Good news: M’s facing Neagle today

  • BOB BOLERJACK / Sports Editor
  • Saturday, October 14, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Sports Editor

SEATTLE – In a strange way, the New York Yankees’ victory Friday night might have given the Seattle Mariners a ray of hope today in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

Friday’s win in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series ensured that the Yankees wouldn’t be facing possible elimination today. That convinced manager Joe Torre that his starting pitcher today would be Denny Neagle, whom the Mariners beat 2-0 in Game 1 on Tuesday.

Had the Yankees lost Friday night, Torre might have gone today with Orlando Hernandez on just three days’ rest.

Hernandez is 7-0 for his career in playoff games, and dominated the Mariners in the Yankees’ 7-1 victory Wednesday in Game 2.

“If there is a Game 6 and a Game 7, I would rather have El Duque (Hernandez) and (Andy) Pettitte at full strength in those two games,” Torre said Saturday.

“And the reason I was hesitant about naming a Game 5 starter, I’m not sure what I would have done if we were down 3-1. I’m not saying it would not have been Neagle, but I can’t tell you for sure.”

Seattle will go with Freddy Garcia, who won Game 1 with 6 2/3shutout innings and eight strikeouts.

Both pitchers will have had the standard four days of rest.

Neagle, 32, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in July, was a disappointing 7-7 with a 5.81 earned run average for New York during the regular season. The Yankees avoided using him at all in the five-game Division Series against Oakland.

Trailing 3-1 in the series, the Mariners are in a huge hole. Even if they beat Neagle today, they’ll face the ominous task of facing a well-rested Hernandez in a must-win Game 6. Seattle would start John Halama if there is a Game 6.

If they somehow win that game, they’ll have to beat Pettitte in Game 7. Aaron Sele would start that game for Seattle.

Garcia, who will be starting his third postseason game today, struggled in his Game 1 start against Chicago in the Division Series and in some late-season starts. Manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Bryan Price said Garcia had gotten too excited before those games.

Garcia, 24, said that won’t happen today.

“I don’t have pressure,” he said Saturday. “I go pitch my game and try to be myself, and do the best I can.

“Try to win, that’s all I can do.”

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