56k | 300k
NEW YORK -- Curt Schilling was the featured performer heading into Game 5, but Orlando Hernandez put on quite a sideshow.
"El Duque" matched his Arizona counterpart pitch for pitch, keeping the Yankees in a 1-1 pitchers' duel into the seventh inning.
|After their third-inning tiff, Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernandez (right) and plate umpire Ed Rapuano chatted briefly upon Hernandez's exit from the game.
Hernandez, who struggled through the 2001 season with injuries and inconsistency, made his final start of the season in a game the Yankees all but needed to win. Schilling going on three days' rest made the task tougher -- not that Hernandez felt that he would have an easy time with the D-Backs lineup.
"They're a good team. They can hit, they can run, that's how they're here in the World Series," said Hernandez through a translator. "Any time we go against a good team and I have to battle, I'm more than ready to. I'm glad I got the opportunity to pitch this game."
His teammates were glad he got to pitch as well. Hernandez held Arizona to just one run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings, keeping his team in the game while Schilling dominated New York's lineup. The Yankees went on to win the game 4-3 in 10 innings, after Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter hit game-tying and game-winning home runs.
"When you're going against a good pitcher and a good team, you always have to be strong and aggressive and on top of your game," Hernandez said. "I've faced pitchers like Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux before, and I approached this game like I did those. Schilling's right in that group, so I knew I would have to battle going against one of the best."
Hernandez struggled with his control early, battling wildness and umpire Ed Rapuano's inconsistent strike zone. He loaded the bases with one out in the opening frame, but struck out Matt Williams and got Steve Finley to pop up to Scott Brosius, escaping the inning without any damage.
"The first inning, Duque comes in and gets out of the bases-loaded jam, you come to the dugout feeling like it's the fifth inning already," said Paul O'Neill. "You're mentally trying to stay in every pitch. He kept us close, threw a great game. It's two teams fighting now, we're in a three-game series now."
Hernandez almost lost his cool in the third inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Hernandez started to shout after home plate umpire Ed Rapuano called a ball. Rapuano, working his first Series game, started to walk toward the mound, shouting back at Hernandez. Tino Martinez ran to stop Hernandez, as Manager Joe Torre came out to talk to Rapuano, calming the scene before his pitcher got tossed from the game.
"I wasn't saying anything to the umpire," Hernandez said. "I was aggressive, and when I am aggressive and I see someone screaming at me, I have to scream back. That's part of my character, the way I am. I didn't have anything to say at him, I was mad at myself for not making the pitches. I wasn't able to communicate with him because I don't speak English, and Jorge explained that to him."
Shane Spencer's solo home run in the third gave Hernandez a lead, but El Duque gave it right back in the fourth, as Mark Grace crushed a 3-and-1 offering into the upper deck, tying the contest at 1-1.
"That really bothered me when I made the mistake to Grace," Hernandez said. "They had given me a one-run lead, I had just gotten the double-play ball and I relaxed a little bit. Then he hit the home run. There are moments, and there are moments."
In the fifth, Spencer came to the aid of his starter once again. The left fielder threw out Tony Womack at home plate on Luis Gonzalez's fly ball.
Hernandez was lifted from the game in the seventh with runners on first and second, but Mike Stanton induced a 4-6-3 double play by Womack, keeping the game tied.
"I am pleased with the job I did," Hernandez said. "But I am even happier that the team won. We were down 2-1 in the World Series at Yankee Stadium. It doesn't get much bigger than this. This is one of the most exciting games I've been in."
"Duque's always going to keep us in a game," said Luis Sojo. "He's been doing it for so long now, pitching huge games for us in the postseason and the World Series."
El Duque did so again on Wednesday. And if he's needed at a later point in the series, he said he'll be there for his team.
"I'm ready," said Hernandez. "I'm ready for tomorrow. Game five, six, seven -- whatever they need."
Mark Feinsand is the site reporter for yankees.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.