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Torre manages Yanks to perfection

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NEW YORK -- As Game 1 of the World Series showed Saturday night and into early Sunday morning, everything Yankees manager Joe Torre does seems to work -- from the way he used Mariano Rivera to having Jose Vizcaino in the game from the beginning to the end almost five hours later.

Torre played Game 1 to win. He didn't hold back and go with a defensive approach. He didn't care that he brought Rivera into the game when the Yankees were down 3-2 in the ninth inning and pitched him for two innings. He used his bullpen brilliantly, getting great performances from Jeff Nelson early and then Mike Stanton late to close out the game, even though Stanton hadn't pitched since Oct. 6.

Things almost backfired in the seventh inning when Torre decided to leave starter Andy Pettitte in the game to face pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell with the bases loaded. But Torre probably thought, "What the heck?" Because Torre is using his pitching staff for the long haul, he wanted to get more out of Pettitte and allowed him to pitch to Trammell instead of going with Nelson.

The Mets, meanwhile, made several baserunning mistakes. The biggest one was Timo Perez assuming Todd Zeile's double off the left-field wall would be a home run. Before that, Mike Piazza got picked off in the fourth inning even though he knows Pettitte has the best pickoff move in baseball (he has 42 pickoffs in the last three regular seasons).

You can get away with mistakes against most teams, but not against the Yankees, who play the game with such skill and intelligence. Just look at two plays Derek Jeter made, one on a ball in the hole in the third inning off Edgardo Alfonzo with a runner on second base, and the other on his incredible relay to nail Perez at the plate.

But the Mets demonstrated tremendous heart. After Perez was thrown out and they gave up two runs on the David Justice double, the Mets turned around and scored three runs in the seventh. That says a lot about the Mets' character. We'd all be talking about how great the Mets are if Armando Benitez had closed the game in the ninth.

The two teams went back and forth and played a game of attrition. The Mets looked done in the 10th when the Yankees loaded the bases with one out. But they somehow survived when Paul O'Neill grounded into the double play.

I expect every game to be like Game 1, although maybe not as long. Now that the Yankees are up 1-0, Roger Clemens and Mike Hampton should come up huge, like Pettitte and Al Leiter did for nearly six innings in the opener. Don't be surprised if there's another one-run lead in the late innings Sunday night.

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