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New York Yankee fans applaud as Cleveland Indians pitcher Jaret Wright walks back to the dugout after being removed from the game in the first inning against the New York Yankees during game one of the American League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 6, 1998 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Wright gave up five hits in 2/3 thirds of inning of work. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

All is Wells for N.Y.

Wednesday, October 07, 1998

By PAUL HOYNES
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

NEW YORK - Exactly what time is tip-off anyway?

Sitting in the visitor's dugout in Yankee Stadium before last night's American League Championship Series opener between the Indians and New York, General Manager John Hart expressed surprise at what an overwhelming favorite the Yankees were viewed as throughout the baseball world.

"You can understand it because of their record," said Hart, "but I think people are missing the boat if they think we're the Washington Generals getting ready to play the Harlem Globetrotters."

Or maybe they're not missing anything.

Jaret Wright, appearing intimidated by a team that won 114 games in the regular season, didn't make it out of the first inning as David Wells sliced through the Indians in New York's easy 7-2 victory. In Game 2 of the best-of-seven series, Charles Nagy faces David Cone today at 4:08 p.m.

The Yankees don't like Wright. One of the reasons is because he throws inside. But mostly it's because he beats them. Before last night he was 4-1 against the Yankees, including two victories this season and two more in the 1997 division series.

Who knows what happened to Wright last night? Maybe he started listening to the Yankees who have have been saying nasty things about him ever since he hit Luis Sojo in the left hand in a March 2 exhibition game. Or maybe he's just a 22-year-old right-hander who isn't quite the big-game pitcher he appeared to be last year in the Tribe's unlikely trip to the seventh game of the World Series.

This is the second time in eight days that Wright has put the Indians in a deep postseason hole. Boston beat him in Game 1 of the division series, ripping him for six runs on seven hits in 4 innings.

Wright is 0-2 with a 19.80 earned run average in two starts this postseason after going 3-0 last year. He allowed five runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Then again, the Indians are used to losing the first game of a series. This is the eighth straight time they've done it.

The last time they won a series opener, Tony Pena beat Boston with a homer in the 13th inning of the 1995 division series.

Wells never needs much help to beat the Indians. Giving him a 5-0 lead in the first was unfair.

The left-hander is 12-3 lifetime against the Tribe, including a 3-0 record in the postseason. He is 6-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 16 games in his postseason career.

He's 2-0 this postseason, winning the divisision and ALCS openers. He's allowed two runs in 16 innings in those games.

In four postseason games this year, the Yankees have allowed three runs.

The Indians didn't get a man past second base until Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer against Wells with one out in the ninth. It was Ramirez's 12th postseason homer, tying him for fourth place on the all-time list with Yogi Berra.

Before that the Indians' best scoring chance came in the seventh when David Justice singled and went to second when Jim Thome was hit by a two-out pitch. After falling behind Richie Sexson, 3-0, Wells came back for the strikeout to end the inning.

Wells struck out seven and walked one in 8 innings.

Chad Ogea, added to the ALCS roster at yesterday, cleaned up most of the mess Wright left in the first. He absorbed 5 innings in his first appearance since the season finale on Sept. 27.

After Scott Brosius greeted him with an RBI-single in the first, Ogea didn't allow a run until Jorge Posada hit a leadoff homer in the sixth to make it 6-0. Manager Mike Hargrove finally removed him after the Yankees made it 7-0 on consecutive doubles by Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams to start the seventh.

The Yankees stung Wright with four straight singles to start the game. New York led, 2-0, before Wright recorded the first of his two outs.

Chuck Knoblauch opened with a single to right. Derek Jeter lined a 1-2 pitch into center field as Knoblauch stopped at second. Wright jumped ahead of O'Neill with two quick strikes, but couldn't finish him.

O'Neill, one of Wright's biggest critics on the Yankees after being hit by one of his pitches on June 19, sent a 3-2 pitch into right field for the third straight single. Knoblauch scored for a 1-0 lead as Jeter went to third.

Williams lined the fourth consecutive single to center to make it 2-0. Tino Martinez finally stopped the attack of base hits when he bounced into a force play at second as O'Neill went to third. Wright followed with a strikeout of Tim Raines.

But Wright still had no idea what he was doing on the mound.

On his way to walking Shane Spencer, he threw a wild pitch that bounced between the legs of Sandy Alomar Jr. to score O'Neill for a 3-0 lead. Martinez, who stole second, went to third on the wild pitch.

He scored easily from there on Posada's single to right. Finally, Wright's short and frightening night was over as Ogea relieved.

©1998 THE PLAIN DEALER. Used with permission.

BOX SCORE -    10/6/98


CLEVELAND (2) AT NY YANKEES (7) PLAYOFFS - FINAL 

CLEVELAND              ab  r  h rbi bb so lob   avg
Lofton cf               4  0  0  0   0  2   1  .300
Cora 2b                 3  1  1  0   1  1   1  .077
Justice lf              4  0  1  0   0  0   1  .300
Ramirez rf              4  1  2  2   0  1   1  .389
Fryman 3b               4  0  0  0   0  1   2  .118
Thome dh                3  0  0  0   0  1   0  .111
Sexson 1b               3  0  0  0   0  2   3  .000
Alomar c                3  0  0  0   0  0   0  .188
 Diaz c                 0  0  0  0   0  0   0  .000
Vizquel ss              3  0  1  0   0  0   0  .111

Totals                 31  2  5  2   1  8   9

BATTING: HR - Ramirez (3, 9th inning off Wells 1 on, 1 out). 
RBI - Ramirez 2 (5). Runners left in scoring position, 2 out -
Sexson 2, Cora 1. GIDP - Justice. Team LOB - 4.

BASERUNNING: SB - Vizquel (1, 2nd base off Wells/Posada). 

NY YANKEES             ab  r  h rbi bb so lob   avg
Knoblauch 2b            5  1  1  0   0  0   3  .125
Jeter ss                4  1  2  0   1  0   0  .231
Oneill rf               5  2  2  1   0  1   2  .375
Williams cf             4  0  2  2   1  1   1  .133
Martinez 1b             5  1  0  0   0  2   7  .188
Raines dh               2  0  0  0   2  1   2  .167
Spencer lf              2  1  0  0   1  1   1  .375
 a-Ledee ph-lf          1  0  0  0   0  0   2  .000
Posada c                3  1  2  2   1  0   2  .400
Brosius 3b              4  0  2  1   0  0   1  .429

Totals                 35  7 11  6   6  6  21

a-flied to center for Spencer in the 7th.

BATTING: 2B - Oneill (3, Ogea); Williams (1, Ogea). HR - Posada
(1, 6th inning off Ogea 0 on, 0 out). RBI - Oneill (2), Williams 2 (2), 
Posada 2 (2), Brosius (4). 2-out RBI - Posada, Brosius. Runners left 
in scoring position, 2 out - Knoblauch 1, Martinez 3, Posada 1.  
Team LOB - 10.

BASERUNNING: SB - Martinez (1, 2nd base off Wright/Alomar);
Jeter (1, 2nd base off Ogea/Alomar). 

FIELDING: DP: 1 (Knoblauch-Jeter-Martinez). 

--------------------------------------------------
    Cleveland      - 000 000 002  --  2
    Ny Yankees     - 500 001 10X  --  7

--------------------------------------------------

CLEVELAND                    ip       h   r  er  bb  so  hr    era
Wright (L, 0-2)                 2/3   5   5   5   1   1   0  19.80
Ogea                          5 1/3   5   2   2   2   2   1   3.38
Poole                           1/3   0   0   0   1   1   0   0.00
Reed                            2/3   0   0   0   0   0   0  20.25
Shuey                         1       1   0   0   2   2   0   0.00

NY YANKEES                   ip       h   r  er  bb  so  hr    era
Wells (W, 2-0)                8 1/3   5   2   2   1   7   1   1.10
Nelson                          2/3   0   0   0   0   1   0   0.00

Ogea pitched to 2 batters in the 7th.

WP - Wright, Shuey. HBP - Thome (by Wells).  Pitches-strikes:
Wells 114-78; Nelson 12-6; Wright 36-18; Ogea 88-59; Poole 9-4;
Reed 7-4; Shuey 22-10.  Ground balls-fly balls: Wells 10-8;
Nelson 0-1; Wright 1-0; Ogea 8-6; Poole 0-0; Reed 0-2; Shuey
0-1.  Batters faced: Wells 31; Nelson 2; Wright 8; Ogea 23;
Poole 2; Reed 2; Shuey 6. 

UMPIRES: HP--Jim Evans. 1B--Ted Hendry. 2B--John Shulock.
3B--Larry Young. LF--Tim Welke. RF--Jim Mckean.
T--3:31.  Att--57,138.   Weather: 54 degrees, clear.   Wind: 8 mph, 
left to right.