Hideki Matsui said his 2003 ALCS double off Pedro Martinez never crossed his mind when he hit his go-ahead home run tonight at Yankee Stadium. At the time, he was down in the count, 1-2, and needed to do something to simply keep the inning alive. He got a curveball and he hammered it.
“Because I was at two strikes, I was just ready for pretty much anything and just trying to make adjustments,” Matsui said. “Particularly for that pitch, I tihnk the location was fine. It was low. But I think it caught part of the plate.”
Matsui and Mark Teixeira came up with the big home runs that finally sparked something in this Yankees offense that was never there against Cliff Lee in Game 1. All indications were that this would be an offensive World Series, but after two games, it’s been all about pitching. Taking advantage of mistakes — whether by Chase Utley in Game 1, or Teixeira and Matsui in Game 2 — has been the key.
Tonight, A.J. Burnett didn’t make many mistakes. He had a hard, tight curveball tonight that he was able to throw for strikes. His stuff was pretty electric in Game 1 of the Division Series as well, but that came with five walks and two hit batters. There were no such problems tonight, and Burnett served as his own bridge to Mariano Rivera. In a game that felt a lot like a must-win, the Yankees did what they had to do.
“You know, I actually sat and watched (Cliff Lee’s) interview when he was on the field (after Game 1),” Burnett said. “He talked about confidence and he talked about belief in his stuff, and all I told myself last night and today was the same thing. I went out tonight with confidence and I just, you know, the game just rolled by.”
It’s a lot easier to have confidence with the series tied at 1 game apiece. The alternative… well… there’s no reason to think about the alternative now. And that’s a good thing.
By the way, here’s the audio from Derek Jeter in the postgame clubhouse. The Captain was – not surprisingly – pretty upbeat about a big win for the Yankees.