World Series 2001 |
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World Series 2001
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10/31/2001 05:31 AM ET
Browne: Knoblauch isn't getting it done
NEW YORK -- In the aftermath of Game 3 of the World Series, Yankees Manager Joe Torre said that he hadn't yet considered any lineup changes for Game 4. Naturally, he was still glowing about the 2-1 victory that revived his team's hope of winning a fourth consecutive world championship.

Well, here's an unsolicited opinion for Torre. There's an obvious lineup move to be made. One that can bring a spark back to an offense that has produced a meager total of three runs in the first three games.

It's time for the Yankees to find a new leadoff hitter. Chuck Knoblauch isn't cutting it. The veteran is 0-for-12 in the series. The only thing he is leading is fruitless innings, of which there have been plenty for the Yankees.

Not that Knoblauch's struggles should be a huge surprise. He hit a career-low .250 this season.

It would make sense to replace him even if Torre didn't have the perfect alternative lined up.

But in Derek Jeter, normally the No. 2 hitter, that's exactly what the Yankees have.

Torre has put Jeter in the leadoff hole numerous times in recent seasons -- including this one -- when his lineup has needed a lift. Almost always, Jeter has obliged.

True, Jeter has struggled (1-for-13) nearly as much as Knoblauch in this series. But a trip to the leadoff hole might be just what Jeter -- the Yankees' most important everyday player -- needs to get going.


He provided one of the biggest hits in last year's World Series, a leadoff homer in Game 4 at Shea Stadium. The Yankees had lost Game 3, but Jeter's blow seemed to immediately turn momentum back in the other direction.

By keeping Knoblauch out of the lineup, Torre has plenty of left field and DH options. What would make the most sense is keeping Shane Spencer -- who made a great catch in Game 3 -- in left, and putting David Justice in the DH slot.

With red-hot righty Curt Schilling going for the Diamondbacks, Torre could have his best power sources all in the lineup for the first time in the series.

"I'm really not even thinking about the lineup (for Game 4)," Torre said. "We are capable of doing it (offensively). We have not done it."

By taking out Knoblauch and leading off Jeter, maybe they finally will do it and give one of their starting pitchers -- in this case Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez -- some slack with which to work.

Who's Sizzling: Mariano Rivera. The prolific closer continues to prove that he is an October machine. A well-rested Rivera was dominant in saving Game 3. He struck out four and didn't allow a baserunner in two innings. In these playoffs, he's surrendered one earned run in 11 2/3 innings.

Who's Fizzling: How about some offense from Tino Martinez? The Yankees' leading run producer during the regular season is 0-for-7 in the World Series.

Fearless Prediction: Everyone is wondering how healthy El Duque Hernandez is and whether he can match some of his October heroics from previous years. The Cuban defector will answer all those questions with a gem in Game 4. Will it be enough to beat Curt Schilling? Depends on the sagging Yankees' offense.