"It was fun being back in the National League," said Torre, referring to the fact that the games in Atlanta were played under National League rules. "Anyone who says the DH is better is nuts." It was a game so complex that Torre, whose previous 14 seasons of managing were in the National League with the Cardinals, the Braves and the New York Mets, said an American League manager without National League experience could not have won it. Torre so outmanaged Cox that Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said, "If it wasn't the greatest game managed, it's in the top three."
Said Torre, "It was great. [Bench coach] Don Zimmer and I were yelling at each other during the game, 'What's next? Where's the pitcher hitting? How many players we got left?' I kept saying, 'Isn't this great?' And Zim would go, 'Shaddup." "
With Atlanta leading 6-3, Cox brought in his closer, righthander Mark Wohlers, to start the eighth inning, something he had done only once this year. Wohlers throws so hard that when Leyritz came to the plate with one out and runners on first and third, he took a bat from Darryl Strawberry, the Northern League emigrant, rather than use one of his own. "I only had a couple left, and I didn't want to break one," Leyritz said later. Wohlers threw him a 100-mph fastball, and Leyritz fouled it straight back.
"You could see a look on Wohlers's face like, Oh, s- - -," Cone said. "He'd given him his best shot, and Jimmy was right on it."
Wohlers also threw a 98-mph fastball, and Leyritz had that one timed too, fouling it back. That's when Wohlers removed his best bullet, the fastball, from his magazine. "I've been on the shuttle to [Triple A] Richmond too many times to keep pounding my head against a wall," he said. So he threw a slider, his third-best pitch, and hung it. Leyritz blasted the ball out of the park, tying the game. "That," Torre said, "was the hit that made us believe we were going to win this thing."
The Yankees won when Wade Boggs—Torre's last position player on the bench—drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the 10th. Then Cox slipped up. He pulled a double switch, bringing Brad Clontz in to pitch and replacing McGriff at first base with lefthanded-hitting Ryan Klesko, whom Cox would have lead off the Atlanta half of the 10th. Said Stottlemyre, "We couldn't decide who to start in the bottom of the inning, [lefthander Graeme] Lloyd or [righthander John] Wetteland. We went back and forth three or four times. But when he had Klesko leading off, it was a no-brainer. He made the decision for us."
By making the switch, Cox, who wanted to avoid having to pinch-hit for Clontz, weakened himself defensively and had Klesko, who blasted only three of his 34 homers in the regular season against southpaws, batting leadoff against Lloyd. It was as if the baseball gods had screamed, "You can't do that!" The next ball put into play, a soft line drive off the bat of Hayes, was hit to Klesko. He dropped it, allowing an insurance run to score. Batting against Lloyd in the bottom of the inning, Klesko whiffed. Wetteland came in for the final two outs.
When asked where the game turned, a bitter Cox mentioned a leadoff foul pop fly in the sixth inning with Atlanta ahead 6-0. Rightfielder Jermaine Dye overran the ball, which fell behind him and rightfield umpire Tim Welke. "Dye couldn't get around the umpire to catch the goddam ball," Cox said, although Dye had told Welke while taking the field in the seventh, "It's not your fault. I should have caught it."
In Game 5, the last game ever at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Cox had no one to blame for the 1-0 loss except his players. Grissom dropped a fourth-inning fly ball hit by Hayes after nearly colliding with Dye. Hayes, a former member of the last-place Pirates, scored on a double by Cecil Fielder, a former member of the last-place Tigers. Torre started Hayes and Fielder, both righthanded batters, against righthander Smoltz, benching struggling lefthanded hitters Boggs and Tino Martinez. Torre also allowed his pitcher, Andy Pettitte, to bat in the ninth inning with two outs and runners at first and third, and he put the potential winning run on base intentionally in the bottom of the inning. Of course, all of the moves worked. The game ended with a gimpy Paul O'Neill running down a fly by Luis Polonia in the gap in rightfield.
"He's been doing it all year," Cone said of Torre's deft moves. "Joe plays to win. He doesn't go by managing lore or by the supposed book. He does whatever he thinks he has to."