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A's are just better

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Oct. 11
Game 2: A's 2, Yankees 0
It was June 9, 1999 that the Oakland Athletics moved Tim Hudson to the big leagues. From that day forward, Hudson is the winningest pitcher in the American League.

Think about that. This sixth-round pick out of Auburn, where he was an All-America center fielder/DH, has been the winningest pitcher in the AL from the day he walked in the door. Some dream of being a .500 pitcher. This man has started 88 major league games ... and is 49-17, one of the most amazing performances of the last decade.

"Try the history of baseball," A's GM Billy Beane said as he boarded the bus for the trip home.

The A's have been a better team than the Yankees two years in a row, but the Yankees don't care, because they are not like many groups of men in any sport. Even though Mark Mulder and Hudson were brilliant, the Yankees never gave up, and their at-bats against them were those of warriors who'd rather end it face down in the street than ever lose. Not to mention their pitchers -- in case you haven't noticed the fact that the A's are 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position and going home up 2-0.

If you videotaped this game, go back to the Derek Jeter at-bat with Chuck Knoblauch on and one out in the eighth, 1-0. Understand that Hudson was almost out of the game in the seventh. Hudson buried Jeter inside with fastballs that ran like 200-mph cars crashing into the walls at the turn at Daytona. Force out. One more out.

"Last year when we won the first game it was a celebration," Beane said as he prepared to fly home. "This year we won this game and the players were like, 'Let's go win tomorrow.' They are very different."

And very good.

Game 2: Mariners 5, Indians 1
What's odd about the Mariners winning 116 games in the regular season is not only did the AL record get lost in a shroud of individual accomplishments in a team sport, but it seemingly has spawned a media fascination with the idea that they are "failures" if they don't win the World Series.

OK, what differentiates the 1998 Yankees (114 wins) from the '54 Indians (111 wins) is the fact that the Yankees won the World Series while the Indians didn't, but all the elements that rolled up the Mariners' 116 wins aren't showcase highlights.

They are the products of grinders.

It isn't a surprise that the Mariners came off losing to Bartolo Colon in Game 1 Tuesday by coming out and taking advantage of Chuck Finley's eagerness in the first inning of Game 2 and rolling up four runs. It isn't a surprise that Jamie Moyer and the bullpen dominated perhaps the AL's best lineup, or that Mark McLemore, Mike Cameron and Ichiro Suzuki all made superb defensive plays. That's what they do, day after day after day.

And no matter what one thinks, the pressure's on the Indians, as good as they are. Because the M's have been living with this "what if you lose ... ?" thing for four months.

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Gammons: Day two notes

Gammons: Day one notes

M's get to Finley early, even series against Indians

Gammons: column archive

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Jason Giambi realizes that Oakland's superb second half positions the Yankees as underdogs.
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Jason Giambi continues to put the finishing touches on his MVP speech.
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