Rain washes Rogers into rotation Yankees had planned to use struggling lefty to beef up their bullpen

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- The heavy rain that washed out the opener of the American League Championship Series did not change the immediate pitching plans of New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, but it could work to his disadvantage in a number of ways.

The first three starters in the Yankees' rotation remain in place, but the loss of the day off tomorrow has forced Torre to put struggling Kenny Rogers back into the mix. He'll face Orioles rookie Rocky Coppinger in Game 4 on Saturday rather than giving the Yankees an extra left-hander out of the bullpen.

The way that Rogers has pitched recently -- aside from 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Orioles Sept. 19 -- that could turn out to be a big plus for the Orioles, but Torre said he was comfortable with the situation.

"Davey [Johnson] probably feels the same way," Torre said. "You have no control over the weather. You can't sit around wishing what you want it to be. Things happen for a reason, and this might turn out for the best."

It's difficult to see how it could benefit the Yankees. Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte already was set to work on long rest yesterday, and now will have a full week between postseason starts. That could affect his control, because he was unable to throw on the side during the Division Series.

The Yankees had to keep him ready as an emergency long reliever against Texas, so he has had little opportunity to maintain his normal pitching routine.

"My concern is just my control," Pettitte said yesterday. "I hate walking people. I hate not being sharp. You don't want to go out there and struggle with your control, but that doesn't matter now. You just have to go out and find a way to do it."

Pettitte pitched well in five appearances against the Orioles during the regular season, going 3-0 with a 3.76 ERA in four starts and one relief stint. But Torre scheduled him ahead of right-hander David Cone largely because Pettitte was in the best shape to pitch three times in the series.

Now, that will be impossible. Pettitte still will have to go on three days' rest Sunday, but he will pitch in Game 5 instead of Game 4. Cone will remain on normal rest after tomorrow's start because there still is a day off before Game 6.

Nevertheless, Torre is more concerned about the impact that the loss of the day off will have on the bullpen, because it could diminish his flexibility later in the series if his late-inning guys get a lot of work in the first two games.

"If there is an upside," Torre said, "we've got a few guys with sore throats who will have another day to get better."

Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams didn't seem happy about it. He was eager to get back on the field and who wouldn't be after the performance he turned in during the Division Series.

"I think the pitchers will be happy, because they get an extra day of rest," Williams said. "Some of the guys like me, it's just an extra day of anticipation."

In a way, the loss of the day off means that the series will more closely simulate the regular season. The built-in rest in the postseason allows teams to consolidate their pitching, which dilutes the advantage of the better-pitching team. If the Yankees' rotation was in midseason form -- with Rogers and Dwight Gooden pitching well -- the rainout clearly would benefit New York.

However, Torre would have preferred to beef up the bullpen and go with Rogers in Game 4 only if the Yankees were well ahead, but he seems confident his club will maintain its pitching edge.

"It's all going to come down to getting out of the box," Torre said. "It's not as urgent as a five-game series, but there's still a lot of emphasis on doing things now."

Game 1 matchup

Yankees' Andy Pettitte (0-0, 5.68 ERA)

vs. O's Scott Erickson (0-0, 4.05 ERA)

What Pettitte throws: He has three tough fastballs; most prominent is his cutter, which breaks like a slider. He can also change speeds and has a tough curveball.

Pettitte of late: Excluding an end-of-season tuneup, he's lasted at least six innings in his last 10 starts, and pitched into the eighth inning or later in four of those starts. He hasn't yielded more than four earned runs since early August.

Something to look for: Pettitte is prone to giving up a big inning now and then, but if he can limit the damage, as he did against the Texas Rangers in the Division Series, he'll be tough to beat.

Orioles vs. Pettitte (career stats):

................. Avg. .. AB .. H .. HR .. RBI

B. J. Surhoff ... .533 .. 15 .. 8 ... 0 .... 3

Eddie Murray .... .438 .. 16 .. 7 ... 0 .... 5

Bobby Bonilla ... .438 .. 16 .. 7 ... 1 .... 4

Manny Alexander.. .333 ... 3 .. 1 ... 0 .... 0

Brady Anderson .. .333 .. 15 .. 5 ... 0 .... 0

Cal Ripken ...... .267 .. 15 .. 4 ... 0 .... 0

Roberto Alomar... .250 ... 8 .. 2 ... 0 .... 0

Rafael Palmeiro.. .250 .. 20 .. 5 ... 1 .... 4

Chris Hoiles .... .200 .. 10 .. 2 ... 1 .... 1

Mike Devereaux .. .100 .. 10 .. 1 ... 0 .... 1

Mark Parent ..... .000 ... 2 .. 0 ... 0 .... 0

Bill Ripken ..... .000 ... 5 .. 0 ... 0 .... 0

Todd Zeile ...... .000 ... 4 .. 0 ... 0 .... 1

What Erickson throws: He's a sinkerball pitcher in the purest sense. He also mixes in some fastballs, but everything is down, down, down.

Erickson of late: He has been terrific in the last month of the season, going 4-1 with a 3.42 ERA since he began working with personal catcher Mark Parent, including a playoff start.

Something to look for: He isn't always confident in his stuff, especially early in the game, but Erickson traditionally gets stronger as the game progresses. If the Yankees are pounding everything into the infield, then Erickson is on.

Yankees vs. Erickson (career stats):

................... Avg. .. AB ... H .. HR .. RBI

Mike Aldrete ...... .370 .. 27 .. 10 ... 0 .... 3

Wade Boggs ........ .349 .. 43 .. 15 ... 0 .... 4

Mariano Duncan .... .222 ... 9 ... 2 ... 0 .... 0

Tony Fernandez .... .278 .. 18 ... 5 ... 0 .... 1

Cecil Fielder ..... .217 .. 46 .. 10 ... 0 .... 7

Joe Girardi ....... .250 ... 4 ... 1 ... 0 .... 2

Charlie Hayes ..... .286 ... 7 ... 2 ... 0 .... 0

Derek Jeter ....... .222 ... 9 ... 2 ... 0 .... 0

Pat Kelly ......... .300 .. 20 ... 6 ... 0 .... 2

Jim Leyritz ....... .000 ... 3 ... 0 ... 0 .... 0

Tino Martinez ..... .290 .. 31 ... 9 ... 1 .... 8

Paul O'Neill ...... .435 .. 23 .. 10 ... 0 .... 1

Tim Raines ........ .300 .. 40 .. 12 ... 0 .... 5

Luis Sojo ......... .188 .. 16 ... 3 ... 0 .... 0

Darryl Strawberry.. .500 ... 4 ... 2 ... 0 .... 0

Bernie Williams ... .320 .. 25 ... 8 ... 0 .... 1

Pub Date: 10/09/96

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