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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS / AMERICAN LEAGUE | OAKLAND vs. N.Y.
YANKEES : NOTES

Clemens Isn't Rested, but He Says He's Ready

October 07, 2000|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

NEW YORK — Mike Hargrove gambled last October as Joe Torre will gamble this weekend. Sometimes it all works out, and there are no further questions, no dire consequences. Sometimes it backfires, and people like Hargrove, the former Cleveland Indian manager, lose their jobs.

With a two-games-to-one division series lead over the Boston Red Sox in 1999, Hargrove brought pitchers Bartolo Colon and Charles Nagy back on three days' rest for Games 4 and 5. The results were disastrous: Both starters were bombed in 23-7 and 12-8 losses, the Indians lost the series, and Hargrove was fired.

Torre will go out on a similar limb--though one that probably won't snap if it turns out badly--when he starts Roger Clemens in Game 4 tonight and Andy Pettitte in Game 5 Sunday, if necessary, on three days' rest.

Clemens, 38, has five Cy Young awards, but he hasn't started on three days' rest since 1993 and hasn't won on three days' rest since 1990. He has made nine regular-season starts on three days' rest, going 5-3 with a 4.12 earned-run average, and four playoff starts, going 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA.

Clemens believes that whatever he may lack in stamina he will make up for in adrenaline and emotion.

"If I'm on, I'll be aggressive," Clemens said. "I expect to be sharp. If I'm not, I'll find a way to get somebody out."

*

Perhaps taking a cue from Torre and Met Manager Bobby Valentine, whose lineup shakeups helped spark Game 2 victories for the New York teams, Oakland Manager Art Howe shuffled his order for Game 3 Friday night, moving hot-hitting third baseman Eric Chavez from his normal seventh or eighth spot to the cleanup spot behind Jason Giambi.

Ben Grieve, who replaced Matt Stairs in the fourth hole in Game 1 but went 0 for 7 in the first two games of the series, failing to hit a ball out of the infield, was dropped to seventh.

Chavez went four for seven in the first two games, but the 22-year-old is unaccustomed to hitting in such a key spot. He batted second once this season, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts against Cleveland on April 12, and he hit sixth once. Every other start has been in the seventh, eighth or ninth spots.

"I did a little research, and Chavez hit cleanup in high school or something, somewhere along the line," Howe joked. "Actually, against a right-hander [Orlando Hernandez] I thought Chavez was a better pick. If we were facing a lefty, it might have been Miguel [Tejada].

"I think Eric has the makeup to handle it. He's swinging the bat well. I want somebody in that slot who's going to give us a chance to score some runs . . . and hopefully Jason will get some pitches to hit."

Neither happened. Chavez followed walks to Giambi by popping out to the catcher in the third inning and grounding into a double play in the fifth, and he struck out to end the eighth.

*

Barry Zito, the 22-year-old left-hander who will start Game 4 tonight for the A's, on the pressure of pitching a playoff game in Yankee Stadium: "It's kind of like the college playoffs . . . just multiply that by 100."

Zito squared off against Clemens in Yankee Stadium on Aug. 8, giving up two runs--one earned--and three hits in 6 1/3 innings for a no-decision in Oakland's 4-3 loss, so he's familiar with the atmosphere.

"You're not pitching to the history, but you know about it," Zito said. "On the bench [Friday] night, I'll realize, 'Wow, this is insane. The playoffs, October, Yankee Stadium.' When I get on the mound, it's baseball."

*

Oakland center fielder Terrence Long suffered a deep bruise on his left knee fielding Luis Sojo's eighth-inning RBI single and is questionable for tonight.

THE SERIES

Game 1: Oakland 5, New York 3

Game 2: New York 4, Oakland 0

Game 3: New York 4, Oakland 2

Tonight: Oakland (Zito) at New York (Clemens), 4:30 p.m., Channel 4

* Sunday: New York at Oakland, 5 p.m., Channel 11

* If necessary All times PDT

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