NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- Jeff Nelson had a tough act to follow as he came out of the New York Yankees' bullpen for the seventh inning of yesterday's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
Not starter David Cone, who was in constant trouble for six innings before leaving with the score 2-2. The pressure on Nelson was coming from a different place.
Before yesterday, Yankees relievers had given up one earned run in 23 2/3 postseason innings.
In the blink of an eye, Nelson blew up those numbers.
He faced seven batters in the seventh inning, hardly the kind of swift work being done lately by New York's bullpen. Roberto Alomar hit a one-out double down the left-field line -- "a good pitch," Nelson said -- and Rafael Palmeiro worked the count to 3-1 before hitting a towering two-run homer to right, a ball that initially looked as though it would wind up in the glove of right fielder Paul O'Neill.
By the time Nelson left the game, after 1 1/3 innings, he had given up three runs and five hits, and was the losing pitcher in the Yankees' 5-3 loss.
As a youth growing up in Catonsville, Nelson had dreamed of being a baseball hero in Baltimore. Yesterday, he got his wish.
The pitch to Palmeiro was a slider that wasn't supposed to linger over the plate. "He just got it in the air and it seemed like it blew out," Nelson said. "I thought it was a regular fly ball the way O'Neill was going back."
Nelson was acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 7. He said working one scoreless inning the previous day didn't affect him. "I'm willing to throw every game. This is the postseason," he said.
"We did a great job in Texas and [Wednesday]," said Nelson, who was 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA and two saves during the regular season. "I didn't do my job today."
Pub Date: 10/11/96