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Penny Says It All Makes Sense

Right-hander continues his remarkable World Series with his pitching and batting.

October 24, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Brad Penny has enjoyed a big postseason turnaround, going from a rotation outcast to possibly becoming the World Series most valuable player.

The right-hander has found success against the New York Yankees after appearing lost in the previous playoff rounds, and the Florida Marlins are benefiting from his change of fortune.

The good times continued Thursday night for Penny and the Marlins as they took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 6-4 victory at Pro Player Stadium.

By winning two of three in their ballpark, the Marlins could win the championship on Saturday night when the best-of-seven series shifts to Yankee Stadium for Game 6.

Penny led the way for the second time while relying on a 98-mph fastball. The 14-game winner, bumped from the rotation in the National League championship series after consecutive poor playoff starts, pitched seven strong innings (allowing one earned run) during the Marlins' final game of the season in South Florida.

And the career .143 batter helped himself with a two-run single in a three-run second. Penny, who developed a blister on his pitching hand in the seventh, received a thunderous ovation from a crowd of 65,975 as he retired Bernie Williams with the bases loaded to end the inning and his work.

After posting earned-run averages of 6.35 and 15.75, respectively, in the NL division and championship series, Penny is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two World Series starts. So, what happened?

"I had a bad day," Penny said of his starts against San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs. "Everybody has a bad day. I'm just glad they gave me another opportunity to go out there."

That was never in question, Manager Jack McKeon said.

"Everybody wanted to get down on the guy, we didn't," the 72-year-old manager said. "I had supreme confidence in this kid because I thought he's turned it around."

Penny turned around the Yankees on Thursday with a fastball clocked consistently between 95-98 mph.

He also mixed in sharp breaking balls and changeups, giving the Yankees more than they could handle.

"He just had a great fastball today," catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "It was an exploding fastball ... a lot of Yankee hitters swung at the high pitches he throws and it helps us a lot."

Penny has atoned for his earlier postseason problems, his batterymate said.

"He pitched good in the first game in this World Series too, and that's what we want from him," Rodriguez said. "We want six, seven, eight good innings from him.

"When he pitched against the Giants and the Cubs, he just got behind the hitters. In the World Series, he's been throwing strikes on both sides of the plate."

Marlin pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said the Yankee batting order is exactly what Penny needed to correct himself.

"He's facing a good team for him," Rosenthal said. "Some teams you match up good against, and some teams you don't match up good against. The Yankees are a good one for him."

Penny simply enjoys the results.

"It's a dream to pitch in the World Series and to beat a team like that," he said. "I've got the most respect in the world for them. I mean, you can't explain it."

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(Begin Text of Infobox)

Comeback Kids

Teams that have rebounded from a 3-2 deficit to win the World Series (x-denotes team that trailed 3-1):

*--* * 2002--Angels (AL) 4, San Francisco (NL) 3 * 2001--Arizona (NL) 4, New York (AL) 3 * 1991--Minnesota (AL) 4, Atlanta (NL) 3 * 1987--Minnesota (AL) 4, St. Louis (NL) 3 * 1986--New York (NL) 4, Boston (AL) 3 * 1985--Kan. City (AL) 4, St. Louis (NL) 3-x * 1982--St. Louis (NL) 4, Milwaukee (AL) 3 * 1979--Pittsburgh (NL) 4, Baltimore (AL) 3-x * 1973--Oakland (AL) 4, New York (NL) 3 * 1968--Detroit (AL) 4, St. Louis (NL) 3-x * 1958--New York (AL) 4, Milwaukee (NL) 3-x * 1952--New York (AL) 4, Brooklyn (NL) 3 * 1946--St. Louis (NL) 4, Boston (AL) 3 * 1940--Cincinnati (NL) 4, Detroit (AL) 3 * 1934--St. Louis (NL) 4, Detroit 3 * 1926--St. Louis (NL) 4, New York (AL) 3 * 1925--Pitt. (NL) 4, Washington (AL) 3-x * 1924--Washington (AL) 4, New York (NL) 3 * 1921--New York (NL) 5, New York (AL) 3 * 1903--Boston (AL) 5, Pittsburgh (NL) 3-x

*--*

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