Marlins flatten flat Yanks, 3-2

Fleet Pierre gets Florida off, running in Game 1 as young team handles stage

Energy of Boston series missing

Bunt in first, 2-run single quiet Yankee Stadium

Willis, Urbina rise in relief

World Series

October 19, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Someone had better wake the New York Yankees.

The World Series started last night, and for most of Game 1, they looked fast asleep. Or perhaps it was just an extended hangover from that riveting American League Championship Series.

Whatever the case, the Florida Marlins spent the night introducing themselves to the Bronx as formidable challengers, meeting little resistance and showing no signs of being un-nerved.

Just like that, the World Series got interesting.

Using the same scrappy approach that helped them pull upsets in the first two rounds of the postseason, the Marlins got a big hit from Juan Pierre in the fifth inning and held on to steal a 3-2 victory before a lethargic crowd of 55,769 at Yankee Stadium.

Game 2 comes tonight, and the Yankees aren't about to fold. Since Joe Torre took over as their manager in 1996, they are 7-1 in postseason series after losing Game 1, including both of the first two rounds this year.

"It's not something we planned," Torre said. "I mean, it's nice that we've had this track record in these last two series, but we had so many opportunities [last night], it was certainly frustrating."

After leading off the first inning with a gutsy bunt single and scoring Florida's first run, Pierre came up in the fifth inning with the score tied 1-1. He got a fastball from Yankees starter David Wells, and lined a two-run, opposite-field single to left field.

Then the Marlins began that treacherous task of protecting a postseason lead in Yankee Stadium. So many other teams had failed trying in the past, with the Boston Red Sox becoming the latest victims last week.

Marlins starter Brad Penny had struggled in the postseason, posting a 10.24 ERA, but he turned in a much better effort last night, holding the Yankees to two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Florida manager Jack McKeon had an ace up his sleeve, and he played it with one out in the sixth. The Yankees had just trimmed the lead to 3-2, on Bernie Williams' 18th career postseason homer, which tied Williams with Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson for the major league postseason record.

Hideki Matsui followed with a single, and that's when McKeon turned to Dontrelle Willis, a 21-year-old rookie who took baseball by storm this season.

Willis started to look ordinary in the second half, and his postseason ERA was an unsightly 12.00 coming into the game.

But McKeon put him in the bullpen for this very reason, knowing there could be some very tough late-inning matchups against the stable of left-handed hitters for the Yankees.

Willis didn't disappoint. He retired the first seven batters he faced before Williams and Matsui delivered a pair of two-out singles in the eighth.

"He did a masterful job bailing us out of a couple of tough situations," McKeon said. "The way he handled those left-handed hitters, he looked like the Willis of old."

With two on in the eighth, McKeon turned to Ugueth Urbina, and he stranded runners at the corners, striking out Jorge Posada with a changeup to end the threat.

Urbina issued two walks in the ninth, but he struck out Alfonso Soriano and got Nick Johnson on a lazy fly.

"Maybe I'm too old, I guess, but I can't see why we should be awed," said McKeon, who at age 72 became the oldest manager in World Series history. "I don't know. We weren't awed in Chicago. We weren't awed in San Francisco. Why should we be awed in New York?"

The Stadium just wasn't the same. The buzz that had accompanied almost every pitch in the ALCS just wasn't there. Everyone seemed to be drained from the Yankees' dramatic, 11-inning win in Game 7 against Boston.

Florida who? When Penny took the mound for the first inning, some fans in the right-center-field bleachers unfurled a sign that said, "Where's Pedro?" That dig was aimed at Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez.

Yawn. The Florida what? But before long, the Marlins became a nemesis for the Yankee fans to take seriously.

New York tied the game on Derek Jeter's run-scoring single in the third inning, but Pierre put Florida back in front to stay.

After Jeff Conine walked and Juan Encarnacion singled, Alex Gonzalez' bunt moved the runners to second and third. Then Pierre lined his single to left.

"People sometimes overlook what kind of clutch hitter he is," McKeon said.

Marlins third base coach Ozzie Guillen, whose aggressive approach was huge for Florida in its Division Series win over San Francisco, applied the pressure again, sending Encarnacion home behind Conine without hesitation.

Matsui had the ball before Encarnacion touched third, but his momentum was carrying him into left-center field. Third baseman Aaron Boone cut off Matsui's throw in the infield grass and might have had a play on Encarnacion, but he tried making a throw behind Pierre at first instead. Pierre was safe, and Florida led 3-1.

Asked if he thought Boone had a play at the plate, Torre said, "I couldn't tell. I didn't ask because it wouldn't have changed anything."

World Series by the numbers

0 Postseason series lost by Marlins.

17 Ivan Rodriguez's team-high postseason RBIs.

4 Times Juan Pierre reached base last night.

59% How many Game 1 winners take World Series.

1996 Yankees' last home loss in World Series.

0-3 Yankees' Game 1 record this postseason.

Series glance

Yesterday's score

Florida 3, N.Y. Yankees 2 (Florida leads series 1-0)

Today's game

Florida at N.Y. Yankees, 8 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Starters: Marlins' Mark Redman (14-9, 3.71) vs. Yankees' Andy Pettitte (23-8, 3.96)

Postseason RBIs

With 17, the Marlins' Ivan Rodriguez is moving up this list of players with the most RBIs in one postseason:

No. Player, Team Year

19 Scott Spiezio, Anaheim 2002

19 Sandy Alomar Jr., Cleveland 1997

17 Ivan Rodriguez, Florida 2003

17 Rich Aurilia, San Francisco 2002

17 John Valentin, Boston 1999

16 Barry Bonds, San Francisco 2002

16 Benito Santiago, San Francisco 2002

16 Fred McGriff, Atlanta 1996

15 Moises Alou, Florida 1997

15 Bernie Williams, N.Y. Yankees 1996

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