From The Cheap Seats

You really have no right to expect to win when you manage only two hits. When you add two walks and an error in one inning, it results in a 1-0 deficit for the Braves. The Braves are whining a bit about a shrunken strike zone in the 8th, along with a bad call on Chipper Jones' stolen base attempt in the seventh (are any calls at second going to go against the Yankees this month?). But the fact is that if they had fielded a bunt cleanly, they might have escaped the whole thing.

Here's the situation: up 1-0, Yankees have runners at first and second, no one out, and Derek Jeter on deck. Knoblauch bunts and the Braves seem to be in a defense designed to get a play at third. Brian Hunter, in for defense, races in, rushes the play to try and get the lead runner, and can't play the ball cleanly. So here's the question: why not just take the out they're giving you? You end up with second and third and one out, which lets you walk Jeter, the man you fear the most. Then you bring in Rocker to face O'Neill with the infield at double play depth, rather than pulled in. The same ball he bounced past a drawn in infield is at worst an out, leaving things tied, at best, a double play (O'Neill is very slow), and you get out of the inning. As Earl Weaver used to say, if the other guy is trying to make out, let him. In a Series as tight as this, every botched play takes on major proportions; that one could have been the Series right there.

One other thing was demonstrated in that game, the difference in the benches. The Braves have decent players on the bench, the Yankees get to bring up Darryl Strawberry. He is still scary, which explains that key walk. I assure you, the Braves putting Keith Lockhart up in that situation wouldn't result in a walk. It would probably result in a bunt.

A word has to be said about El Duque: unbelievable. Orlando Hernandez looked like a cross between Bob Gibson and Christy Mathewson. He kept them in the game in the face of a Greg Maddux gem, so when the break came, they were in position to win. Hats off, he may get an upgrade to El Rey before this series ends.


Hero of the Game: O'Neill -- he demonstrated the value of just hitting the ball in a key situation. This was more than Olerud and Ventura could do in the NLCS, and more than Tino Martinez could do in the face of John Rocker.

Goat of the Game: Brian Hunter

Pure Second Guess of the Game: how about bringing in Remlinger to face Strawberry, then going to Springer for Knoblauch and Jeter? I'm not saying I would've taken Maddux out there, but it defuses Darryl.

Reason for optimism for the Braves: the Yankees aren't hitting any better than they are

Reason for optimism for the Yankees: they're the Yankees, dammit.


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