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Role reversal for 'El Duque'
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Division Series
10/03/2002 02:35 am ET 
Role reversal for 'El Duque'
Hernandez starts strong, falters in eighth
By Ian Browne /

Joe Torre's reasoning was sound even if El Duque's fastball wasn't, according to Laura Vecsey. (Bill Kostroun/AP)
NEW YORK -- Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez came out of the Yankees bullpen with baffling stuff in Game 2 of the Division Series Wednesday night.

And his timing couldn't have been any better.

This was a bad -- and surprisingly short -- night for left-hander Andy Pettitte.

After Pettitte's three innings put the Yankees in a 4-0 hole, Joe Torre went to a weapon few managers could possibly have lurking in long-relief duty.

El Duque, who took a 9-2 postseason record in this one, couldn't crack the playoff rotation.

Only, of course, because the Yankees have a collection of other stalwarts in Roger Clemens, Pettitte, Mike Mussina and David Wells.

If Duque felt jilted, he took it out on the Angels. He was perfect his first three innings, and allowed only an infield single in the seventh.

His effort kept the Yankees in there long enough to turn that 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 lead. Hernandez was on his way to yet another big performance when it counted most.

    Orlando Hernandez   /   P
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Yankees site

It turns out, though, that he never got there.

The eighth started horrifically, with Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus hitting back-to-back blasts over the wall.

Just like that, Torre came out to remove Duque.

Despite his valiant effort, it wasn't quite enough. Hernandez was the losing pitcher as the Yankees fell 8-6.

Hernandez didn't blame the eighth inning meltdown on fatigue. Nor should he have. He is, after all, still in starter's shape.

"(Torre) asked me how I felt, I said I felt fine," Hernandez said through a translator. "Things don't always occur the way you want them to. At the same time, I'm not disappointed in my job or my effort. I'm proud of the job I did."

Despite the end result, he had every right to be proud. The Yankees wouldn't have been hanging around in the late innings if not for his brilliance in the middle portion.

"He had great command," Torre said. "It was just one of those things, you know."

El Duque was in no mood to go over exactly what turned his performance around so quickly.

"Nothing, two swings, and they hit homer runs," Hernandez said. "Two pitches that I threw unfortunately cost the team. Overall, I'm proud of my effort and my job."

He did give the Yankees hope on a night they looked flat early.

"The way El Duque was pitching, you think (a comeback) is going to happen," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "But those guys don't give up. They continued to battle. They continued to fight off some quality pitches and they came up with some big home runs."

In the process, the Angels destroyed what would have been a big night for El Duque and the Yankees.

Ian Browne is a reporter for He can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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