A few hours before the start of Game 2, Ken Singleton sat down with My YES to recap last night's Yankees loss, look ahead to tonight and recall his memories of the 1983 World Series.
My YES: The Yankees are in a situation right now, being down 0-1 to the Phillies, that you are familiar with. Your 1983 Orioles also dropped the first game to the Phillies in the World Series, but you went on to win the next four.
Ken Singleton: That was a very interesting series. We lost the first game 2-1. I can remember Al Holland finishing the game up for the Phillies and waiving his finger in the air like they had just won the World Series. That really ticked me off. Then when we were walking up the tunnel and I remember saying out loud, and some of the younger players heard me say it, “that’s the only one they’re going to get.” And we went on to win four in a row.
Also, Gary Matthews, Sr., “The Sarge,” had a quote in the paper saying “The World Series is not coming back to Baltimore.” And he was right, it didn’t; we went up to Philadelphia and won three straight to win the World Series.
My YES: Having gone through this situation in 1983, what do you think is going through the minds of the Yankees players right now?
Singleton: They have to think about how many times they’ve come back after losing a game this season. They have been very good at bouncing back, and I can see them doing that tonight. They just need a decent performance out of Burnett. And they need somebody to step up in the bullpen, which hasn’t happened recently. I almost think it’s Joba’s turn, because Phil Hughes has struggled with his control.
I can also see Girardi making a lineup change. I don’t know if Nick Swisher will play; he’s been slumping. I can see Gardner or Hinske getting the start, although I think Hinske is on the roster to come off the bench in Philadelphia. I think it might be time for Gardner, because if he gets on, he came make something happen.
My YES: You mentioned Phil Hughes, can we take anything from his body language last night?
Singleton: Coming off the mound and barking at the umpires is not the way to go. Umpires have a way of remembering that for a long time. And it’s not only the one that was behind the plate, it was all the umpires on the field. And these are the best umpires out there; they’re not the guys you want going against you in the future. So I would think that you would want to calm that type of behavior down and accept the responsibility that you didn’t get the ball over the plate. When you walk the first two guys against a team like Philadelphia, you’re setting up an inning for them. Like I said, maybe it’s time for Joba to get the call.
My YES: Moving on to Alex Rodriguez’s three strikeouts last night, does that lack of productivity erase the dominant performances that he put up in the ALDS and ALCS?
Singleton: I don’t think so. It was the dominance of Cliff Lee. It was Cliff Lee’s night last night. He had everything working and put the ball where he wanted to. A-Rod wasn’t the only one that struggled. Everybody else did, too… Teixeira had a few strikeouts. The three and four hitters in the Yankees lineup were completely shut down, as opposed to the three and four hitters of the Phillies lineup, Utley and Howard, who came through. Utley had a great night, and Howard had a good night. And the Yankee power source in the middle of the line up didn’t perform. But as far as A-Rod is concerned, maybe he was just due for a clunker. Cliff Lee just shut down the Yankees lineup completely, but I look for A-Rod to start getting his hits.
My YES: Yesterday, Pedro Martinez made some pretty controversial remarks. What’s your take on what he had to say heading into Game 2?
Singleton: Pedro has been around a long time. He called himself the most influential person to step foot in the old Yankee Stadium. I would actually say that maybe he’s one of the most influential visiting players to grace the stage at Yankee Stadium. But to say he’s the most influential ever, I don’t agree with that. He has been certainly one of the players the fans love to hate. And that’s because he’s been one of the best pitchers. But he doesn’t fit into that category anymore. He’s gotten to a point in his career where the mind is willing, but the flesh is certainly weaker than it was in the past. He knows what needs to be done, it’s just a matter of he can’t perform like that anymore, so he has to change his style completely. He’s fun to watch, I’ll give him that. And he’s great to beat. When the Yankees beat him, it was like a double celebration.
My YES: And finishing up with tonight’s other starter, which A.J. Burnett do you think we’ll get tonight?
Singleton: Well, I know which one we need. We need the good A.J. You have to go back to September 29 vs. the Royals to find his last really dominant game (6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K against Kansas City). But the Philadelphia Phillies are not the Kansas City Royals, so there’s a big difference. He’s going to have to keep the fast guys off base, and keep the big guys in the ballpark. It could be a tall order against a team like Philadelphia, but I think he’s capable of doing it.