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Torre Shuffle May Not Be Perfect but Yankees Win

October 05, 2000|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

New York Yankee Manager Joe Torre tried to downplay the significance of his lineup shake-up for Game 2 against the Oakland A's Wednesday night, but some detected a hint of panic in his moves.

Torre benched leadoff batter Chuck Knoblauch and moved No. 2 hitter Derek Jeter to the leadoff spot, catcher Jorge Posada moved from seventh to second, left fielder David Justice moved from fifth to third, and power-hitting Glenallen Hill batted seventh as the designated hitter.

The most drastic move was to drop struggling right fielder Paul O'Neill from the third to the sixth spot. It marked the first time since Sept. 4, 1997, that O'Neill, who hasn't had an extra-base hit since Sept. 6, has batted sixth or lower.

"I didn't write the lineup," said O'Neill, who before the game seemed upset about the switch but reluctant to talk about it. "It's just a different lineup. We're not scoring runs, period."

The Yankees lost eight consecutive and 16 of their last 19 games entering Wednesday night's game, and they managed only seven hits in Game 1 Tuesday night.

"We're doing it to sort of rearrange the furniture, try to get something going," Torre said before the game. "It doesn't mean that if we win [Wednesday] night we're married to it. We're trying to stir something up. When you get to postseason play, your patience level is not what it is during the regular season."

Torre said he mentioned the revamped lineup to owner George Steinbrenner when they talked on the phone before the game.

"Come to think of it, I told him I was shaking things up and he said, 'Good.' That was basically it," Torre said. "That was his only comment at that point."

After Wednesday, the jury was still out on the lineup switch.

The Yankees ended up with only one more hit than Tuesday but turned that into four runs for a victory Wednesday.

Jeter was 0 for 5 at leadoff; O'Neill was 0 for 2, with two walks and a run scored, and Hill broke up a scoreless game with a run-scoring single and Luis Sojo followed with a two-run double as the Yankees scored three in the sixth.

The hits by Hill and Sojo came with two out and immediately after an intentional walk to struggling O'Neill.

"It was Art's decision," Oakland starter Kevin Appier said. "O'Neill's been tough on me, but I've had pretty good success with Glenallen Hill. He was going on percentages there."


Could a case of the yips be contagious? That's what Yankee followers were no doubt thinking Tuesday when A's second baseman Randy Velarde, doing his best--or would that be worst?--Chuck Knoblauch impression, threw high and wide to first on Knoblauch's routine grounder in the seventh inning of Game 1.

Velarde's throw wasn't as bad as some of Knoblauch's--the Yankee second baseman tossed one ball into the seats behind first this season--but it pulled first baseman Jason Giambi off the bag and allowed Knoblauch to reach on the error. Relievers Jeff Tam and Jim Mecir, however, retired the next two batters, and the A's went on to a 5-3 victory.

"Holy cow, was I [ticked off] after that," Velarde said Wednesday. "I could have made that throw blindfolded. It's a good thing Tam and Mecir picked me up. . . . I've never had those kinds of problems. But some of the New York writers were telling our guys that they had Knoblauch's psychiatrist's number if I needed it."

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