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Yankees short hops
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10/14/2004 12:42 AM ET
Yankees short hops
Pitching, key hits help New York to 2-0 ALCS lead
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NEW YORK -- Two games. Two styles. Two victories. The Yankees took a two-game lead in the ALCS with a 3-1 win on Wednesday night, forcing Boston into an immediate hole.

Where Game 1 was sprawling and chaotic, the sequel was orderly and precise. Both pitchers dominated the action, pausing only for a brief glitch in the bottom of the first inning. Both Jon Lieber and Pedro Martinez were at their best, which meant that the batters spent most of their time walking back to the dugout.


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The stats say it all: Lieber allowed just one hit in the first six innings, stifling Boston's batting order. Martinez gave up one hit in the first frame and two more over the next four, controlling the score until one of New York's veterans knocked it out of whack. John Olerud came through with the game's biggest hit, a two-run homer in the sixth inning that gave the home team a commanding lead.

Now, the Sox are down to their last two losses. Their 1-2 punch couldn't block the counter, leaving them battered and broken. The Yanks, meanwhile, are in a familiar spot: On top, ready and willing to put their rivals away.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 2 of the ALCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 4.00 Lieber to the rescue
BA .313 good enough to win
Runs 13 runs dry up, Yanks still win
Fldg % 1.000 again, no errors

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Jon Lieber 1-0, 1.29 ERA simply dominant
John Olerud .286, 1 HR, 2 RBIs one big swing

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Tom Gordon 0-0, 13.50 ERA tough times in October.

Behind the numbers
Seven-plus innings, three singles and one walk. That's all the Red Sox could get off Lieber, who tossed four perfect innings. Boston spaced out the hits, netting one each in the third inning, the seventh and the eighth. Why's that so important? The Yankees have one of the best bullpens in the league -- if their starter gets deep in the game, they generally win. In fact, including the playoffs, New York is 85-5 when leading after seven innings.

Frozen moment
With one on and one out in the seventh inning, Lieber slipped into a potential tight spot. With a three-run lead, he was facing Kevin Millar, nestled right in the heart of Boston's batting order. No matter: Lieber got ahead, 1-2, then coaxed a perfect double-play ball to third base.

Second guess
Yes, Lieber was dominant. But why make him start the eighth? After he ended the seventh with a DP, the Yanks had a perfect chance to go to the bullpen. Instead, Lieber gave up a leadoff single and Gordon came on with a man on base. The reliever promptly allowed a double and a run-scoring ground ball, then Mariano Rivera got four outs for the second straight night. New York weathered the storm, but Torre could've lessened the degree of difficulty.

Modern history
Rivera owns the career LCS record for appearances (22) and is one save shy of Dennis Eckersley's record (11). New York's closer also holds the AL's regular-season mark for saves (336), 12 more than Eck, a recent inductee to the Hall of Fame.

Last word
"These two games were huge -- especially tonight. Curt (Schilling) didn't have his best stuff last night, but Pedro was Pedro." -- Torre, talking about his team's success against Boston's two-headed ace

Spencer Fordin 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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