10/05/2002 2:15 pm ET
Wells gets start for Yankees
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- David Wells feasts on challenges, his motor revved to a higher gear when cornered, and he will never face a bigger one than what awaits him this afternoon at Edison Field.
With New York facing an early exit from the 2002 postseason, Wells gets the ball at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) against the Angels, who lead their best-of-5 Division Series 2-1 and can secure the first postseason series win in their 42-year history.
Wells (19-7, 3.75) also gets the Yankees' vote of confidence, in his duel with Anaheim left-hander Jarrod Washburn (18-6, 3.15).
"I think he likes to be challenged," said manager Joe Torre, acutely aware that the left-hander had better love this one.
This is why Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, pulling rank on his front office and surprising everyone, no one more than Wells himself, offered him a contract last winter over lunch.
Time for dessert: Wells has to reverse New York starters' failures in this series; Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina have been abused for 12 runs in 12 2/3 innings. If he doesn't, the series could be over.
Wells, at 39 aware he may not have many more chances to feel the rush of his back pressing against the wall, relishes the dare.
"I'm not afraid to fail," he said. "That's my philosophy going in. If you are not afraid to fail, then what have you got to lose?"
He has the track record, an 8-1 record and 2.99 ERA in 10 postseason starts, even better (5-0, 2.50 ERA) with the Yanks.
The Angels, in stark contrast, meet him 0-6 all-time in potential postseason clinchers, losing out in both 1982 and 1986 after grabbing 2-0 and 3-1 leads on Milwaukee and Boston, respectively.
However, Vampire Wells is also up against a dire bit of personal history, both recent and long-term.
Even while leading the Yankees with 19 victories this season, he was a poor 1-3 with a 7.15 ERA in day games, today's conditions.
He hasn't enjoyed Edison Field any more than he has daylight. In 21 career games here against the Angels, he is 6-6 with a 6.89 ERA.
The Angels do not feel encouraged by Wells' history, nor daunted by their own.
"It's not over till it's over, to use a cliche from the other side," noted Scott Schoeneweis, borrowing from Yogi Berra. "But we've got the guy pitching that we want."
"Biggest game of my life," said Washburn. "So far. Hopefully, there will be bigger ones."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.