Yankees have history on their side
Oct. 04, 1997
CLEVELAND (AP) _ All the history wrapped up in the New York-Cleveland series will be apparent from the first pitch in Game 3 _ the ceremonial one by an old strikeout ace named Herb Score.
Score's promising career was all but ended when a line drive by the Yankees' Gil McDougald struck him in the face in 1957. Score, who still holds the AL record for strikeouts by a rookie pitcher, was never the same.
And some say the Cleveland Indians weren't the same for the better part of four decades after finishing second to the Yankees five times in the 1950s.
Cleveland fans have seen a happy ending against the Yankees only in the movie, ``Major League.'' Will they get one in real life?
The AL division series shifts to Cleveland tonight after the age-old rivals split the first two games at Yankee Stadium. New York lefty David Wells (16-10) will try to give a lift to a pitching staff smarting from the loss of David Cone to a shoulder injury. Charles Nagy (15-11) will try to avoid whatever caused his 0-3 record and 18.00 ERA against the Yankees this season.
``To me, Game 3 is the pivotal game,'' said Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose World Series victory ride last October began with a Game 3 triumph by Cone after the Atlanta Braves won the first two games.
The ties between these franchises go on and on.
Score, retiring after his 34th season as the voice of the Indians, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch tonight. He would like to avoid having his broadcasting career ended by the Yankees, too.
The Indians even have a visiting clubhouse worker known throughout baseball simply as ``DiMagg'' _ for his longtime friendship with one of the most famous Yankees of all, Joe DiMaggio.
True story: When DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak ended, DiMagg and DiMaggio walked together to the team hotel.
But enough history.
These modern Yankees have dominated the Indians in Cleveland with all the vigor of those old-time Bronx Bombers. The Yankees are 15-5 at Jacobs Field and have bombed Nagy every time they've faced him this season.
``I'm quietly confident,'' said Indians manager Mike Hargrove, unable to escape questions about the Yankees' dominance. ``We can't afford to dwell on stuff like that. For us, it's pretty much a non-issue.''
The Yankees got bad news on Friday when they learned Cone was lost for the rest of the series. Cone, who struggled in Game 1, was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday in Game 4 after feeling a ``snap'' in his ailing shoulder near the end of a 10-minute throwing session on Thursday.
Cone, one of baseball's top postseason aces, vowed to pitch out of the bullpen in an emergency. Yankees doctors were not so optimistic.
``The best case scenario is he could be back in the next round if the Yankees advance,'' team orthopedist Stuart Hershon said.
Even here, New York can point to a silver lining. Cone's replacement in Game 4, Dwight Gooden, is 5-0 in five career starts against the Indians.
Ah, but let's not forget about Game 3, which could be the best pitching matchup of the series.
When Wells was with Baltimore last year, he faced Nagy twice in the division series. The Orioles won both games and ousted the Indians in four.
The Game 4 matchup was brilliant, with Nagy striking out 12, only to watch Roberto Alomar hit a 12th-inning homer off Jose Mesa to end Cleveland's playoff run.
Wells was all business when he met the media Friday, just as he is on the mound in big games. He deflected one question about his wild reputation, fueled by near-fisticuffs with George Steinbrenner and pitching with a cap once worn by Babe Ruth.
``I don't think that's relevant to what we're trying to do here,'' Wells said. ``We're here for baseball, so we'll talk about baseball.''
Despite his record against New York, Nagy's teammates gave him a vote of confidence.
``There's nobody I'd rather see out there for us in a big game,'' Jim Thome said.
``I like Charlie in this situation,'' said Omar Vizquel, 4-for-8 in the series. ``He can go up to another level and pitch his best game.''
Marquis Grissom is expected to be in Cleveland's lineup despite badly bruising his right shoulder in Game 2. Hargrove said Yankees catcher Joe Girardi threw his catcher's mask and accidentally hit Grissom.
Torre did not announce his lineup, but Cecil Fielder should get his first swings of the series. ``Big Daddy'' is 16-for-48 (.333) career against Nagy. Chad Curtis is 3-for-35 (.086). Look for Tim Raines in left field and Fielder at DH.