How To Sweep A Championship Team

It took ten innings, but the Yankees pulled out a road sweep over the World Champion Anaheim Angels. Nick Johnson finally broke through and drove home the winning run against Angels closer Troy Percival in the top of the 10th inning. Mariano Rivera retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame to seal the 2-1 win for the Yankees.

The Yankees had plenty of opportunities to score more than one run during the first nine innings of the game, but couldn't capitalize. In seven of the innings, the Yankees got their leadoff batter on base, but only once did they manage to bring that batter around to score.

In the third, newcomer David Dellucci – making his first start as a Yankee in right field – led off the inning with a walk against Angel starter Aaron Sele. Dellucci moved to second on a groundout and scored on a Derek Jeter single to tie the game at one run apiece.

The Angels had taken the lead in the second on a Benji Gil groundout that plated Robert Quinlan. Other than that run, Yankee starter David Wells was lights out for most of the game, as was the Yankee bullpen.

In the tenth, with Percival pitching, Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui walked with one out to put two on. After Jorge Posada hit a foul ball to left that Garret Anderson caught, Nick Johnson stepped up and singled to center to give the Yankees the lead.

Rivera came on to close it in the ninth and earned his 20th save of the year by retiring the side in order. He got David Eckstein to pop out on a 3-2 pitch, struck out Darin Erstad with a filthy cutter, and eventually induced Anderson to fly out to right after he fouled off four straight 1-2 pitches.

The Yankee bullpen was rock solid as well. Jesse Orosco walked one of the two batters he faced and gave way to Armando Benitez with two on in the eighth. Benitez walked Jeff Davanon to load the bases, but he struck out Scott Spiezio with a splitter and got Bengie Molina to pop out to end the inning harmlessly.

For his efforts, Benitez (1-1) got the victory, lasting 1 2/3 innings and allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two.

Wells lasted seven innings, allowing one run on six hits without walking a batter. He only struck out one, and appeared to aggravate his back injury on a play in the sixth inning. Eckstein grounded the pitch to first; Jason Giambi fielded far to his right and threw over to Wells who was covering. But Wells, who was running at full speed, had to reach down to catch the ball and came up in pain. He stayed in the game and didn't seem to be affected too much.

Percival (0-3) took the loss, allowing one run on one hit and two walks while striking out two in the tenth inning.

Dellucci made a fine play in right field to rob Darin Erstad of an extra-base hit. He ran far back and to his left to catch the ball while still running.

With the sweep, the Yankees moved up to 3 ½ games ahead of the Boston Red Sox – who lost Thursday night, also in extra innings – atop the AL East. The Yankees, with the newly-acquired Aaron Boone will next head to Oakland for a three-game series with the Athletics. Game one is on Friday at 10:05 pm Eastern time. Mike Mussina (11-6, 3.38) will lock up with the Athletic's Tim Hudson (9-4, 2.60) in a fantastic pitcher's duel to start things off.

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