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10/07/07 11:33 PM ET

Chess Match: Nixon offers mixed results

Lefty homers off Clemens, but later commits two-run error

NEW YORK -- The Yankees now have a 1-0 record in games that could have a direct determination on Joe Torre's managerial future. The breaks went their way Sunday, and so did the hits.

Riding the Rocket
The situation:
Yankees starter Roger Clemens hadn't pitched for New York since Sept. 16 due to various injuries, including a strained left hamstring.

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The decision: Instead of giving the nod to either Phil Hughes or Mike Mussina, Yankees manager Joe Torre opts to stick with the 45-year-old Clemens for the start in Game 3.

The outcome: Clemens lasted just 2 1/3 innings, exiting after aggravating his left hamstring injury and yielding three runs to the Tribe. Hughes entered in relief and spun 3 2/3 scoreless innings, giving New York's offense time to regain the lead.

The analysis: "He was very unhappy when we took him out. Not the fact that he felt he could pitch more, it was just the fact that he was there to do a job, and he was really upset that he had to leave at that point in time." -- Torre

Home run Trot
The situation: Trot Nixon makes his first appearance in the American League Division Series, starting in right field in place of Franklin Gutierrez.

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The decision: Cleveland manager Eric Wedge elected to go with the left-handed hitting veteran against Clemens, choosing Nixon over Gutierrez or Jason Michaels.

The outcome: Nixon homered on the third pitch he saw from Clemens, in his only at-bat against the New York starter, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead in the second. Nixon now has four career home runs against the right-hander.

The analysis: "It was nice. A lot of guys who have been in the postseason really enjoy this atmosphere. You have to enjoy this atmosphere, You live for it. I was excited to get that opportunity today. Whether I play or not, it doesn't really matter. I'm here for these guys, whether I'm on the field or on the bench." -- Nixon

Walk this way
The situation: Runners on second and third for the Yankees with one out in the sixth, and left-handed reliever Aaron Fultz on the mound. Hideki Matsui was next up to the plate, followed by Robinson Cano, both solid left-handed hitters.

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The decision: Cleveland elected to load the bases by intentionally walking Matsui, a stronger source of power, and face Cano with a force at any base.

The outcome: Cano ripped Fultz's first pitch into right field for a run-scoring single, with two more runs scoring on Nixon's error.

The analysis: "You can look at the game in two swings of the bat. The fastball up to [Johnny] Damon and he pulled it out of the ballpark and that was three runs. Then, the ball Cano hit a couple of innings later. That accounted for five of their eight runs. The game could have been different, but they took advantage of the mistakes." --Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis

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