Work in Sports
Yankees get best of relievers in Game 1
Updated: Sunday October 22, 2000 10:41 AM
By Joanna Cohen, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- They say it all comes down to pitching.
The Mets learned that lesson the hard way Saturday night in Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, using five relievers in a 4-3, 12-inning loss. Three Yankee relievers threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
"It was a battle of the bullpen tonight," said pitcher Turk Wendell in a somber Mets locker room in which much of the squad sat quietly eating a post-game meal of spaghetti and chicken. "It's frustrating, but that's baseball. Certain situations get away from you, and tonight we came up short."
Starter Al Leiter threw a tidy, swift seven innings, giving up just two runs on five hits and striking out seven, and reliever John Franco got the job done in the eighth, preserving the Mets' 3-2 lead. The game came unraveled in the bottom of the ninth, however, when Armando Benitez walked struggling Yankees right fielder Paul O'Neill and later gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Chuck Knoblauch.
When questioned about Benitez's uncharacteristically shaky performance, catcher Todd Pratt responded by saying that blame does not always lie with the pitcher.
"[Benitez] pitched fine," Pratt said. "Instead of asking what happened to him, tip your hat to O'Neill. He battled and battled and battled and drew the walk."
But in a game in which 23 men were left on base, it's tough to credit batters rather than blaming them for not capitalizing in the clutch.
"We didn't take advantage of opportunities," Franco said. "If you don't take advantage of opportunities against a good team, it can come back to haunt you."
And haunt them it did. In the bottom of the 12th, with Wendell on the mound, Jose Vizcaino knocked in the winning run for the Yankees.
"[The bullpen] made it interesting every inning," Mets pitcher Glendon Rusch said. "We were fortunate to get out of some tight situations, but eventually it got away from us."
Despite the late-night, late-inning loss, the Mets are prepared to bounce back.
"We'll come back strong [Sunday]," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.