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ALCS notebook

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000


M's happy to leave with split

NEW YORK -- Some things are just a matter of perspective.

After winning Game 2 of the AL Championship Series on Wednesday, the Yankees said they felt very comfortable with the situation and confident about their chances.

So did the Mariners.

"I feel good about our situation," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "We came in here really wanting to split. We got in position to win two ballgames, but it didn't happen.

"But now we go back to our home ballpark. ... It's a shame this one got away, but there's nothing wrong with coming into your opponent's ballpark and splitting with them."

NOW WHAT: For three batters, it looked exactly like what the Yankees needed. But when they got nothing after loading the bases in the first -- Bernie Williams tapping into a home-to-first double play and Tino Martinez grounding out -- it couldn't have been worse. "I said to (bench coach Don) Zimmer, "Have we seen everything yet?' " Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "This was just added to the list. It was more comical than feeling sorry for yourself."

LOU-LOU: Piniella headed back to Seattle with the Mariners after Wednesday's game, but his longer-term future remains uncertain because his contract expires after the season.

Asked if he thought he would be back in Seattle, Piniella said, "I don't know that. And the reason I say that is, first of all, it's not my decision, it's ownership's decision. Second of all, I'm basically in the same position that our young shortstop (Alex Rodriguez) is in. I'm just going to weigh my options at the end of the year and see what happens."

WAKE-UP CALL: The length of the ALCS games is an issue. Tuesday's 2-0 opener took 3 hours, 45 minutes, and Wednesday's 7-1 game lasted 3:32. An additional 20-30 seconds between innings for commercials is one reason for the painful length, but the pace of play is slow as well. "I think we have too much information, and when we try to put this game in a test tube, I don't think it holds up very well," Torre said. "Instead of going out there and saying, "You against me, let's see who is better,' we're trying to find ways to be perfect, and you can't do that in this game."

MEL DOING WELL: Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is doing well and "feeling great" in his battle against bone cancer, wife Jean said. Jean, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday's game, said Mel has been watching the games and could rejoin the team part time if the Yankees reach the World Series.

FREQUENT FLIERS: The Yankees left for Seattle on Wednesday, their third cross-country flight in five days. "I don't think it is going to have any effect at all," Martinez said. "This time of year, the American League Championship Series, there's no excuses. Nobody can say they're tired."

MISCELLANY: Rickey Henderson bruised an ankle in Tuesday's opener and did not start. ... Martinez is batting .444 in the playoffs. ... The 22 strikeouts in Tuesday's game were an ALCS record. ... It was Orlando Hernandez's birthday Wednesday, but there is some question whether it was No. 31 or 35.

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