Bronx bus blows by Padres so fast heads left spinning

October 19, 1998|By John Eisenberg

NEW YORK -- It took just two games at Yankee Stadium for the Padres to learn what the Orioles and the rest of the AL East learned during the season, and what the Rangers and Indians learned during the American League playoffs.

The Yankees are good. Wait, make that better than good.

Too good to beat? It's sure looking that way after their 9-3 win in Game 2 of the World Series last night.

"We're a confident club," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "This is the way we play."

One night after allowing the Padres a whiff of success in Game 1 -- a whiff quickly snuffed out by a fierce rally that may have turned the whole Series -- the Yankees trotted out their formidable killer instinct.

The Padres didn't have time to ponder another possible upset. The Yankees scored three unearned runs in the first inning, three more runs in the second, another in the third, two more in the fifth uncle!

They took one small break -- a throwing error by Padres third baseman Ken Caminiti in the first inning -- and converted it into an easy night.

Welcome to the 1998 AL East, Padres. Having fun yet?

"It's not the situation we hoped for," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

Yes, getting to the Series with emotional playoff wins over the Astros and Braves, two 100-win teams, was quite a feat.

But the Yankees are playing on another level, particularly with their potent bats back in business after slumping through the AL playoffs.

Sure, the Padres still have time to come back and make it a competitive series as the setting shifts to Qualcomm Stadium and San Diego's nutty fans. Remember, the Yankees came back to win the '96 Series after losing the first two games at home.

But is anyone betting such a turnaround is going to happen again? Not to a Yankees team that hasn't faltered all season.

The Padres are just going to have to settle for winning the National League pennant unless they can win four of the next five games against a Yankees team that has a 123-50 record and .711 winning percentage for the regular season and playoffs combined.

Good luck.

Last night's win came right off the blueprint the Yankees have followed all season. There was solid starting pitching from Orlando Hernandez, big-play defense featuring a run-saving catch by right fielder Paul O'Neill, and timely hitting -- five hits with runners in scoring position in the first three innings.

It was a clean, hard knockout, over in a hurry and almost bloodless.

Bochy, who seems intent on making all key pitching changes too soon or too late, left starter Andy Ashby in too long this time. Ashby was swallowed whole, allowing 10 hits and seven runs before leaving in the third.

Not that Ashby, whose career record before this season was 14 games under .500, is anyone's idea of a Game 2 starter on a Series-winning team.

Anyway, the game was so devoid of suspense that the zoo animals in the stands were almost quiet. They tried to insult the Padres, but their hearts weren't in it.

The more emotional game was the night before, when the Padres hit three homers off David Wells to take a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Yankee Stadium was quiet, and the Padres had every reason to believe their run of playoff magic was continuing.

Wrong. Bochy pulled ace Kevin Brown with one out in the seventh, even though Brown had only thrown 108 pitches. Brown later said he had a sinus condition and was tired, but it was still a terrible pitching change. Not only did Brown come out, but Bochy replaced him with bullpen filler instead of go-to guys. Someone named Donne Wall. Then a washed-up Mark Langston.

The result was two Yankees homers worth seven runs, topped off by Tino Martinez's grand slam. In one half-inning, the Yankees had gone from three runs down to four ahead and re-emphasized their knack for always finding a way to win.

The Padres were shattered. Their best chance in the series was for Brown to become another Bob Gibson and win three games. But Bochy didn't give Brown a chance, and now the Yankees can go up 3-0 before seeing Brown again. As it is, they're up 2-0 with David Cone set to start Game 3 tomorrow night. Tough stuff.

The Padres did have a chance to make things more interesting when they put two runners on base with one out in the top of the first last night. This was a chance to make a statement about not being knocked out by the Yankees' rally the night before.

But Hernandez struck out Caminiti, and then O'Neill made a leaping catch on a ball the Padres' Wally Joyner had hit to the top of the wall.

If O'Neill hadn't made the catch, the Padres would have taken a 2-0 lead and who knows what might have happened? But O'Neill's catch sent the message that the Yankees weren't going to relax at all.

They're good. Real good.

As the Padres have discovered in a hurry.

World Series

San Diego vs. New York Yankees

(Yankees lead 2-0)

Game 1: New York, 9-6

Last night, Game 2: New York, 9-3

Tomorrow: New York (Cone, 20-7, 3.55) at San Diego (Hitchcock, 9-7, 3.93), 8: 20 p.m.

Wednesday: New York (Pettitte, 16-11, 4.24) at San Diego (Hamilton, 13-13, 4.27), 8: 20 p.m.

Thursday*: New York at San Diego, 8: 20 p.m.

Saturday*: San Diego at

New York, 8 p.m.

Sunday* San Diego at

$ New York, 7: 55 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

*-If necessary

Pub Date: 10/19/98

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