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Neagle gets call for Yanks


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 10, 2000

NEW YORK -- He'd rather, from the sound of it, send David Cone out there if he was healthy. Or Orlando Hernandez, if he wasn't tired. Instead, Joe Torre will send Denny Neagle out to start tonight's opening game for the Yankees.

Neagle didn't pitch well for the Yankees in the final month of the season, posting a 15.18 ERA in his final three starts, and he didn't pitch at all in the five division series games against Oakland.

But tonight he's the best they have and, quite frankly, he's all they have.

"From the physical aspect, I think Denny Neagle is best equipped right now," Torre said.

Neagle put on a brave front Monday, insisting he'd worked out his problems (they were mechanical), that he wasn't miffed at being skipped in the first-round, that he would have no problems going 12 days between starts even though Torre is concerned that he might be "too strong" to keep his sinker down.

Further, the left-hander acquired in midseason from Cincinnati, struggled in his one start against the Mariners this season (allowing seven runs and 10 hits in 52/3 innings) and, as a feel-type pitcher, he may well be at a disadvantage pitching in the cold weather tonight.

"This is why they got me," Neagle said. "The biggest reason they got me was to pitch in big games in the post-season. I had that in mind that I hopefully was going to get a chance to pitch in a game like this, and now I've got that opportunity."

After Neagle, the Yankees will use Hernandez, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.

ON THE OTHER HAND: The Mariners will start 24-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia, who went 5-1 down the stretch but got knocked out in the fourth inning of the division series opener. Garcia didn't face the Yankees this season.

In the second game, The Mariners will use 28-year-old lefty John Halama, another second-year big-leaguer. "We need for them to settle down and throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "But they have the equipment. Both Freddie and John will pitch good ballgames if they are pitching their games."

GOTTA GO TO MO: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has been close to untouchable in the post-season, rolling up 302/3 consecutive scoreless innings and posting an 0.34 ERA overall. But the Mariners have an edge. DH Edgar Martinez is 9-for-11 in his career against Rivera.

MISCELLANY: The series is a rematch of the wild 1995 division series, when the Yankees won the first two games and the Mariners the next three. ... Temperatures are expected to drop to the mid-40s late tonight. ... The Mariners went 3-1 at Yankee Stadium this season. ... This is the Yankees ninth trip to the ALCS; they've won the pennant eight times. ... The Hirschbeck brothers (John and Mark) will both be in the umpiring crew.

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