Mets back in Shea, back in series

Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2000

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was fined $50,000 Tuesday for throwing the jagged barrel of a shattered bat toward New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza in Game 2 of the World Series.

Clemens wasn't suspended for throwing the broken bat in the first inning of Sunday night's game, and baseball didn't disclose the amount of the fine. But two baseball officials with knowledge of the fine, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press it was $50,000.

Clemens engaged in ''inappropriate conduct,'' according to a statement by Frank Robinson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline. Robinson didn't elaborate on his conclusions.

''I have been advised of the fine,'' Clemens said in a statement issued before Game 3. ''I want to stay focused on the task at hand, helping my team win the World Series, so I do not intend to consider the question of an appeal or respond to questions about the fine or the incident itself until this series is over.''

When told of the punishment for Clemens, Piazza responded: ''It's all irrelevant. It doesn't matter. I have no opinion.''

The players' association has seven days to decide whether to appeal Robinson's decision to Paul Beeston, baseball's chief operating officer.

''It will all be handled after the World Series,'' said union head Donald Fehr.

Umpires during Game 2 concluded that Clemens, who beaned Piazza on July 8, didn't deliberately throw the broken bat at the catcher. Clemens wasn't ejected and pitched eight, two-hit shutout innings in the Yankees' 6-5 win.

''I think it was handled appropriately,'' Mets general manager Steve Phillips said, reacting to the fine. ''If they had come back and said they didn't want to do anything, that's fine, too. It wouldn't have broken our hearts either way.''

Clemens' teammate Jeff Nelson suggested that baseball should punish Mets pitcher Mike Hampton for hitting Yankees outfielder David Justice in the sixth inning of Game 2.

''If you're going to fine Roger 50 grand, then you have to fine Hampton for hitting David Justice,'' Nelson said.

While pitching for Boston in 1990, Clemens was ejected during a game against Oakland in the AL playoffs by umpire Terry Cooney, who claimed the pitcher was cursing at him.

Clemens was suspended for five games and fined $10,000. After hearing the appeal, commissioner Fay Vincent concluded Clemens didn't curse at Cooney, but said the pitcher's actions were unwarranted and upheld the penalties. The suspension was served about a month into the 1991 season.

HEAD:Clemens fined $50,000 for bat throw

BYLINE1:By BEN WALKER

BYLINE2:AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK -- The only bizarre thing about Game 3 of the Subway Series was that the New York Yankees finally lost. El Duque, too.

Untouchable until now, Orlando Hernandez got a taste of how dangerous the New York Mets can be in their raucous den, with its ear-splitting music and jets roaring overhead.

Benny Agbayani got Shea Stadium shaking with a go-ahead double in the eighth inning as Hernandez lost for the first time in the postseason, 4-2 Tuesday night and the Mets cut their World Series deficit to 2-1.

In a ballpark where the Mets thrive on late-inning magic, the Yankees' record 14-game winning streak in the Series came to an end.

''Anything can happen in a World Series, especially with El Duque,'' Agbayani said. ''I mean, that's all we heard was how he's won so many games in the postseason. He never lost. So there's always a first for anyone.''

Hernandez began the night with an 8-0 record -- including 3-0 this year -- and a 1.90 ERA in postseason play, and set a Yankees' World Series record by striking out 12, breaking the mark of 11 set by Bob Turley in 1956.

Still, it was not enough.

It came after the strange doings of Sunday night's Game 2, which was all about Roger Clemens almost hitting Mike Piazza with a bat. Earlier Tuesday, Clemens was slapped with a $50,000 fine.

''Our fans have been waiting 14 years for this,'' winning pitcher John Franco said. ''They're very loud and we just love being in this ballpark and the noise.''

A sellout crowd of 55,299 went crazy as Armando Benitez held on in the ninth inning this time. Benitez, who blew a ninth-inning lead in the opener, closed it out after giving up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Chuck Knoblauch.

Yankees manager Joe Torre talked to Hernandez, who felt ill before the game, about pulling him after the seventh with the score tied at 2.

''He wasn't into that,'' Torre said. ''He's something.''

''I was going to make a change,'' he said. ''But he felt really good. And it was tough after he pitched that seventh, the way he did, to deny that.''

The Mets, who tied it at 2 on Todd Zeile's double in the sixth, improved their record at Shea this season to 60-26, the best home record in baseball.

There were more Yankees fans present than Mets rooters at Yankee Stadium, though they were easily drowned out by the huge speakers in center field -- the Mets boosted their sound system with $30,000 in extra equipment this October.

''A lot of people don't like to play here,'' Zeile said. ''The field ... there's airplanes going overhead -- we feel comfortable here. It's loud.''

Now, after two one-run defeats at Yankee Stadium, the Mets get a chance to draw even. Bobby J. Jones will pitch Game 4 on Wednesday night against Denny Neagle, and Bill Clinton is expected to become the first president in office to attend a Series game since Ronald Reagan in 1983.

''It's light years different between being 3-0 and 2-1,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.

Hernandez, who struck out the first three hitters in the opening inning and took advantage of a few extra inches on the outside corner of Jeff Kellogg's strike zone, fanned Robin Ventura to start the eighth.

But after Zeile singled, Agbayani doubled into the left-center field gap. Agbayani has hit in all 12 of the Mets' postseason games this year, including a 13th-inning home run that beat San Francisco in the division series.

''I was trying to look for something low because he was throwing me up and I was chasing them,'' Agbayani said.

Pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell then added a sacrifice fly for insurance.

The sixth inning saw the Mets tie it at 2, and showcased all this Subway Series has to offer -- big stars delivering in big spots, dueling fans and drama with every pitch.

Piazza, made to look foolish in striking out his first two times up, led off with a double and Ventura, who homered earlier, drew a full-count walk. Zeile missed a bunt try and followed with a tying double and the Mets' crowd got loud, raising the decibel count more when Agbayani eked out a walk.

Bases loaded, no outs. And no worries from the Yankees bench -- Torre never even had anyone warming up, leaving it all to Hernandez.

El Duque did not disappoint. He fanned Jay Payton, hopping off the mound to punctuate his 10th strikeout, and got Mike Bordick to swing through a 3-2 pitch, shouting to celebrate the strikeout.

With reliever Dennis Cook warming up in a hurry, Valentine gambled. He put up Darryl Hamilton for starter Rick Reed, yet the pinch hitter was no match for Hernandez and grounded out.

''Baseball's a challenge, you've got to fight to get outs,'' Hernandez said through an interpreter.

The Yankees tied it at 1 in the third on David Justice's RBI double. It came with two outs, as have several of the Yankees' big hits in this Series.

Reed singled in the bottom half, and did a little extra running as Edgardo Alfonzo fouled off a full-count pitch with two outs before popping up.

Tired or not, Reed was not sharp in the next half-inning. Tino Martinez led off with a single and one out later, Paul O'Neill hit his first triple since July 23, 1999. Scott Brosius was hit by a pitch, but Reed limited the damage and the fourth inning ended with the Yankees leading 2-1.

O'Neill doubled and tripled, giving him five straight hits -- two short of the Series record set by Cincinnati's Billy Hatcher in 1990 -- before grounding out his next time up.

Ventura put the Mets ahead 1-0, homering on the first pitch in the bottom of the second.

Hernandez shook his head up and down after the shot, as if to acknowledge he'd made a mistake, and struck out Zeile, Agbayani and Payton in order.



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