Wells Happy With Game 1 Win


For all his prognosticating powers, David Wells certainly couldn't have predicted this.

Wells told shock jock Howard Stern's radio show a few days ago the Yankees would win the World Series in five games over the San Diego Padres. So far, he's on target.

What Wells failed to forecast was that he'd give up three homers Saturday night -- two on consecutive pitches and two to Greg Vaughn.

He also never mentioned Chuck Knoblauch's three-run shot and Tino Martinez's grand slam in a seven-run seventh inning that carried the Yankees to a 9-6 victory in Game 1.

And despite seven mostly shaky innings, Wells somehow won his first career Series start.

"I'll take that," he said. "Believe you me. ... The bottom line is that it's a win, 10-9 or whatever. It looks bad but we went out, stayed tough, and we won the game."

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  • Boomer, as Wells is known, was living out a dream by pitching against the Padres, the team he rooted for while growing up in San Diego.

    In the first six innings, the Padres went boom boom, boom against the Boomer.

    Wells gave up three homers -- two on consecutive pitches to Tony Gwynn and Vaughn in the fifth -- and looked like he was headed for only his second career postseason loss when he went to the bench for the bottom of the seventh with the Yankees trailing 5-2.

    But New York showed the Padres for the first time, and reminded the rest of baseball for the umpteenth, why it won 114 regular-season games and why it's back in the World Series for the second time in three years.

    "Stunning?" Wells snapped when asked about the homers. "Those guys are good hitters. They kicked my butt tonight, but our batters came through in the clutch."

    Wells allowed five runs and seven hits in seven innings with two walks and four strikeouts. After his three previous 1998 postseason starts, who would have guessed that?

    The left-hander entered the night unbeaten in three postseason starts this fall with a 1.90 ERA and a 7-1 mark in his playoff career. He was tabbed New York's Game 1 starter by manager Joe Torre after beating Texas once in the division series and twice defeating Cleveland in the ALCS.

    Taking the mound for the top of the first with his favorite band, Van Halen, pumping through the Stadium speakers, Wells stranded a runner in each of the first two innings before running into trouble in the third.

    With a runner on first, Wells got two outs and quickly got two strikes on Vaughn. Wells may have tried to be too perfect with a pitch low and away to Vaughn, who drove it over the wall in right-center.

    "He hit a real good pitch right there," said Wells, who tied a record with his fourth win of this postseason. "Give him some credit."

    Wells got two outs in the fifth before giving up a bloop single to Quilvio Veras and the consecutive shots to Gwynn and Vaughn.

    He got through the next two innings unscathed, and then Wells, whose perfect game in May against Minnesota was the Yankees' best moment of the regular season, was bailed out by his teammates in the seventh.

    So does Wells plan to call Stern on Monday morning?

    "Who knows?" he said. "It's been working so far. Howard is the man. Hell yeah, I will."

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