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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS | WORLD SERIES

First Look

October 18, 2000|PAUL GUTIERREZ

TV--Ch. 11; *--if necessary (All times Pacific)

* Batting: The Yankees batted .250 while taking four of six interleague games from the Mets, with shortstop Derek Jeter batting .407. The Mets hit Yankee pitching at a .240 clip, with left fielder Benny Agbayani batting .333. The biggest hit of the interleague Subway Series, though, was Yankee starter Roger Clemens tagging Met catcher Mike Piazza in the helmet, igniting a summer-long simmering war of words. Advantage: Yankees.

* Starting pitching: With David Cone, Clemens and Dwight Gooden on the roster, the Yankee rotation would have been unhittable . . . in the late 1980s. Clemens, though, looked like his previous dominant self in Game 4 of the AL championship series with a 15-strikeout one-hitter against Seattle. Left-hander Andy Pettitte has more guts than stuff of late while Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez continues his postseason mastery for the Yankees. The Met rotation is at its best when a left-hander, either Al Leiter or Mike Hampton, is pitching, especially with the glut of left-handed Yankee hitters. Rick Reed and Bobby J. Jones, his one-hitter against the Giants in the division series notwithstanding, are passable, though Jones was beaten twice by the Yankees this year. Advantage: Mets.

* Bullpen: For the Yankees, it begins and ends with closer Mariano Rivera, who had his string of 33 1/3 innings of scoreless postseason relief end against Seattle. He picked up three saves in interleague play against the Mets this year, giving up one hit in three innings. There may still be some bad blood between Met closer Armando Benitez and the Yankees. Benitez, while with the Baltimore Orioles, hit Yankee first baseman Tino Martinez in his back in 1998, starting one of the ugliest baseball brawls in recent memory. Advantage: Yankees.

* Bench: Neither team has a deep bench, though neither team has really needed one on the way to the first Subway Series since 1956. The Yankees' most versatile bench player is a former Dodger who found new life in the Bronx in Jose Vizcaino. Plus, the Yankees have dangerous pinch-hitters who can change the score with one swing in Glenallen Hill and Jose Canseco (if activated). The Mets' best bench player is now starting in right field, with exciting Timo Perez taking over for the injured Derek Bell. Otherwise, the Mets can merely trot out a faceless and uninspiring group of utility players in Kurt Abbott, Matt Franco, Lenny Harris, Joe McEwing, Todd Pratt and Bubba Trammell. Advantage: Yankees.

* Managers: Bobby Valentine has seemingly replaced Joe Torre as the toast of New York after out-managing the San Francisco Giants' Dusty Baker and the St. Louis Cardinals' Tony La Russa en route to the Mets' first World Series appearance since 1986. Meanwhile, many have said that anyone could have managed the Yankees to their recent success. But Torre's laid-back style has worked in this year's playoffs, what with the defending champs on the verge of a third consecutive title after limping into the postseason with a seven-game losing streak. Advantage: Yankees.

SCHEDULE

Game 1: Saturday, New York Mets at New York Yankees, 5 p.m.

Game 2: Sunday, Mets at Yankees, 5 p.m.

Game 3: Tuesday, Yankees at Mets, 5:15 p.m.

Game 4: Wednesday, Oct. 25--Yankees at Mets, 5:15 p.m.

Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 26--Yankees at Mets, 5:15 p.m.*

Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 28--Mets at Yankees, 5 p.m.*

Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 29--Mets at Yankees, 5 p.m.*

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