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Yankees throw best stuff at Mets
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- Want to know why this World Series is so great? In Game 4, Joe Torre and Bobby Valentine were managing like it was Game 7.
It's funny: The Yankees lead the series 3-1, and it looks like the Mets are in trouble, but the Mets could have swept the series by now. That is why Torre was forced to manage Game 4 the way he did. He didn't want to win two out of three against the Mets if the series were tied 2-2. He wants to get rid of them.
In September, he used Mariano Rivera in two two-inning non-save situations in Boston to bury the Red Sox. I asked him about it, and he said, "I don't want to ever see Pedro Martinez in October. I don't want to see the Red Sox again. I want to get rid of them." And now he's managing like that again against the Mets. That sense of urgency is what makes this Yankee team, maybe in its last hurrah, so great.
In the fifth inning with two outs and no one on base, Torre seemed to say, "We have to win this game." So he brought in David Cone to pitch to Mike Piazza, who absolutely kills Denny Neagle. In his first at-bat, Piazza hit a foul ball that traveled about eight miles. And then he homered off Neagle in his second at-bat. Neagle didn't have any pitches to get Piazza out, and Torre made the great move for Cone, who got Piazza to pop out.
Like Torre, Valentine managed the game brilliantly. I don't think anybody could be critical of Valentine playing the infield back and letting Derek Jeter score on Luis Sojo's ground ball because who would have thought the game would end up 3-2 with Bobby Jones and Neagle pitching.
Valentine knew Glendon Rusch was throwing great and hitting between 89-91 mph on the gun. People make a big deal out of Jose Canseco pinch-hitting against Rusch in the sixth inning, but he had no chance of hitting Rusch's inside fastballs. Anyway, Rusch is 50 points better against right-handers than he is left-handers. In other words, Canseco was a good matchup for Rusch.
Valentine had the right guys at the plate against Mike Stanton when he sent up Bubba Trammell and Kurt Abbott in the seventh inning. But Stanton was throwing 95, and there was nothing they could do against him.
Statistically, Stanton is actually much better against right-handers. He had the second-worst average against left-handed hitters of any regular left-handed reliever in baseball. But he's pitching much better now than he did during the regular season. Like Rivera, Stanton really is a Mr. October because he has been great for three years. Also a big part of the drama and greatness of Game 4 were Jeter's first two at-bats. On the first two fastballs he saw in the game, he hit one for a leadoff homer to left and the other for a triple to right.
And the two plays Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo made were two of the best you'll ever see. On the first one in the fourth inning off the bat with Jorge Posada hitting, Alfonzo looked like a great point guard who skirts to the middle and flicks the ball off to the side to a forward cutting to the basket.
But in the end there's an old saying in baseball: In October, stuff wins. And that's exactly what happened; the Yankees' stuff won.
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