Quick-wit Halama sets for first postseason start

  • KIRBY ARNOLD / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, October 10, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By KIRBY ARNOLD

Herald Writer

NEW YORK – If only John Halama can be as sharp with his pitches tonight as he was with his answers to the media on Tuesday.

Reporter: “Growing up in Brooklyn, were you a Yankees fan or a Mets fan?”

Halama: “Mets fan.”

Reporter: “How have you done against the Yankees in the past?”

Halama: “You guys have the statistics. Look at them.”

For elaboration, check back with Halama tonight.

The left-hander will pitch in the first postseason game of his career when he faces the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

How sharp he’ll be is an obvious concern of the Mariners because it’s been a while since Halama has gotten the ball.

He was scheduled to pitch in Game 4 of the Division Series against the White Sox before the Mariners clinched in three games. Halama, 14-9 with a 5.08 earned run average in the regular season, hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, when he was the winner in the Mariners’ 21-9 victory at Anaheim.

We may find out early whether the layoff has an adverse effect on a man who relies on feel with his offspeed pitches.

“I hope not,” Halama said. “I haven’t pitched since the second-to-last game of the regular season. I’ve thrown tons of bullpens. I think physically I’m as ready as possible. Mentally, I’m as ready as possible.”

Manager Lou Piniella has no worries, even though the site is Yankee Stadium and the setting is the postseason.

“We can talk to him before the ballgame,” Piniella said. “But I think he has a pretty good idea what to anticipate. It’s going to be a loud, ruckus crowd.”

The crowd has never seemed to rattle Halama, who is 2-0 against the Yankees this season, including an 8-5 victory at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 7. He was tagged for nine hits in 6 1/3innings of that game but didn’t allow more than one run in any inning.

He’ll take a repeat tonight.

“I’ve got to go out there and throw strikes, mix my offspeed pitches in and try not to get into multiple runs. Give up the single run, that’s fine. Give up two or three, now you’re asking a lot more from our offense.”

That would be fine with Piniella, who doesn’t expect the mystique of the Yankees or the stress of the postseason to make any difference to Halama.

Reporter: “Would you anticipate talking to Halama about what a postseason atmosphere might be like?”

Piniella: “Well, he’s from Brooklyn.”

Reporter: “But he said he never came here.”

Piniella: “Well, he pitched here this summer didn’t he?”

For elaboration, tune in tonight.

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