Damon: This could turn momentum
Leadoff man discusses Game 3, A-Rod and Yanks fans
A veteran of eight postseason series, Johnny Damon got his first taste of what they are like in a Yankees uniform in 2006, as New York went down in four games to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series.
It wasn't the outcome he was expecting, and the 33-year-old outfielder is hoping for better stories to tell after the Yankees complete their run in October 2007. He got one on Sunday, clubbing a pivotal three-run homer to change the momentum of New York's 8-4 victory over the Indians, staving off elimination on a day when manager Joe Torre's job security came into serious question.
Throughout the 2007 postseason, Damon will take part in a Q&A with MLB.com, sharing his thoughts after every Yankees game. On Sunday, Damon explored what he was thinking as he waved to 56,358 cheering fans, high praise from the likely AL Most Valuable Player, hearing an appreciative mid-inning roll call and more:
What were you thinking after you hit the home run off Jake Westbrook, rounded the bases and took that curtain call in front of the dugout?
What I was really thinking was that I hoped I could take Joe up with me and have him salute the fans. It feels good, and it feels good that I was put in that situation and had my teammates get on base, but to change the momentum like that -- hopefully it changes the momentum of the entire series.
Alex Rodriguez said later that moments like that show why you are "the best leadoff hitter in the game." That's pretty high praise. What does it mean to hear that from him?
He's definitely given me a lot of support here. To hear it from the game's greatest player, it means a lot. I'm a big fan of his, as he is of me. Hopefully, we can just get tomorrow's ballgame.
Where does this night rank on your list of all-time postseason moments?
It's got to be up there. I wish this was a deciding game, but it's way up there and hopefully I'll have a few more big ones before it's all over.
What was it like standing out there in left field, warming up between innings, and hearing the fans chant your name?
Incredible. I remember back in 2001 when the fans were cheering for Paul O'Neill, knowing that it was his last time here. These fans are tremendous. They support their players, and they rally behind them. I'm happy I got them to rally behind me tonight.
Does a night like this do anything to change the attitude in the dugout?
Well, we're still down in this series, and we need to win two more so we can advance. We know what the job at hand is and hopefully tomorrow we come out and play very well.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.