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ALCS: On this day, Garcia's best swing is at bat

TOM JONES
Published October 15, 2003

BOSTON - There is some question as to whether Yankees rightfielder Karim Garcia beat up a Fenway Park groundskeeper on Saturday. There is no question, though, that he helped the Yankees beat up the Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Garcia produced the big hit of the game when he singled with the bases loaded in the second inning to knock in two and help stake the Yankees to a 3-0 lead.

The funny thing is, Garcia originally wasn't in the starting lineup. His hand remains swollen from the fight in the Yankees bullpen in Game 3, something Garcia would rather forget.

"I'm not looking for publicity whatsoever," Garcia said. "All I'm trying to do is just to help my team over here and win."

After Garcia proved to manager Joe Torre that his hand was fine in batting practice, Torre made the switch from David Dellucci.

"His eyes lit up when I said, "You're playing tonight,' " Torre said. "He thanked me."

Garcia, who was taunted by the fans all game, was 1-for-10 lifetime against Boston starter Derek Lowe, but he hit a clean single to center to get the Yankees off and running.

NOMAR IS NOWHERE: Anyone seen Boston star Nomar Garciaparra? The five-time All-Star hit .301 with 28 homers and 105 RBIs during the regular season, but he has been invisible in the postseason. He drove in his first run in 10 games Tuesday, but it was a groundout with a runner on third and the infield back, and it wasn't what the Red Sox needed at the time because they were trailing by three. In the ALCS, he is batting .105 (2-for-19).

"I'm fine. I'm fine. Don't make any excuses," Garciaparra said. "I'm part of a great team. They try to pick me up, I try to pick them up."

TUNING IN: Monday's Game 4 of the ALCS got an 11.6 television rating and 18 share, better than ABC's Monday Night Football, which had an 8.4 share. That was the lowest in the 34 years of Monday Night Football.

HE'S HUMAN, BARELY: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera gave up his first run in 20 appearances (231/3 innings) but nailed down his 29th postseason save.

"He's the best there ever is, was and will be, 'til proven otherwise," winning pitcher David Wells said.

MOOSE OR MOUSE? While the Yankees roll along, pitcher Mike Mussina has taken to whining. After his loss in Game 4, Mussina appeared to blame his teammates, saying, "I can only control 60 feet, 6 inches. That's it. I'm doing the job the best I can. The other stuff has to be attended to by other people, not me."

Mussina has pitched well in the playoffs and has run into hard luck, but the bottom line? The Yankees are 0-3 this postseason when he starts, 6-0 when he doesn't.

MISCELLANY: Manny Ramirez's homer was his 16th in postseason play, moving him past Babe Ruth into fifth place on the postseason list. ... Glimmer of hope for Red Sox fans: Today's starter, John Burkett, is 1-0 in the playoffs against the Yankees. He pitched a complete game in a 6-2 victory for Texas at Yankee Stadium in 1996.

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