10/18/2004 1:53 AM ET
Pens' swinging gate an issue
Both pitching staffs ridden hard in long, tense ALCS
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
|Mike Timlin and the rest of the Red Sox bullpen have been worked hard. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
BOSTON -- Joe Torre and Terry Francona, both caught up in the drama of a suddenly tense ALCS, had to think of the here-and-now as Game 4 wound tighter.
But when the bullpen gates finally stopped swinging and Game 5 went from "if necessary" to "coming up," the managers' thoughts inevitably turned to "Now what?"
Well, for starters, everyone on both sides of Fenway Park will be counting on Monday afternoon's starters being long-winded.
With Monday's makeup of Friday night's rainout preempting the designated travel day, this ALCS will conclude without another scheduled day off.
So only Mike Mussina of the Yankees and the Sox's Pedro Martinez can keep Game 5 from turning into relievers' roulette.
Survivor and vanquished both exhausted their relief corps in Boston's 12-inning, 6-4 victory. But when starters Orlando Hernandez of the Yankees and Derek Lowe of the Red Sox left a tight game in the sixth inning, it was no time to squirrel relief arms.
Torre hoped that when it was all over he'd to be able to count on five days to chill out his Yankees bullpen for Saturday's start of the World Series.
And Francona feared his next wave to the pen might come in the Grapefruit League.
So the Yankees saddled up a quartet of relievers to hold Boston at bay until David Ortiz walk-off time. Tanyon Sturtze, Mariano Rivera, Tom Gordon and Paul Quantrill toiled six-plus innings and threw 99 pitches.
Rivera and Gordon -- who for a change appeared in that order as the game moved into extra innings -- both pledged to be ready on short rest.
And we do mean short: First pitch was to follow less than 16 hours after last pitch.
"I'll be there," Rivera wowed. "I'll be there -- no doubt about it. I've been there before. This is no different. I will be there."
And Gordon, finding no immediate comfort in his team's 3-1 edge, said, "Right now is do or die. I thank God that I feel good and I feel strong. I'll prepare myself for (today's) game and go from there."
|Boston and New York relievers combined for 12 2/3 innings in Game 4, tossing 233 pitches in the 12-inning contest:|
The Red Sox will be even more strapped in Game 5 since their closer, Keith Foulke, tendered 2 2/3 heroic innings in Game 4. He, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Mike Myers and Curtis Leskanic put in 6 2/3 innings and 134 pitches.
"I think if we'd done it any differently, we might not have made it," Francona said. "And we went through everybody in the bullpen.
"Good players, good pitchers. Timlin threw 38 pitches and will probably be back out there (Monday)."
As Ortiz's good-luck charm, if nothing else.
Two innings after Timlin served up Vladimir Guerrero's tying grand slam in Game 3 of the ALDS, Ortiz homered to bring Boston into the ALCS.
Sunday, six innings after Timlin allowed the Yankees to take a 4-3 lead, Ortiz homered to bring Boston to a Game 5.
New York pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre was seen in a brief postgame huddle with manager Joe Torre in the Yankees clubhouse, but afterward said the availablity of his relievers is undetermined.
"I won't know until tomorrow," Stottlemyre said. "I'll go around and talk to each of them individually, see where they are at."
Torre had absolutely no qualms about having called on Rivera at the start of the eighth. Two-inning saves have been a Rivera postseason staple.
Besides, leading 4-3, there was no one he would rather have face the core of the Boston lineup. Manny Ramirez was waiting to lead off the eighth, followed by Ortiz and Jason Varitek.
"The way the eighth inning was lining up, facing their three, four, five guys, I thought it was an opportunity for Mo (Rivera)," Torre said. "He was the only one available. He had not pitched in three days."
Now he might have to pitch twice within one day. Rivera, stern-faced, reiterated his intent to be ready Monday, when his shift would begin less than 24 hours after the last one.
"You have to come back," said Torre.
The manager meant his entire team having to return emotionally, not specifically to Rivera returning to the mound.
Although, in many ways, those two things are intertwined.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.