Yankees push up Hernandez Cuban rookie gets Game 2

underdog leash fits Bochy


October 17, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — NEW YORK -- Cuban sensation Orlando Hernandez, the 29-year-old rookie whose arrival in the United States and impact on the New York Yankees already has become the stuff of Bronx legend, yesterday went from starting Game 4 in the American League Championship Series to being handed the ball for Game 2 of the World Series.

Hernandez, 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 21 starts during the regular season, evened the ALCS at 2-2 by shutting out Cleveland on three hits through seven innings.

That performance, coupled with the struggles of left-hander Andy Pettitte and manager Joe Torre's desire to pitch David Cone in the warmth of San Diego, elevated Hernandez in the rotation.

"Game 4 was probably the most important game that we played against Cleveland, and he responded on the road with a lot of calm and very efficiently," Torre said. "We just feel that we wanted to pitch him up front."

Strawberry leaves hospital

Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry, looking thinner but saying he feels "great," left Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center yesterday following colon cancer surgery two weeks ago.

"It's been a difficult time, but now that time is over," he said. "As you can see, I've lost a lot of weight. But from my nurses to my doctors, they told me everything will come back."

The 36-year-old outfielder, an inspiration to his teammates, returned to his home in suburban New Jersey, where he plans to watch Game 1 tonight.

Underdog deja vu for Bochy

The last time San Diego manager Bruce Bochy experienced the thrill of a World Series, he was a catcher on the Padres' 1984 team that lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games. He's back after 14 years and once again confronted by an opponent that is being placed in the same company as some of the greatest teams of all time.

The Tigers ran away with the AL East, just as the Yankees did this season while winning a league-record 114 games. And the Padres again are heavy underdogs.

"We're going against a team that we know is going down in history," Bochy said. "I'd say it's similar."

There may be one difference, though. Unlike the '84 Padres, Bochy said his club isn't content just to have gotten this far.

"That was the first time San Diego had ever been to the World Series," he said. "A lot of the players have said, looking back, we wish we would have had a little bit different attitude instead of just saying, 'Hey, we're in the World Series.' This year you'll see the players out there playing to win."

Leyritz hasn't lost his way

Just because Jim Leyritz no longer plays for the Yankees doesn't mean he'll change the way he travels to the ballpark. He rode the subway to Yankee Stadium yesterday, his favorite mode of transportation while helping New York win the 1996 Series.

"I did it more for tradition's sake," he said. "I used to live in the city and I'd take the '4' train every day. My wife would drive to the game and I'd go home with her."

Leyritz asked for a trade after the Series so he could play more, and wound up in Anaheim and Boston before being dealt to the Padres this summer. Though saying he had no hard feelings toward the Yankees, Leyritz spewed venom at the mention of Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette.

"I think Dan Duquette blew it," he said. "I was sorry to see them lose because I have a lot of good friends there, but I'm pretty happy to be sitting here and I'm glad Dan Duquette is home."

Less pressure on Yanks?

Though their team batting average ranked near the top of the AL during the season, the Yankees are hitting only .229 in the playoffs.

Former Orioles manager Davey Johnson speculated in a USA Today story yesterday that the Yankees were putting pressure on themselves to reach the World Series and might start clicking now.

"I hope he is right," Torre said. "I felt we sort of eased a little bit of the pressure after we won Game 4 [in Cleveland]. However, this ballclub is very tough and they like to pressurize themselves all the time."

L Third baseman Scott Brosius didn't dismiss Johnson's theory.

"There's no question that there's a certain amount of pressure getting through the playoffs to get to the World Series," he said. "I think that maybe now that we're here and are on the doorstep, maybe we can relax a little bit."

A non-vote for The Boss

In a big victory for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, voters will have no say on the fate of a new Yankee Stadium.

A referendum on whether a $1 billion stadium should be built on Manhattan's West Side was knocked off the ballot for next month's election.

The pro-ballot side promised to appeal immediately.

Steinbrenner, whose lease at Yankee Stadium expires in 2002, wants a new home for his team. Giuliani, the self-described No. 1 Yankees fan, proposed the new stadium at a site where warehouses and rail yards now stand less than a mile south of Times Square.

The mayor wanted to keep the referendum off the ballot because it would almost certainly be defeated. Polls show the public opposes a new stadium for the Yankees outside the Bronx.

Pub Date: 10/17/98

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