DETROIT - Don Mattingly took a meager .184 batting average into Sunday's game. Luis Polonia was hitting .160. Bernie Williams was hitting just two points higher than Polonia. Yet that trio's perseverance and production helped the resilient New York Yankees outscore Detroit 8-6 Sunday at Tiger Stadium to take the rubber match of their three-game series and conclude a 3-3 trip. Mattingly finished 2 for 5 with a pair of doubles. The first of those represented the only extra-base hit in a three-run third inning that began the scoring. The second triggered a four-run eighth off left-hander Bill Krueger (0-1) that snapped a 4-4 tie. Polonia beat out an infield single to help fuel the third inning and his two-run single climaxed the eighth. Williams, normally the starting center fielder, replaced Daryl Boston as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and promptly tied the score with a fielder's choice. Williams' sacrifice fly delivered the tie-breaker in the eighth. The contributions of those three struggling players said much about the way the scrappy 6-5 Yankees are approaching their business. They started this trip by dropping their first two games in Chicago but salvaged the finale there. They took two of three here in a series made difficult by strong winds and the Tigers' strong hitters. "I like the way we're competing," manager Buck Showalter said. "We're taking the same competitive edge into games that we took last year and that will enable you to play to your abilities. We'll have to see what those abilities are." Mattingly said his track record of success - he's a lifetime .309 hitter - helped him stay positive after early negative results. He had produced just seven hits in 38 at-bats before Sunday. "I've played too long to let 35 at-bats affect my year," the 11-year veteran said. "When I was young, it probably would have scared the heck out of me." When he was young, he undoubtedly would have scrambled to make an adjustment - find a new stance, find a new approach, find something. Now, he's resisting that impulse. "My biggest fight," Mattingly said, "has been not to get frustrated and not to make any changes. I've stuck to my guns by not changing anything. I haven't made any changes in seven or eight weeks now. That may be the longest ever." Mattingly, hitless in eight at-bats in the first two games of this series, used the opposite field to collect both of his big doubles. He stroked a double past third against starter Bill Gullickson in the third inning. He sliced a double to left to lead off the eighth versus Krueger. "So far," Detroit manager Sparky Anderson cracked, "he looks like a right-handed pull hitter." Danny Tartabull followed Mattingly's second double by singling him to third before Paul O'Neill's comebacker advanced Tartabull to second but forced Mattingly to hold while O'Neill was retired. Detroit used the open base to intentionally walk Mike Stanley and put the pressure on the floundering Williams. "I know the way I'm swinging the bat now all I can try to do is make contact, get a good pitch and put a good swing on it," Williams said. That is exactly what he did in lifting a sacrifice fly to right that easily scored Mattingly. Mike Gallego greeted reliever Mike Gardiner with a run-scoring single before last-place hitter Pat Kelly drew a walk to fill the bases for Polonia, who was eager to atone for past offensive sins. "I've been getting some people on base and haven't been getting key hits," said Polonia, a free agent signee. "I think maybe I was not doing better because I've been pressing." He got ahead of Gardiner 2-0 before a swinging strike. "When I swung and missed, I realized I was swinging too hard," he related. "I said, `Just put the bat on the ball and see what happens.' " Polonia steered a single through the middle for two runs and an 8-4 margin. REST OPTIONAL The Yankees needed all of those runs because their starting pitching was shaky. So was their middle relief. Terry Mulholland scrambled through what he described as a "hard six innings," allowing four runs, one earned, on six hits and four walks. He needed 120 pitches to survive six innings, 49 of them to escape a two-run third inning that included a bases-loaded walk to force in a run. Xavier Hernandez went two more hard innings, gaining a win in his first decision as a Yankee despite serving up a two-run homer to Eric Davis in the eighth. Jeff Reardon retired the side in order in the ninth, giving him saves in both of the Yankees' victories here. Reardon's efficiency was the only routine element of a series in which little was routine due to the conditions. The wind was measured at 24 miles per hour at game time Sunday and was gusting much higher than that. "I never thought I'd see a park over here like Candlestick, but this was close," said Yankees' outfielder Paul O'Neill, a former National Leaguer. "I'm glad we got out alive."
PEDULLA, TOM, DETROIT - Don Mattingly took a meager .184 ba., Gannett News Service, 04-17-1994.