SEATTLE -- The opposing managers in the divisional series between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees know that the road goes steeply uphill from here. Neither seemed particularly surprised that the Cleveland Indians made such short work of the Boston Red Sox in the other American League playoff.
"It's not a surprise," Yankees manager Buck Showalter said before last night's game. "As well as Boston played and the way they pitched this year, you don't win 100 games by accident. Cleveland's not a one-dimensional team. They pitch well. They have a great lineup and they probably have the best bullpen in baseball.
"It's surprising to the point that you'd expect Boston to win one or two games at home, but it doesn't negate the season that they've had. Boston should be very proud of the season they had and the job that Kevin [Kennedy, manager] did."
Mariners manager Lou Piniella echoed basically the same sentiment, though he refused to make any comparisons with his club.
"Cleveland has a pretty good ballclub," he said. "They showed that all year. They clinched a long time ago and they kept playing well right through September. They came in with a lot of momentum."
Running on empty
Mariners ace Randy Johnson said that he was physically and emotionally drained when he took the mound for Game 3, but Piniella indicated last night that Johnson would be available out of the bullpen for Game 5.
"There's a possibility of that," Piniella said.
Johnson has pitched 16 innings in the past six days, but Piniella said he probably would be capable of an inning of short relief on one day's rest.
Blowers out, then in
Mariners third baseman Mike Blowers was not in the original starting lineup for last night's game. He was hit in the neck by a pitch from Yankees starter Jack McDowell in Game 3 and was so sore Friday night that Piniella assumed he wouldn't be available.
Utility player Doug Strange was in the first draft of the Mariners' lineup, but Blowers warmed up well and was re-inserted about an hour before game time.
"He loosened up real well in pre-game so we put him back in there," Piniella said.
Not a tough decision.
Strange had two homers and 21 RBIs in 74 games. Blowers had 23 homers and 96 RBIs during the regular season and provides protection in the lineup for slugger Jay Buhner.
The game was delayed briefly between the first and second innings when umpires warned both pitchers and managers about pitching too far inside.
The warnings came after Yankees starter Scott Kamieniecki dusted off Mariners second baseman Joey Cora in the bottom of the first.
The pitch may not have been intentional -- since Cora hangs his chin right over home plate -- but the umpires were taking no chances the day after Blowers was hit.
Game 3 revisited
* Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly struck out three times in Friday night's game, including a dramatic three-pitch whiff with the bases loaded. That might not seem so surprising, considering that Johnson was pitching, but it was only the sixth time in Mattingly's career that he has struck out that many times in one game.
* Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams hit a home run from each side of the plate in Game 3, becoming the first to accomplish that in postseason play.
* Yankees third baseman Russ Davis suffered a gash on his left hand when he slammed down his batting helmet after a strikeout Friday night. The cut required seven stitches, but Showalter said Davis was available for last night's game but was not used.