The Yankees' cool
New Yorkers stay calm 'til it's time to take over
Posted: Sunday October 24, 1999 02:32 PM
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
ATLANTA -- Maybe it's the tradition, the 24 World Series titles thing. Whatever, the New York Yankees have this ... aura. Nothing gets to them. They've been positively unflappable in the postseason. In fact, for a couple of postseasons, at least.
The Atlanta Braves, on the other hand, who own more wins in the '90s than anyone and are in their fifth Series of the decade, are still looking for that. They can be -- flapped. Right now, their cool is probably sitting in a closet somewhere with their bats, also mysteriously missing for most of these playoffs.
And staying cool in the clutch was, simply, the difference between winning and losing in Game 1 of the 1999 World Series on Saturday night.
The patient Yankees hung around for eight innings until they finally got to Atlanta starter Greg Maddux on Saturday night. The Braves, who fell apart with two errors and a couple of killer walks in that fateful eighth, could never manage an inning in which they had more than one baserunner until the last-gasp ninth.
| On The Diamond |
| CNN/SI baseball analyst Ozzie Smith spoke with CNN/SI anchor Vince Cellini after Game 1:|
Vince Cellini: John Rocker threw 30 pitches in that eighth inning and as we look ahead what does that mean for Rocker as far as Game 2 and as far as really getting some postseason failure -- the John Olerud base hit hit aside in the previous series?
Ozzie Smith: Vince, I think Bobby Cox wanted to get maybe 20 pitches out of John Rocker. Tonight he ended up getting 10 more. Now, whether or not that's going to have an effect on how much he pitches tomorrow -- if in fact he does pitch tomorrow -- this will be his first test in postseason. He failed a little bit tonight and it's the first time in all the postseason that he's gotten beat up a little bit. It'll be important to see how he bounces back.
Cellini: The Braves will come back with Kevin Millwood, who's 2-0 in this postseason. What a lot of pressure to be placed on this young man's shoulder, especially against a guy as crafty as David Cone.
Smith: Well, I think that Kevin Millwood probably is the guy. He's probably thrown more consistently than anybody on the staff. I think he will be up for the challenge. This should be another great pitching duel.
"I think it's a testament to this ballclub," said the Yankees' Jim Leyritz, "and how they've played in the postseason. They have had some great players through here in the past few years."
The Yankees have ripped off nine straight World Series wins, much of them with the same personnel. Leyritz helped them back in '96 with a big home run in Game 4 as the Yankees won four straight after losing the first two.
Last year, when the Yankees made a return trip to the Series, they swept the San Diego Padres. Leyritz was on the other side in that one.
He returned this season and played in 31 games for the Yanks and was added to the Series roster because of his clutch postseason play, which includes a .500 batting average including seven home runs. He drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning to seal the win in Game 1
But it's the other guys, too, like Scott Brosius, who somehow found a way to get three singles through the infield in Game 1. All six of the Yankees' hits Saturday were singles. Three of them came in the eight, along with two walks and two Braves' errors. That gave them all the runs they needed in the 4-1 win.
"We're just being patient," Brosius said. "And then a couple guys step up and get the hits to get us the runs."
Then there are the Braves, who took a 1-0 lead into the eighth on their only hit -- a fourth-inning solo home run by third baseman Chipper Jones, his first in 59 at-bats. By the time Jones hit the homer, the Braves had already struck out eight times in 11 trips to the plate.
After that, the Yankees retired eight straight Braves before Jones came up again and drew a walk. He ended the inning when he was thrown out stealing second, though replays showed he was safe.
The Braves' only other hit came on a ninth-inning single by second baseman Bret Boone.
"Well, I honestly thought both pitchers were on top of their game," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said after Game 1. "It was tough, with those kind of pitches they were making, tough to hit ..."
But, somehow, the New Yorkers got it done. And the Braves didn't.
Maybe it's that Yankees aura.
On to The Day at a Glance, which today asks the question: Are all those foam tomahawks environmentally friendly?
The answer: Well, no. But they make fine cushions for your armrest while the Yanks are rallying.
| Streaking |
The Yankees have won nine straight World Series games. The Braves lost their fifth straight Series game Saturday night -- all five to the Yankees.
| First blood |
What's it mean? The Braves know from '96 it means not too much. And history shows that the Game 1 winner walks off with the trophy just 58.5 percent of the time.
| The flu |
The Braves might be best served to keep Tom Glavine away -- far, far away -- until his Game 3 start. They don't need him infecting their already sick bats.
| Up -- The East: |
Maybe no one west of Atlanta cares, but this is the sixth time in seven years both Series teams have been East teams. The Padres in '98 were the exception.
| Up -- Mariano Rivera: |
The Yanks' closer has pitched 39 2/3 straight scoreless innings. He hasn't allowed a run since July 21. That's a closer.
| Up -- El Duque: |
Have to give him his props after striking out 10 in the opener, the most by an American League pitcher in 27 years.
| Down -- John Rocker: |
His job is to hold the opponent. He struck out the side in his inning of work. But he let up a two-run single and walked in another run.
| Down -- (Some) Braves fans: |
It was cold, it was late, and your team was down by a whole three runs. But stick around until the game's over already.
| Did we mention this thing starts too late in the season? It's like playing in Toronto, pre-SkyDome. |
| Can anyone around here hit a ball? Is the pitching that darn good? |
| Darryl Strawberry scares the Braves. A whole, whole lot. |
| Paul O'Neill is simply clutch. Bad rib and all, he won Game 1 for the Yankees. |
| Here's a look at the Game 2 starters
| Kevin Millwood , Braves. 18-7, 2.68 ERA during regular season. Opponents hit .202 off him in regular season. He's 2-0, 2.38 ERA in postseason. |
| David Cone , Yankees. 12-9, 3.44 ERA during regular season. Opponents hit .229 off him. He's 1-0, 2.57 ERA in postseason. |
| That first one doesn't mean a whole lot. But Game 2 ... well, no team in baseball wants to go into the Bronx down 0-2. The Braves have to get a win today in Game 2. |
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