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April 01, 2004 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-01

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14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 1, 2004

Yankees rebound, pound Tampa Bay 12-1


TOKYO (AP) - Hideki Matsui stood at home
plate, received a samurai helmet called the Kabuto,
and raised the gold-and-red armor high for the crowd
to see. The New York Yankees ' traditional domination
had been restored.
Matsui rocked the Tokyo Dome with a two-run
homer, thrilling the Japanese fans who worship him.
Jorge Posada hit three-run shots from both sides of the
plate, Kevin Brown won his first start in pinstripes and
the Yankees calmed their jittery supporters back home
by routing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 12-1 Wednes-
day night.
"Hopefully, we can have many more games like
this," Matsui told the cheering crowd from a podium
near home plate after the game.
After a listless 8-3 loss on opening day, fans back
home who got up at 5 a.m. had been infuriated,
expecting greatness from their heroes, not grogginess.
And then the Yankees fell behind in the first inning
when Aubrey Huff hit an RBI single.
Owner George Steinbrenner took the first loss
calmly, saying, "It's not where you start, it's where you
But an 0-2 trip, which would have left them last in
the AL East, might have led to a different tune.
"It wouldn't be fun. In fact, I made a comment
when we were down 1-0 in the first," Yankees manag-
er Joe Torre said. "I felt a little tenseness in there. I
said, 'Guys, what's the worst thing that can happen?
We lose 162 games, big deal. We can still eat, and
you're still going to get paid.'"
But a day after Tampa Bay surprised the Yankees,
the Bronx Bombers' potent offense restored the old
order - appropriate for a country tied to tradition -

in another game that started before dawn in New York.
Matsui tied it with an RBI single in the third. Tony
Clark, in the lineup at first base because Jason
Giambi's left knee is hurt and Travis Lee is on the dis-
abled list, put New York ahead with a two-run homer
in the fourth.
Matsui, a home-run hero during 10 seasons with the
Yomiuri Giants, teed off in the fifth inning on a belt-
high pitch from Jeremi Gonzalez, sending it deep into
the seats in right-center.
Flashbulbs popped. Fans jumped and stayed up for
a standing ovation, a rarity in Japan. Some of the spec-
tators repeatedly bowed to him. The ovation was pro-
longed, as if fans were trying to get him to come out
for a curtain call. But Matsui, always modest, didn't
leave the dugout.
"It's really a once in a lifetime opportunity," Alex
Rodriguez said. "Who knows when the Yankees are
going to come back? It's a pretty special moment."
A-Rod came a few feet short of a grand slam in the
seventh. The AL MVP had another quiet night in his
second game for New York, going 0-for-5 and drop-
ping to 1-for-9 with no RBIs.
Derek Jeter finally got his first hit, an RBI single
ahead of Rodriguez in the seventh, after going hitless
in his first seven at-bats.
"I was in there saying, 'I'm the last one without a
hit,'" he remembered.
Matsui had another chance to come up big in the
seventh when he batted with the bases loaded, but he
struck out against Trever Miller.
Posada, meanwhile, homered right-handed off
Damian Moss in the fifth and left-handed against
Jorge Sosa in the seventh. It was the fifth time he

homered from both sides in the same game, the first
since June 28, 2002, against the New York Mets.
He thought ahead to the 7,250-mile flight back to
spring training in Florida. The Yankees were due to
land at home just after midnight, ending a 38-hour day
caused by the time difference.
Tampa Bay, coming off six straight last-place fin-
ishes, was pretty much overlooked during its five days
in Japan.
"We came to play a team that was very popular
here," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "If we
can play .500 against New York all year, I'll be very,
very pleased."
Brown, the 39-year-old right-hander acquired from
Los Angeles in December, allowed six hits in seven
innings, struck out five, walked none and got career
win No. 198. Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera fin-
ished with hitless relief.
Brown's turning point came in the fourth, when
he gave up a leadoff single to Jose Cruz Jr. and went
to a 3-0 count on Tino Martinez. Brown came back
to strike out Martinez as Cruz was caught trying to
steal second.
Last year, the Dodgers totaled just 17 runs in his
nine losses.
But the night belonged to Matsui, Japan's biggest
baseball star.
When he received the helmet, the videoboard in the
Big Egg showed his father in the stands. Many of
Matsui's teammates watched.
The souvenir of the long trip could prove useful
during the long season. When you play for the Yan-
kees, where anything short of a World Series title is
unacceptable, armor comes in handy.

Gennaro Filice: Jim Weber:
NutNn' But a 'G' Thang The Realest

Last season was a dead heat between Filice and Weber: Filice had
the Florida Marlins as his surprise team, while Weber predicted the
Tigers would win fewer than 5r ames. This season, the two square off
again for ;prognostication dominance.

Tigers Record
Tigers MVP


Pudge Rodriguez
New York Yankees

AL East

AL Central

Kansas City

AL West

AL Wild Card


NL East


NL Central
NL West
NL Wild Card


San Francisco

Ugueth Urbina
New York Yankees
San Francisco
New York
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Rich Harden (Oak.)
Vladimir Guerrero
Brian Giles


AL Pennant Winner
NL Pennant Winner
World Series Champion
Surprise Team
Breakout Player

San Diego
Bobby Crosby (Oak.)
Carlos Beltran
Jim Thome

M'nine s
relies on
small ball
By Matt Venegoni
z 3 nv 'Daily Sports Writer

"Chicks dig the long ball."
Or so the ad campaign said a few
years ago for Major League Baseball.
The Michigan baseball team digs the
"small ball." The Wolverines rely on it
to win many of their games. Small ball
is not necessarily the most popular
offensive strategy in baseball, but it can
be highly effective -just ask the World
Series champion Florida Marlins.
Small ball utilizes bunting, the hit-
and-run and base stealing. While a sac-
rifice bunt may not be extremely
exciting, it can be very useful.
An example of this comes from this
past weekend in the Michigan Classic.
In the first game against Oakland,
Michigan produced runs by bunting
twice in the third inning. Shortstop Jere-
my Goldschmeding singled to start the
inning, but advanced to second on a
bunt single from leftfielder Nick Rud-
den. Centerfielder Eric Rose then
loaded the bases with a bunt single. A
couple well-timed hits later, and Michi-
gan was up 2-0 on the way to"a 6-2 vic-
tory over the Grizzlies.
"(Small ball) has been a part of our
philosophy all year - since day one,"
Michigan coach Rich Maloney said.
By virtue of The Fish, Michigan has
to play small ball. The Fish is not a
homerun-friendly park - it is a large
stadium with dimensions of 400 feet to
center (which has a tall wall), 330 feet
down the lines and 375 feet to the
power alleys. Since Michigan plays at
least 18 games at home, it tailors its
style of play to the park.
The first and third base lines are
completely grass, not dirt, making it
much easier to bunt and get on base.
In tight games, the difference
between a win and loss can be a sacri-
fice bunt or a perfectly executed hit-
and-run, all elements of small ball.
"We don't have a great deal of power,
so we have to do the small game
extremely well," Maloney said. "We
have worked extremely hard on it. Assis-
tant coach Jason Murray has made sure
that we can play that part of the game."
Michigan has hit just nine homeruns
this season, but has stolen 21 bases in
33 attempts. Six of the steals have come
from outfielder Matt Butler, the team
leader in runs batted in as well.
"We try to utilize our speed as much
as possible," Maloney said.,"In recruit-
ing, we have tried to get that speed."
While Michigan has bunted well this
season, another key aspect is actually
hitting away. As a team, Michigan is hit-
ting .317, while keeping strikeouts to a
A team cannot count on hitting a grand
slam or three-run homerun every game to
win. The Wolverines understand that and
have adjusted their play to their strengths.




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