games scheduled to be played in New York.  Seattle’s manager Lou Piniella, a former Yankee player and manager, subsequently guaranteed that the Mariners would win at least two of the next three games to return the series to Seattle.  However, he turned out to be wrong, since the two teams never made the return trip to the great northwest.

Still, the Mariners gave their fans a glimmer of hope in Game Three, scoring seven times in the top of the sixth inning, en route to posting a convincing 14-3 victory.  After the Yankees took an early 2-0 lead on a two-run homer by Bernie Williams off Jamie Moyer in the bottom of the first inning, Bret Boone tied the score with a two-run single against Yankee starter Orlando Hernandez in the top of the fifth.  Seattle then exploded for seven runs in the ensuing frame, with John Olerud and Bret Boone both delivering home runs.  Moyer got the win for Seattle, while Hernandez took the loss for New York.

The combination of Roger Clemens, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mariano Rivera silenced Seattle’s bats in Game Four, limiting the Mariners to only one run on two hits.  Yet, the score remained tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.  The Mariners scored their only run on a Bret Boone homer in the top of the eighth.  Meanwhile, Bernie Williams countered with a game-tying blast in the bottom of the inning.  Alfonso Soriano ended the affair with a two-run, game-winning homer off Kazuhiro Sasaki in the bottom of the ninth inning.  The 3-1 victory gave the Yankees a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the series.

Desperately wanting to avoid a return trip to Seattle, the Yankees scored early and often against Mariner starter Aaron Sele in Game Five, crossing the plate five times against him in the first four innings, en route to handing Seattle a 12-3 defeat.  Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, and Paul O’Neill all homered for New York, while Andy Pettitte earned ALCS MVP honors by posting his second victory of the series.  The five-game series victory for the Yankees sent them to the World Series for the fourth consecutive year. 

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