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Having survived a scare in the first round of the playoffs by edging out the Oakland Athletics in five hard-fought games, the New York Yankees advanced to the 2000 American League Championship Series to face the Seattle Mariners.  While New York experienced a great deal of difficulty getting past Oakland, the wild-card Mariners had no such problems eliminating the Chicago White Sox in the American League’s other Divisional Series.  Seattle swept the White Sox in three straight games, outscoring them by a combined margin of 14-7.

On paper, New York and Seattle appeared to be very evenly matched.  The Mariners, who finished the year just ½ game behind first-place Oakland in the A.L. West, compiled a record of 91-71 during the regular season.  Meanwhile, the Yankees won the A.L. East with a mark of only 87-74.  The Mariners outscored the Yankees (907 to 871), stole more bases (122 to 99), compiled a slightly higher on-base percentage (.361 to .354), and posted a lower team ERA (4.49 to 4.76).  However, the Yankees hit a few more home runs (205 to 198), compiled a higher team batting average (.277 to .269), and posted a higher slugging percentage (.450 to .442).

Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens were New York’s most effective starters over the course of the regular season, with Pettitte winning 19 games and Clemens adding another 13 victories.  Seattle’s top two starters were Aaron Sele and John Halama.  Sele led the team with 17 wins, while Halama posted 14 victories.  The Yankees had Mariano Rivera as their closer.  Rivera finished the year with seven wins, 36 saves, and a 2.85 ERA.  Kazuhiro Sasaki anchored Seattle’s bullpen, saving 37 games and compiling a 3.16 ERA.    

Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and Derek Jeter were New York’s top three offensive threats.  Posada hit 28 home runs, knocked in 86 runs, scored 92 others, batted .287, and compiled a .417 on-base percentage.  Williams led the club with 30 home runs and 121 runs batted in, and he also placed second on the team with 108 runs scored and a .307 batting average.  Jeter finished among the league leaders with 119 runs scored, 201 hits, and a .339 batting average.  The Mariners presented an even more formidable trio in the middle of their batting order in John Olerud, Alex Rodriguez, and Edgar Martinez.  Olerud drove in 103 runs, scored 84 others, batted .285, and compiled a .392 on-base percentage.  Rodriguez batted .316 and placed among the league leaders with 41 homers, 132 runs batted in, and 134 runs scored, en route to earning a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting.  Martinez placed sixth in the balloting by hitting 37 home runs, driving in a league-leading 145 runs, scoring 100 others, batting .324, and compiling a .423 on-base percentage.  

Even though the Mariners posted a better record during the regular season, the Yankees had home-field advantage in the ALCS since Seattle entered the playoffs as a wild card.  Game One in New York was a low-scoring affair in which the two teams combined for only two runs and 11 hits.  The Mariners scored the game’s first run in the fifth inning when Mark McLemore hit a two-out ground rule double off Yankee starter Denny Neagle.  Rickey Henderson then drove in McLemore with an RBI single.  Alex Rodriguez homered off Neagle in the top of the sixth, giving the Mariners the game’s only other run.  Meanwhile, Freddy Garcia worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings for Seattle, before turning the ball over to the Mariner bullpen, which shut out the Yankees the rest of the way.

The Yankees continued to struggle at the plate in Game Two, failing to score a run through the first seven innings against Seattle starter John Halama and reliever Jose Paniagua.  Orlando Hernandez also stymied Seattle’s lineup, allowing just one run on six hits over eight very strong innings.  However, the Yankee offense finally exploded in the bottom of the eighth inning against Arthur Rhodes and Jose Mesa, scoring seven runs on eight hits, en route to tying the Series with a 7-1 victory.  Derek Jeter capped New York’s scoring with a two-run homer.

New York’s lineup continued its onslaught against Mariner pitching after the Series shifted to Seattle for Game Three.  Trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the second inning, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead on back-to-back home runs by Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez off Aaron Sele.  The teams exchanged single tallies before New York opened a two-run lead in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Paul O’Neill.  The contest remained close until the ninth inning, when the Yankees scored four times against Brett Tomko to take an 8-2 lead.  The big hits in the inning were RBI singles by Chuck Knoblauch and David Justice.  Mariano Rivera retired the final five Mariner batters in order, to preserve the victory for Andy Pettitte, who allowed Seattle two runs on nine hits in his 6 2/3 innings on the mound.

Game Four featured a magnificent pitching performance by Roger Clemens, who struck out an ALCS-record 15 batters, en route to registering a 5-0, one-hit shutout of the Mariners.  Al Martin recorded Seattle’s only hit off Clemens in the seventh inning when he lined a leadoff double off first baseman Tino Martinez’s glove.  Clemens got all the offensive support he needed from Derek Jeter and David Justice.  Jeter hit a three-run home run off Mariner starter Paul Abbott in the fifth, and Justice connected for a two-run shot off Jose Mesa in the eighth.  The 5-0 victory put the Yankees just one win away from their third consecutive trip to the World Series.   

The Mariners refused to go quietly, though, scoring five times in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game Five, en route to pulling within one game of New York with a 6-2 victory.  Home runs by John Olerud and Edgar Martinez off reliever Jeff Nelson keyed the five-run rally.  Freddy Garcia got the win for Seattle, while Denny Neagle took the loss for New York.

The two teams returned to New York for Game Six, and the contest remained very much in doubt until the bottom of the seventh inning.  Consecutive RBI doubles by Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez in the first inning, along with a two-run homer by Carlos Guillen in the fourth, helped stake Mariner starter John Halama to an early 4-0 lead over New York’s Orlando Hernandez.  The Yankees, though, knocked Halama out of the box in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three times on a Jorge Posada double and a Paul O’Neill single.  The score remained 4-3 until the bottom of the seventh, when the Yankees broke the game wide open by scoring six times against the Mariner bullpen.  A three-run homer by David Justice and a two-run single by Paul O’Neill were the key hits of the Yankee rally.  The Mariners scored three times in the eighth inning to make the game a bit closer, but Mariano Rivera came in to get the final six outs of a 9-7 Yankee victory.  Orlando Hernandez persevered through seven innings, getting the win despite allowing the Mariners six runs on seven hits.  By defeating Seattle in six games, New York advanced to the World Series for the third straight year.

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
2000 ALCS, Aaron Sele, Al Martin, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Arthur Rhodes, Bernie Williams (New York Yankees), Brett Tomko, Carlos Guillen, Chuck Knoblauch, David Cone, David Justice, Denny Neagle, Derek Jeter, Edgar Martinez, Freddy Garcia, Jeff Nelson, John Halama, John Olerud, Jorge Posada, Jose Mesa, Jose Paniagua, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Mariano Rivera, Mark McLemore, New York Yankees, Orlando Hernandez, Paul Abbott, Rickey Henderson, Roger Clemens, Scott Brosius, Seattle Mariners, Tino Martinez

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