Work in Sports
Leiter, Pettitte set for rematch in Game 5
Updated: Thursday October 26, 2000 6:06 AM
It will be a rematch of the Series opener won 4-3 in 12 innings by the Yankees. Neither pitcher was involved in the decision that night when the Yankees rallied to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth. Leiter pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and five hits, while Pettitte was knocked out in the seventh and gave up three runs and eight hits.
Both bring a cerebral approach to the task of pitching.
"I don't know if I learned a lot (in the opener)," Pettitte said. "I was making a lot of quality pitches and usually, when you make good pitches, you're going to get guys out.
"I pretty much threw a pretty good game. I was keeping the ball down, moving it in and out, the way I like to. That's always my approach, just to try and get ahead and when I get ahead, try to make quality pitches and try to get guys out."
Leiter endorsed that approach and explained how changing his point of view had turned him into a better pitcher.
"What I realized is that by throwing as hard as you can and overthrowing, it doesn't, and didn't, work," he said. "Through a period of years, I learned that if you change speeds and locations and work hitters, it's a better approach.
"My walks have gone down a great deal. On 3-and-2, I'd much rather give up a single than a walk. I'll pick an area where the batter can't drive the ball out of the park. If he gets a single, who cares? What I focus on is executing quality pitches."
Pettitte was 19-9 during the regular season with a 4.35 ERA. His 88 wins over the last five seasons are the third most in the majors over that span, trailing only Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux, who each won 90.
Leiter was 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA, his sixth straight season with 10 or more wins.
Both Pettitte and Leiter earned their 100th victories during the 2000 season and both also have important World Series experience.
Pettitte is remembered for a 1-0 victory against Atlanta in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, the Yankees' third straight victory over the Braves in what became a record 14-game World Series winning streak.
That streak ended Tuesday when the Mets beat Orlando Hernandez 4-2. Pettitte admitted he was a little shocked at seeing his team lose.
"I was really sitting there, very confident that we were going to win the game," he said. "And even when we were down two, I think we felt like we were going to have some magic."
Leiter was Florida's Game 7 starter against Cleveland in 1997 when the Marlins won the World Series. He still remembers his first pitch that night -- "curveball to Omar Vizquel."
His preparation is much the same now as it was then.
"I envision their lineup," he said. "I know what I want to do with pitch location -- a slider on the hands, a curve away. That's what I think about."
Both Pettitte and Leiter endorsed Shea Stadium, which is often criticized.
"This is a good park to pitch in," the Yankees left-hander said. "I don't mind pitching here at all."
Leiter was interrupted by mysterious rumbles and crashes as he spoke.
"Shea Stadium," he said smiling. "I like this place. It's a pitcher's park."