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Matchup: Speed vs. NY pitching
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10/18/2003  8:13 PM ET 
Matchup: Speed vs. NY pitching
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Speedsters will test Yankees

Pierre
Juan Pierre
Castillo
Luis Castillo
The matchup: Florida Marlins No. 1 and No. 2 hitters, Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo, vs. Yankees pitchers.

Everyone seems to be comparing this year's Marlins team to last year's world champion Angels because of the ability to create runs with "little ball" at the top of the lineup and to harass opposing pitchers with constant motion on the basepaths.

It all starts here, with leadoff man Pierre and No. 2 hitter Castillo, who hope to serve as the engine to the Marlins' offense. Pierre hit .305 and stole 65 bases in the regular season. Castillo hit .314 and stole 21 bases. They've both cooled off a bit in the playoffs, which means they might be due to break out against a weary Yankees rotation.

The expectation: Pierre and Castillo will bunt, take pitches and do whatever they can to get on base early, and Yankees Game 1 starter David Wells will be aware of it but might not be able to have the time to react.

If Pierre and Castillo continue their slightly substandard postseason hitting (Pierre is batting .288, Castillo .244), the Yankees will be fine. If not, watch out.

The result: Pierre was all over the field, and by the time the Yankees knew what had hit them, it was too late. The Marlins' catalyst reached base four times, drove in two runs, stole a bag and sparked Florida to a huge win.

Castillo did his part in setting the tone in the first inning by singling Pierre to third, but otherwise he was held in check on a 1-for-5 night.

The Marlins' pitching did the rest, with Brad Penny giving them 5 1/3 two-run innings and Dontrelle Willis and Ugueth Urbina shutting down New York in the last 3 2/3.

 Juan Pierre bunts his way on base: 56K | 300K

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have not seen team speed like this.

The Florida Marlins, tabbed as an upset possibility in the 2003 World Series because of their ability to bunt, steal and agitate opponents on the basepaths, lived up to their reputation in Game 1 in Yankee Stadium and did it right away.

In the end, it was an upsetting result for the Yankees, who lost, 3-2, and fell behind 1-0 in the Series.

Speedy leadoff man Juan Pierre, who hit .305 and stole 65 bases during the regular season, set the tone for the Marlins' attack by laying down a perfect bunt single to open the game.

No. 2 hitter Luis Castillo, who hit .314 and stole 21 bases in regular-season play in 2003, followed with a bloop single that pushed Pierre to third.

The Marlins scored the first run of this year's Fall Classic a batter later when Pudge Rodriguez delivered a sacrifice fly, and the Marlins had convinced any possible naysayers that the Yankees will have to contain these greyhounds if they're going to take home a 27th ring.

"They're a good ballclub," Yankees slugger Jason Giambi said. "They make things happen. They do a nice job of manufacturing runs."

Especially Pierre, according to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

"Hopefully Pierre doesn't get on base [anymore]," Jeter said. "He's the catalyst. He bunted for a single, got on base all night, and that was the difference right there."

It's hard to remember a World Series team having as much speed as the Marlins possess. The St. Louis Cardinals of the 1980s had it, and they rode it to a world title in 1982 and a pennant in 1985.

Those St. Louis teams had speedsters Vince Coleman, Lonnie Smith, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee spraying the ball all over the Busch Stadium carpet.

    Juan Pierre   /   CF
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 180
Bats/Throws: L/L

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Marlins site

These Marlins have Pierre and Castillo legging out bunt hits, stealing bases left and right, and wearing out the vast gaps in Pro Player Stadium, a triple hitter's paradise.

In short, they're the catalysts for an offense that piled on runs throughout the seven games of Florida's National League Championship Series upset over the Chicago Cubs, and they did it again in Game 1.

To top it off, the Marlins got a key two-run single from Pierre in the fifth inning after Jeff Conine had worked a leadoff walk, Juan Encarnacion singled him to second and Alex Gonzalez advanced both runners with a perfect sacrifice bunt.

Pierre gets the game ball for reaching base four times (two singles, a hit-by-pitch and a walk), stealing a bag and sparking the Fish to a crucial road win.

David Wells did his job for the Yankees, limiting the Marlins to three runs through seven innings on short rest.

But the Marlins offense did its job better, and it all started with that signature speed.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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