Braves have failed to field, pitch or hit well against Yanks
Posted: Monday October 25, 1999 09:30 AM
A switch in personnel for offense may have cost Ozzie Guillen and the Braves on the defensive end. AP
ATLANTA (AP) -- Pick your poison.
Hitting? The Atlanta Braves managed just five hits Sunday night and were routed 7-2 by the New York Yankees, falling behind 2-0 in a World Series that looks like the Debacle of the Decade.
Defense? One night after defensive replacement Brian Hunter made two errors at first base in a 4-1 loss, shortstop Ozzie Guillen let in a run by dropping a soft liner that he could have caught with his bare hands.
Pitching? Kevin Millwood, who threw a one-hitter in his first postseason start, surrendered three hits before he even got an out Sunday night. By the third inning, he was gone.
Team of the '90s? Looks like that title is New York-bound, just like this Series.
"We're not playing like the team that won 103 games," reliever John Rocker said. "We haven't looked good in any area."
| On The Diamond |
| CNN/SI baseball analyst Ozzie Smith spoke with CNN/SI anchor Vince Cellini after Game 2:|
Ozzie Guillen just basically lost his concentration. On a ball like that, what you try and do is you try to get down low and you backhand that ball rather catch that ball on the side. Because coming off the left-handed bat, that ball is tailing toward your right side. So to combat that [tailing] all you do is flip the glove over. Guillen went at that ball wrong.
On Lockhart's play, he didn't get a perfect throw but he still had enough time. I think he tried to rush it a little bit; he didn't have a real good grip on the ball. Then he was trying to find the bag and that was compounded because he didn't have a good grip on the ball.
I can certainly see what Bobby Cox was trying to do with the moves that he made tonight. But they were moves that just did not work out.
The Yankees, willing and able to take advantage of every mistake, are halfway home to yet another Series title, blowing through Atlanta like a sweep in the making. The next three games in the best-of-7 series are set for Yankee Stadium, though two may be enough if things don't change dramatically for the Braves.
The only consolation: Atlanta is in virtually the same predicament that faced New York three years ago, when the Braves outscored the AL champs 16-1 to win the first two games at Yankee Stadium. New York took the title by winning the next four, including three in Atlanta.
Of course, there are just seven players on the current roster who played in the '96 Series, so the Braves may have to be content with being runner-up for the fourth time this decade.
"I was in northern Arizona camping at the time," said Terry Mulholland, acquired in a midseason trade. "The 1996 Series has no bearing on this Series as far as I'm concerned."
Atlanta's hitters are looking downright silly against New York's wily pitchers, very much aware that they can get just about everyone outside of Chipper Jones to swing at offerings beyond the limits of the strike zone. Maybe if Andres Galarraga and Javy Lopez were able to play, things would be different.
But with a revamped lineup that included three players -- Guillen, Keith Lockhart and Greg Myers -- making their first starts of the postseason, the Braves had maybe four or five hard-hit balls the entire game. They finally scored two meaningless runs with two outs in the ninth but are still batting just .121 (7-of-58) in the Series.
"It's one of those contagious things," hitting coach Don Baylor said. "Guys are starting to press, even at this level. They're trying to do something, but nothing is happening."
Game 2 was basically over after the top half of the first. Chuck Knoblauch led off against Millwood by lining an 0-2 pitch to center field for a single. Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill followed with singles as well, the latter driving in a run.
Millwood, the Braves' most consistent starter during the regular season, had a chance to escape when Bernie Williams hit into a double play. But Tino Martinez singled in another run, Ricky Ledee walked and Scott Brosius made it 3-0 with yet another line-drive single.
In the third, the Yankees finished off Millwood, whose first World Series appearance became his shortest stint of the season. Williams singled, Martinez singled and Ledee doubled in a run.
Manager Bobby Cox walked slowly to the mound to remove Millwood, who had gone at least five innings in every start - 33 in a row - since lasting just 3 1-3 innings at Los Angeles on April 20. Of they eight hits he surrendered, five came with two strikes.
"I didn't make any out pitches," Millwood said. "I would get ahead in the count, then throw it down the middle of the plate. You can't do that."
After Millwood departed, it was time for the defense to fall apart.
Guillen, inserted for offense, cost a run at shortstop when he inexplicably dropped David Cone's soft liner in the fourth with two outs and a runner at third. Cox, looking on from the dugout, held his hands over his cap in disbelieving anguish.
"I just made one mistake," Guillen said. "We didn't lose the game because of my mistake. We lost the game because we didn't score any runs."
Lockhart contributed to the defensive woes in the fourth. Martinez hit a grounder to shortstop that should have been an inning-ending double play, but Lockhart bobbled the relay throw from Guillen and made a hurried, off-target throw to first, allowing another run to score.
By then, some Atlanta fans already were trudging toward the main gate on Abernathy Boulevard while the ample New York contingent was chanting, "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!"
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