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Notes: Game 1 done, over with
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10/01/2003  6:06 PM ET 
Notes: Game 1 done, over with
Players squarely focused on task at hand Thursday
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"We just have to play a good baseball game," Jason Giambi said Wednesday. "We'll just learn from yesterday and take it into tomorrow." (Julie Jacobson/AP)
NEW YORK -- Despite an 0-for-4 performance in Tuesday's Division Series opener against the Twins, Jason Giambi isn't about to proclaim that his season is all but over.

As a matter of fact, the Yankees slugger believes that losing Game 1 may be the best thing that could have happened for him.

Giambi, who has been to the postseason four years running, saw his team win the opener in each of the first three years -- twice with Oakland against New York and last year when the Yankees took Game 1 from the Anaheim. In each of those series, Giambi's team went home at the end of the series, forced to look ahead to another spring in early October.

"Maybe this is a good thing," Giambi said after the Yankees' Wednesday afternoon workout. "Every first round, I've won the first game and lost. Maybe this is a good omen."

Giambi is joking, of course, that his team is better off down, 0-1, than having won the opener. But the mood in the Yankees clubhouse was light on Wednesday as the Bronx Bombers readied themselves for Thursday night's Game 2.

    Jason Giambi   /   1B
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 235
Bats/Throws: L/R

More info:
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"Yesterday is over. We had a good workout today, so we'll try to go out, have some fun and play well tomorrow," Giambi said. "We just have to play a good baseball game. We'll just learn from yesterday and take it into tomorrow."

Giambi, who scuffled at the plate for much of the regular season, left four men on base Tuesday, contributing to New York's 1-for-10 output with runners in scoring position. Although many pointed to the Yankees' $120 million cleanup hitter as the player who needs to get the job done with men on base, Giambi had his defenders as well.

"Money is going to make you live better; it's not going to make you play better," said Reggie Jackson, who knows a thing or two about playing in October. "You can certainly make a story out of yesterday, but it was just chapter one. It's one day. The concern has more impact if he has another bad day."

Giambi hit .250 this season, almost 60 points below his career average, though his 41 homers and 107 RBIs led the Yankees.

"He struggled this year, but he put up some big numbers, too," said general manager Brian Cashman. "He was 0-for-4 yesterday. That's one game. I've heard a lot of people talk about him not getting the job done in the playoffs, but look at last year -- he was awesome."

"I'd sure like to have him on my team," Jackson said. "I think it's in him to rise to the occasion."

In last year's ALDS against the Angels, Giambi hit .357 (5-for-14) with a home run and three RBIs, in the Yankees' four-game series defeat. He said Wednesday that while winning Game 2 was important for the Yankees, it wasn't a "must win" game to extend their season.

"I've been up 2-0 and still lost," he said. "We just have to play well. If we do that, we have a real good chance of winning."

Center of attention: Bernie Williams' misplay that led to Torii Hunter's sixth-inning triple received a lot of attention after Game 1. The play, which led to two Twins runs after Alfonso Soriano threw away Williams' relay throw, turned a 1-0 lead into a 3-0 advantage for the Twins, who went on to win the game, 3-1.

Williams' ability in center field has been a hot topic lately, as the 35-year-old appears to have lost a step following his May knee surgery.

    Bernie Williams   /   CF
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: S/R

More info:
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"As long as I'm well enough to go out there, I'm going to expect the most from myself," Williams said. "I feel that if I can get a good jump on the ball, I can still go get 'em. When you miss 42 games it's bound to have some effect, but I feel I can go out there and do all the things I'm supposed to do."

Fortunately for Williams, Joe Torre is not among the people talking about his diminishing skills, as the manager gave another vote of confidence to the five-time All-Star.

"Bernie is a big-game player for me," Torre said. "I trust Bernie, and even though I make light of him a lot, it's always with affection. I've never had a problem with Bernie not being able to handle the heat. He's got a unique personality, no question, but that's what makes him lovable. I don't think any of this will affect him."

Cashman said there have been no internal talks about Williams' future in center field, though Hideki Matsui's ability to play the position could facilitate a move to left field for Williams as soon as next year.

"We have not had any discussions about our positions and what our future is in those areas," Cashman said. "We believe that Bernie gets the job done for us in center field. Every winter, we regroup and assess every aspect of our club. We're just hoping that doesn't take place until November."

Williams didn't seem concerned with his play and was confident that he would be able to put Game 1 in the rearview mirror.

"The fans here are very emotional," Williams said. "And you have to take the good with the bad. You let it go and you move on."

Youth movement: Nick Johnson had a tough Game 1, leaving five runners on base in his final three at-bats, which came in the fifth, seventh and ninth innings. Johnson, who went 0-for-4 with a walk in the contest, said that even with the stakes so high, he took the same approach to the plate on Tuesday as he had all season.

    Nick Johnson   /   1B
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: L/L

More info:
Stats
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Expos site

"I'm just trying to get on base for the other guys, get things going," Johnson said. "I can't do anything about yesterday, so I just have to move forward and hope it doesn't happen again."

Johnson hit .284 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs in 96 games this season, walking an impressive 70 times and compiling a .422 on-base percentage.

"Nick can hit, that's the bottom line," said Derek Jeter. "He's patient, doesn't swing at many bad pitches and gets on base a lot. It was one bad day."

Johnson's seventh-inning at-bat, which came with two outs and runners at the corners, was a good example of his feistiness at the plate. With LaTroy Hawkins on the mound, the 25-year-old first baseman fought off pitch after pitch, ultimately striking out on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

"I thought Nick had good at-bats," Jeter said. "He fouled off a lot of pitches, including some 97 mph fastballs. That's not easy to do. I'm not worried about Nick because he's got an outstanding idea at the plate."

"He got to two strikes and he fought it off, fought it off for a while," Torre said. "He's struggling right now. It's rhythm he doesn't have. He's fine, physically, it's just a matter of getting his timing back."

Despite the tough opener, Johnson is looking forward to his next crack at the Twins on Thursday.

"I haven't been swinging the bat that well, but that was yesterday," Johnson said. "I have to just try to move forward and try to take some quality at-bats in the next game."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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