Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A's return to Yankee Stadium, here's the good news, Barry Zito pitches tonight

The last time the A’s played in Yankee Stadium, they fumbled away their chance to knock the Yankees out of the playoffs.

Tonight, the Yankee tamer, Barry Zito, gives the team a chance to start this series on a high note.

Let me tell you what he has to do to be successful.Barry Zito is an exceptional lefthanded pitcher. In Yankee Stadium that is a requisite for success. Zito has an outstanding curveball. He has a tendency to fall in love with this pitch. Ever since this game was invented, the best pitch in baseball has been the fastball.

Zito pitched a fabulous game last Thursday against New York. The reason for his success on the mound was, he set up the curve by throwing his fastball inside to the Yankee hitters.

Watch him tonight, if he is getting the heater inside on the hands of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, and Shane Spencer, he will freeze them with the hook later in the count.

Pitchers need to keep hitters off balance, destroy their timing, the curve ball does it, but only after the pitcher establishes his fastball.

Zito pitched two of the best games I can remember against New York.

One, in the playoffs in 2000.

Who can forget Saturday night in the Bronx, the Yankees one win from knocking the A’s out? Zito looked Roger Clemens and the big noisy crowd right in the eye and beat them both.

Two, last year the playoffs, game three, the A’s could win the series. Zito pitched a gem only to lose to Mike Mussina.

Zito is a weird dude. His pregame routine has to be followed to the minute. The Yankees will mess with him tonight before the game, you can count on it.

David Wells knows how to pitch in Yankee Stadium.

He is so comfortable pitching there, that he once wore Babe Ruth’s cap in a game. Wells told me that since he bought the cap for $35,000 he wanted to wear it in a game. Wells reasoned that the authentic Ruth hat, had an NY on the front, so why not?

Well, Joe Torre noticed it (the NY was noticeably smaller) and made the big lefty remove it.

Wells threw his perfect game in Yankee Stadium. Wells is 29-9 in his last 56 appearances in the Bronx.

The Yankees have had their share of great lefties in this park. Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Andy Pettitte, Ron Guidry, Eddie Lopat and even Al Downing, to name a few.

The secret is to keep the ball in left and and left center field. If you let the lefties pull the ball to right, it is trouble.

So, managers love to throw lefties here because it means that more righthanded batters will be in the lineup.

The A’s defy that logic. Art Howe will put six lefties in the lineup tonight.

Oakland is hitting lefties very well early in the season. Wells must throw 60% curves, low and away tonight to keep the lefties from pulling the ball.

Wells, unlike Zito, doesn’t have the fastball to stop the A’s from pulling the ball. His plan will be, show the inside fastball, but use the curve away for his out pitch.

Miguel Tejada has hit Wells hard, including a home run last Wednesday that eventually led to Wells’ removal from the game.

Carlos Pena gets his first look at Yankee Stadium. You now how young players are awed in their first game in NY. Should be interesting to see how he reacts.

Ramon Hernandez (4-8), and Terrance Long (7-16) and Tejada (6-21 with three homers) have hit Wells in the past.

Key to this game for Oakland, win it before Mariano Rivera takes his jacket off in the bull pen. The A’s haven’t hit this guy yet.

Frank Lary pitched for Detroit in the 50’s and early 60’s. He was known as “The Yankee Killer”. Even as a righthander, he had a lifetime record against the Yankees which was something like 23-7.

Zito can be this generation’s Yankee killer. He is not in awe of the Bombers, nor is he flustered in Yankee Stadium.

I like his chances.

Zito versus Wells. The A’s need this one tonght to start this road trip successfully, and they have the right pitcher going.

Seattle throws Joel Piniero, Ryan Franklin, and James Baldwin against the White Sox, while the A’s are in NY.

Two rookies and a weak armed veteran.

Something tells me Art Howe is starting to watch the Seattle scores more closely. Once Mulder comes back, just maybe, the A’s might close the gap on the Mariners and make the West a race after all.

Tony Muser was fired in KC yesterday. Now, when Don Baylor (Cubs) and Buck Martinez (Toronto) get their pink slips, all the managers on the brink of being fired, will have been let go.

Amazing as it is only April 30th. Most of the managers fired this month should have been replaced over the winter anyway.

How come no one is blaming the GMs for bringing these men back to start the season.

What a way to start the week.


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