Work in Sports
Game 4 starters: Veteran lefty opposes one-hit wonder
NEW YORK (AP) -- The way Denny Neagle sees it, starting Game 4 of the World Series is no big deal, even if it seemed that way for a while.
"I felt I warranted the start," he said. "I felt I did my job well enough to get the start."
There was some debate about that among the New York Yankees decision-makers. And manager Joe Torre admitted it was a toss-up between Neagle, who struggled late in the season and David Cone, who struggled all season.
"I totally understand why David was considered," Neagle said. "A lot was said about the loyalty factor. But he's 5-0 with a 2.00 ERA in World Series."
Neagle's numbers were a bit off. Cone is 2-0 in five World Series starts but had a dreadful season, finishing 4-14 with a 6.91 ERA. Neagle won his first two starts for the Yankees after being acquired from Cincinnati, but then finished 7-7 in New York and was 0-3 with a 15.19 ERA in his last three starts.
He believes those troubles are behind him.
"I feel like I'm where I need to be," he said. "Any mechanical flaws I had, I ironed out in the ALCS."
"His last two starts were fine, twice against Seattle," he said. "The first was very good, the second good enough to win if he had run support. If he pitches that way, throws strikes, he gets people out."
When Torre was undecided about whether to start Cone or Neagle, it created some clubhouse grumbles from the left-hander, who aired his complaints in the media.
"I didn't think he was as aggressive in his second start against Seattle," Torre said. "He thought he was. We discussed it. He went to the media. I talked with him, and told him if he has a problem to come talk to me and let's talk it out. I like to talk face-to-face and clear the air."
Part of Torre's final decision included the success of his left-handers in the first two games of the Series and the fact that Neagle shut the Mets out at Shea early this season for the Reds.
The Mets will use Bobby J. Jones in Game 4 and hope he gives them the kind of one-hit shutout he had in the division clincher against San Francisco instead of the four innings, six runs and six hits he gave up in his start against St. Louis in the NLCS.
The Yankees beat Jones twice during a season in which he went 11-6 and won seven of his last eight decisions after going to the minors to work out some mechanical problems.
In his last start before being sent down, the Yankees drilled him for seven runs and nine hits, knocking him out in the fifth.
"I'm a little more consistent now than I was in my first game at Yankee Stadium," he said. "That was in the middle of my struggles. It was not a good time for me."
Now, the Mets feel a little more comfortable with him. Jones knows the Yankees are a tough assignment.
"They're a great offensive club," he said. "They're very patient. They wait for a good pitch to hit. You have to make sure every one is a good pitch."
Jones said he doesn't dwell on his past problems with the Yankees any more than he does on the one-hitter that finished off the Giants in the first round of the playoffs.
"I always put my previous starts behind me, good or bad," he said.
For the Mets, trailing in the best-of-seven series, a good one is almost mandatory.