By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 22, 2001
NEW YORK -- Who's on first?
For a while Sunday night, it seemed like everybody was.
Mariners and Yankees pitchers combined for a League Championship Series record 15 walks.
Seattle starter Paul Abbott walked eight in his five innings -- and didn't give up a hit. He needed 97 pitches, 48 of them balls, to get 15 outs.
Could he recall a similar outing?
"Just when I was walking the high wire in Vegas one time," he said.
"It's not easy. You know, actually it was eight walks in four innings because the first inning went 1-2-3. Maybe in A ball or my senior year in high school.
"It wasn't the most pleasurable of outings out there, being in that situation in Yankee Stadium with all those guys on base. But I stuck to my game plan. I just didn't want to give in at any time, and I guess it worked."
The playoff game with the most pedestrian activity before Sunday was Game 4 of the 1974 ALCS, when Baltimore and Oakland pitchers combined to walk 14.
THEY'RE SORRY: Yankees players apologized for leaving the clubhouse Saturday night without talking with the media.
"On behalf of everyone who wasn't available yesterday, I want to apologize," Derek Jeter said in an unscheduled trip to the interview room with Chuck Knoblauch. "We did not intentionally do it so you guys were not able to do your jobs, so hopefully you don't take it personally."
Outfielder Bernie Williams said the players left because they all were out of the game and saw an opportunity for a short night.
Manager Joe Torre said he was not happy with his players' actions.
"It's not the right thing," Torre said. "I talked to my players before we went out to batting practice today. I wasn't in a great mood myself after the game yesterday, (but) I know they are better than that. I think they were frustrated, but that doesn't make it the right thing to do."
ON THE OTHER HAND: The six combined hits matched an ALCS record for fewest in a game. ... Williams' home run was his 15th in postseason play, matching Babe Ruth for fourth on the all-time list.
WELL, YES, BUT: Since the start of the 1998 season, Aaron Sele has more regular-season wins (69) than any American League pitcher. But in five postseason starts, he is 0-4, with all the losses, including Game 1 last week, coming to the Yankees.
ROCKET MAN: Roger Clemens' seven strikeouts gave him a record 53 in ALCS play. He had been tied with Jim Palmer at 46. Clemens has made nine ALCS starts; Palmer made eight.
MUTUAL ADMIRATION: Torre said he understood exactly why Seattle manager Lou Piniella predicted the series would return to Seattle for Game 6 after his Mariners fell behind 2-0. "You win 116 games, to say you are going to run the series back to Seattle is not a big reach for him," Torre said. "But he certainly is a motivator. I love him to death. He's a wild man. What can I tell you? He loves to win. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and I appreciate that."
FACES IN THE CROWD: Mayor Rudy Giuliani ... Paul McCartney ... Billy Crystal ... Tom Brokaw.