Yankees Placed On Big Unit Alert
Would you believe Randy Johnson one more time?
Lou Piniella would. Not as a starter, mind you. But the Seattle Mariners manager allowed that if his club managed to win Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Saturday, he wouldn’t have a problem with using his ace in a relief role in today’s deciding game.
The M’s, of course, forced Game 5 by beating the Yankees 11-8.
So consider this a Big Unit Alert.
“There’s a possibility,” Piniella said when asked about using Johnson, who beat the Yankees in Game 3 to keep Seattle’s postseason alive. “It would be short - an inning, a few hitters - but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Had he talked over the possibility with Johnson? “Just briefly,” he said.
Andy Benes, who will start Game 5 for Seattle against New York’s David Cone, was surprised to hear of Piniella’s comments.
“Wow,” he said. “I don’t know if Lou’s talked to Randy about that.
“I think it would be asking an awful lot of him to come back. It’s his arm. If he feels he could get a few hitters out, I’m sure with the kind of competitor Randy is he’d go out in. I would hope that we wouldn’t have to do that.”
They don’t call it ‘designated batter’
Nothing Edgar Martinez does with a bat seems to surprise Ken Griffey Jr., who was on base both times Seattle’s designated hitter took Yankees pitching deep Saturday night.
“That’s his job,” said Griffey. “He works on his swing. He doesn’t even bring a glove on trips. A dozen bats, that’s all he brings. No, he brings his glove, but he sure doesn’t use it.”
Martinez set a major-league record for most RBIs in a postseason game with seven.
Moose be an omen
The Mariners have had to overcome their share of injuries this season - notably Junior’s broken wrist back in May. Now not even their mascot is immune.
The Mariner Moose suffered a broken right ankle during one of his routines Saturday night. Roller “skiing” behind a four-wheel ORV, the Moose slammed into the outfield fence.
“It was ugly,” reported right fielder Jay Buhner. “The bone was sticking through the skin.”
No word on whether the M’s have a backup Moose.
Yankees manager Buck Showalter spent more time on the field Saturday than some of his position players, what with all his trips to the mound and all his discussions with umpires.
His most animated disagreement came in the eighth inning, when Seattle’s Joey Cora dropped a bunt down the first-base line and eluded the Yankees’ Don Mattingly by running wide of the basepath. Called safe, it kept alive a rally capped by Martinez’ game-winning grand slam home run.
“He was definitely out of the basepath,” said Showalter. “But the first-base umpire, Jim Evans, said Mattingly never made an attempt to tag him and if he had attempted a tag he would have called him out.
“I don’t know how you define ‘make an attempt’ - you can’t make an attempt if you can’t reach him.”
An eye for an eye?
Piniella, meanwhile, had a heated exchange with the umpires between the first and second innings - after Yankees starter Scott Kamieniecki had flipped Cora with a pitch high and inside.
Plate umpire Rocky Roe then warned Mariners starter Chris Bosio about retaliating - and Piniella got hot.
Perhaps the umpires saw the same thing the television camera showed: Piniella walking down to Bosio after Cora hit the dirt and pointing - first at the Yankees in the field, and then at the ground. The orders seemed pretty clear.
With his 10 strikeouts in Game 3, Johnson became the first pitcher to reach that figure against the Yankees in a postseason game since Bob Gibson of the Cardinals in the 1964 World Series.
More Johnson: After pushing the radar gun up to 102 mph on several occasions during Monday’s playoff win over California, Johnson’s fastball topped out at 98 on Friday. But on each of his 10 strikeouts, the third strike came on some sort of off-speed pitch.
Banner update: New bedsheets inside the Kingdome on Saturday included, “Beavis and Steinbrenner,” and “Leyritz Game 4: 0-0, HBP 4.”