06/29/2002 9:21 pm ET
Lilly comes up short vs. Mets
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Ted Lilly is headed for the Yankees' bullpen and he knows it. It's not due to his performance, though his four-inning, six-run outing in the Yankees' 11-2 loss to the Mets on Saturday certainly didn't do much to change anyone's mind.
"My work is to go out there and get hitters out," Lilly said. "Thinking about what's going to happen won't make me more effective. My attention has to be on what I'm doing between the lines and nothing else."
Lilly, who has filled in admirably for Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez during their respective trips to the disabled list, may or may not get one more start next Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. But Yankees manager Joe Torre has made it clear that he will send the 26-year-old lefty to the bullpen when the Yankees return from the All-Star break.
"He knows he's going to help this club, and that's the most important thing in his mind," Torre said. "I don't think there was any pressure on him today to pitch for his job because he knows what his job is here."
Lilly, who tossed a three-hit shutout in his last start against San Diego, entered Saturday's game against the Mets with a 3-5 record despite a 2.97 ERA. He was roughed up early and often on Saturday, giving up a run in each of the first three innings, two in the fourth and one in the fifth, as Mo Vaughn launched a home run to the upper deck in right field that turned out to be Lilly's last pitch.
"I felt like I never got into a rhythm," Lilly said. "I gave up a run in the first, gave up a run in the second, gave up a run in the third -- I knew I needed to go out and put up a zero to get some momentum in our favor, and I wasn't able to do that."
The young southpaw struggled with his command all afternoon, falling behind most hitters throughout the game. He threw 94 pitches on the afternoon, with just 56 of them for strikes.
"Lilly was good or bad. There was no in-between with him," Torre said. "It looked like he was overmatching them at times, and then other times he was leaving the ball in the middle of the plate, and he paid for it."
This was the second time this season that Lilly followed up a gem with a bad outing. After he lost a one-hitter to the Seattle Mariners on April 27, he gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings to Seattle in his next start.
"I wanted to have another great start," Lilly said, referring to his San Diego shutout. "But regardless of what happened the start before, I go out there every time expecting good results."
It didn't happen on Saturday, as he gave up six runs (five earned) over four-plus innings, allowing seven hits and three walks, striking out two. With his record now at 3-6, he may have had his last start after Hernandez's impressive outing on Friday, when he threw four scoreless innings of relief.
"Lilly's been hitting my spots, which is why we have had good times lately," said catcher Alberto Castillo. "Today, he didn't have it. Sometimes you get out of bed and come to work thinking you're going to have a good day and you have a bad day. Lilly had a bad day."
Torre wouldn't commit to which pitcher would get the nod next Saturday, saying only that he would talk to pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and make a decision by Tuesday.
"I was most frustrated with my command today. I had a very difficult time locating my fastball. I didn't go out and walk five guys, but at the same time, I wasn't throwing quality strikes either," Lilly said. "I enjoy starting, and I would rather be a starter, but there are things I like about being in the bullpen as well."
Mark Feinsand covers the Yankees for MLB.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.