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October 24, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe Torre.

Q. What did you think about El Duque?

JOE TORRE: It doesn't get much better than that. He has the heart of a lion. After seven innings, I was willing to say: "Let's try something else." He wasn't into that. He's something. I mean, both sides pitched their tails off, but his getting out of that bases loaded jam the way he did, he deserved the right to get a decision in this one. I thought he was great.

Q. Rick Reed was so aggressive in the strike zone. Did that make it tough for you guys overall?

JOE TORRE: No, not really. I mean, he did a great job. He had a great moving fastball. We know that he throws strikes, but he made quality pitches, there was no question. We broke through a little bit. We had some opportunities to add on, but he got the outs. You really have to give him all the credit for that.

Q. What was the decision process in leaving Hernandez in to pitch the eighth, even though he had a high pitch count? I think it might have been over 120 pitches.

JOE TORRE: We talked about it. And what he has done for us post-season, I mean, it was really tough for me to deny him what he really wanted very badly. Then when he struck out Robin, I felt very comfortable with it. Todd swinging the bat real well, it was basically a ground ball, not that it wasn't a base hit. I thought he was fine. He just probably made a mistake to Agbayani. They're good players, good hitters.

Q. What was the situation with El Duque not feeling well, and how was he feeling at game time?

JOE TORRE: You answer that one. (Laughing.) If he's not feeling well, I'm going to have everybody catch what he has. He was good; he was strong. He felt real good. I think it sort of put to rest his being ill when he went so deep into the game and threw as many pitches as he did. He was fine.

Q. Can you talk about the conversation at the end of the seventh inning with El Duque in the dugout? It looked like you were signalling one more inning, and he was very animated?

JOE TORRE: You mean after the seventh?

Q. Yes.

JOE TORRE: I was going to make a change. But he felt really good. And it was tough after he pitched that seventh, the way he did, to deny that. Again, his track record, he wasn't wishy-washy about it. He was very animated, but felt very good. And as I say, he struck Robin out. He's the one that probably gave him the most trouble all night. He made a hell of a pitch on him.

Q. You were thinking, all things considered, you thought: Maybe I've got enough out of him and I shouldn't push it?

JOE TORRE: Well, pitch count, you pretty much -- he and Pettitte probably are the two guys that can run their pitch count up pretty good. When he went out there in the seventh, I just made an assumption to be ready to go with somebody. It's not that I wanted to do it; but I was making the assumption because of the pitch count. When he came back at me the way he did, I mean, that was an easy choice for me.

Q. Two-part question. Will you go back to Knoblauch tomorrow? And, secondly, how much would you like to see O'Neill back next year?

JOE TORRE: No, O'Neill possibly wants to come back. And certainly he would be missed if he wasn't here. Knoblauch, I really haven't thought about tomorrow. I doubt that he'll play second base. I'm not sure if Jose will, or Luis; but I'll think about it and come up with something tomorrow.

Q. After you got out of the bases-loaded, no-out thing in the sixth after they scored, and they came back in the dugout, did it feel like one of those typical Yankee World Series' wins at that point, having held them off?

JOE TORRE: I tell you, it was typical El Duque. You don't think -- he's up on that high wire, he's up on that high wire all the time, and you don't think he's going to be able to get down from there. The way he pitched that inning, he does it strictly -- I mean he has good stuff, but his determination is really tough to match for me. He's really special when it comes to big games.

Q. You always talk about the momentum swing. You come in here up 2-0. Now the Mets beat your guy who has been unbeatable in the post-season. Could you maybe speculate on what you think this does to the Series?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question one game, like Oakland beat us one game, and we evened it out, and it's a different look. We knew coming in here, sure, you're up 2-0, but that doesn't give you any free ticket anywhere. We had to work to win this ball game tonight. We had some opportunity, but they shut us down. Everything's going to depend on how we pitch tomorrow and how they pitch. I think we've been down this road so many times, not necessarily in the World Series for a couple of years, but the fact that we've been pretty good responding to losses; and hopefully, we'll do it again tomorrow.

Q. You touched on this, but how many starting pitchers in Major League Baseball would have earned the kind of trust you showed Hernandez to work out of that kind of situation in the seventh inning?

JOE TORRE: Well, there are a number of them, but I've got a few on my ballclub. You get Pettitte out there and Clemens, if they feel good enough to go back out there, it's pretty tough to deny that, the way they've pitched for us this year. And they understand. They understand their own bodies, and they understand how they feel. They're not going to go out there thinking that -- in other words, they're getting a little bit too caught up in the emotion, as opposed to thinking they could really do it. But El Duque is pretty special. Again, I'm not going to downplay the other guys on my staff, but El Duque is -- what he has done for us over the last few years, it's tough to deny that.

Q. Sometimes during the regular season, a manager has to rest his main bullpen guys, even to sacrifice the game. I know you wouldn't do that in a World Series. But are you set up pretty well now with Nelson and Rivera having two days off?

JOE TORRE: Hopefully. Hopefully, we get the opportunity to use Rivera tomorrow. And that means we're leading. It's going to -- Denny, we need Denny and possibly David Cone to follow him up, depending on how much Denny gives us as a starter. But we're in good shape, physically. And, again, we need to bounce back, because you never want to play seven -- you never want to play in a seven-game series and want to lose two in a row, and realize that momentums do swing.

Q. I came in a couple seconds late. I wasn't sure if anyone asked you. Could you comment on the 14-game winning streak in the World Series?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's -- when you think about all the teams you had to beat and how tough it is to win four out of seven, much less four in a row every year, it's pretty incredible. Again, we never think about that until the end. We're not near the end. We're only halfway home. We need to win two more games. But that's a streak to be proud of, because of who you have to beat to get there.

Q. Just a follow-up on that. Did you realize that the old streak of 12 was over two managers, and you're the only one with one manager?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, we have a good PR director. He told me that. (Laughter.)

Q. Bernie had kind of an uncharacteristic dry spell. Is that something mechanical, or is it just one of those things?

JOE TORRE: It's one of those things. He was swinging the bat real well tonight. He was frustrated when Cook struck him out. Every time Bernie gets up there, especially when he's gone through a dry spell, you expect a big boomer. I'll expect that tomorrow. I expected that tonight. He had some good at-bats; he just didn't make solid contact. But it is uncharacteristic, because of what he has done for us, not only in post-season, but every year I've been here.

Q. It gets kind of overlooked when you win the first two games. But 37 runners left on base in three games, is that a cause for concern?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's not something you're going to try to do something different to change it. But for sure, we had our opportunities. We feel we let something slip away by having so many opportunities. But I think when you get into the World Series and you know that the Mets' pitching staff is one of their strong suits, then you really have to credit them. They got some very crucial outs in very tough situations.

End of FastScripts....

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