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ALDS: Johnson's mission: win his Yankees postseason debut

By wire services
Published October 7, 2005


NEW YORK - Randy Johnson knows his mission: Win and nothing else.

The Yankees imported the Big Unit last winter to be their ace, snuff out opponents and get New York its first World Series title since 2000.

With the best-of-five AL playoff series against the Los Angeles Angels tied at one game apiece, the 42-year-old left-hander sounded determined as he prepared for his Yankees postseason debut.

"I understand that I am here to get this team over the top," he said. "And with that, there's no making mistakes. I made a few during the regular season, and unfortunately there's no room to make a lot of mistakes during the postseason."

It wasn't clear whether the game would be played as scheduled tonight at Yankee Stadium. Rain is forecast for three days.

After struggling with his mechanics for 41/2 months during his first season in the Bronx, Johnson found his form after discovering on video that he was rushing his delivery and dropping his arm. He went 6-0 with a 1.92 ERA in his final eight starts.

The Angels are depending on Paul Byrd's brain and arm. Byrd compared himself with Johnson: "The big diesel freight train vs. the Little Engine That Could."

SHOCKING ERRORS: Alex Rodriguez may have been the most shocked person in the park. The Yankees third baseman looked in his glove, and it was empty.

The Gold Glove winner's sixth-inning error on a chopper led to the Angels' tying run, and Los Angeles rallied to win Wednesday.

"That was as routine of a play as it could get," Rodriguez said. "I looked down and I couldn't believe it wasn't in my glove. It was a simple mistake, a real bad play."

Another Yankees error, on a throw to first by rookie pitcher Chien-Ming Wang in the seventh, led to two unearned runs.

New York manager Joe Torre wasn't particularly upset by the errors.

"If they happen, people not paying attention, then yeah, it bothers you," he said. "These guys are playing hard. You just have to live with the results of it, that's all."

WHITE SOX-RED SOX: For once, the Red Sox have history on their side.

Heading into tonight's game at Fenway Park, the team that went 86 years between World Series titles is undaunted by Chicago's 2-0 lead.

After all, these Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees to win the AL championship last year. They're 8-1 in games in which they faced playoff elimination since 2003.

And they had the best home record in the majors this season.

"Every experience you have helps you," Boston manager Terry Francona said Thursday. "If players or me or the coaches or somebody can pull something positive from that experience, good."

The White Sox haven't been World Series champions since 1917, the year before Boston won it - and they're not about to get comfortable now.

"When your enemy's down, you've got to keep your enemy down," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You make some noise and you wake up the monster, you're going to be in trouble."

Freddy Garcia, who pitched much better on the road, will start for the White Sox, against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

GRAFF'S GAFFE: Red Sox second baseman Tony Graffanino is handling the aftermath of his costly error much better than he did the slow grounder that rolled through his legs during Wednesday's loss.

"I'm not going to hide and avoid questions," he said Thursday. "If I want the media around after a good ballgame to talk to them when things are going good, you have to be willing to stand here and man up when things don't go well."

Graffanino said he slept fairly well and got plenty of support from teammates and friends.

In other news, Red Sox closer Keith Foulke had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.