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Matchup: Wells vs. Marlins, Part II
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10/23/2003  6:57 PM ET 
Matchup: Wells vs. Marlins, Part II
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Wells vs. Marlins, Part II

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David Wells
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Juan Pierre
The matchup: David Wells vs. Marlins' little ball, Part 2

Wells and the Yankees fell victim to the Marlins' very National League style of little ball in Game 1 of the World Series.

Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo and Co. bunted, stole, and generally harassed Wells and the Yankees defense enough to steal a 3-2 victory and seize the home-field advantage.

Wells still lasted seven innings and only gave up three runs, and since then the Yankees have contained the Marlins' running game, but with the Series tied at two games apiece, the Marlins will undoubtedly try to force the issue once again.

The expectation: Expect Pierre to try to bunt for a single on Wells, just as he did to open the Series in New York last Saturday. Expect Castillo to try to bunt Pierre over or for the Marlins to hit and run to set up a big first inning like they did against Roger Clemens in Game 4.

Also expect Wells -- and the Yankees infield -- to be much more prepared for this type of small-ball attack. Remember that Wells lasted seven innings in Game 1 and gave up only three runs in all. Also remember that the Yankees have by and large contained the Marlins' running game since then.

The result: Uh ... this isn't quite what was expected. Wells did a great job in the first inning, getting three quick outs, but then everything caved in.

Boomer was pulled from the game because of lower back spasms, an aggravation of a recurring lumbar disc problem that's given him fits for years. Jose Contreras relieved him and offered no relief in a game the Yankees would go on to lose, 6-4, putting them one loss from elimination.

MIAMI -- David Wells spoke candidly about his "conditioning" Wednesday while he addressed the media prior to his start Thursday night in Game 5 of the World Series.

Wells, 40, said he's been blessed by a "rubber arm" that's kept him healthy for most of his career, but his balky back is another issue, and it came back to bite Wells and the Yankees on Thursday.

The mission for Wells in Game 5 was to be as effective as he was while pitching seven good innings in Game 1, but to be on the lookout for the Marlins' speed game that did him in last Saturday.

Unfortunately for New York, Wells never got the chance.

He sparkled through the first inning, getting speedy Juan Pierre right away when Pierre's leadoff bunt-hit attempt was squashed courtesy of a nice play by first baseman Nick Johnson. He threw only eight pitches in the inning, and five of them were strikes.

But that was it. As soon as he got started, Wells was done. Finished. One inning and out. His lower back flared up with spasms, a result of his ongoing lumbar disc condition.

Jose Contreras came on in relief and yielded four runs over three innings, including Juan Pierre's RBI double with two outs in the fourth.

In July 2001, Wells underwent lower back surgery that kept him out for the rest of that season. Now he's out for the rest of this Series and might have thrown the last pitch of his Yankee career.

"He was very stiff in the bullpen, but it's been like that before and he's loosened up over the course of the game," Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "Today it just wasn't anything he could work his way through."

Now the Yankees have to rely on Andy Pettitte once again to deliver them through Game 6. Pettitte, of course, is one of the left-handers the Yankees have looked to throughout the postseason to be their big-game pitcher.

The other southpaw, of course, is Wells, who will have to watch and hope that his back injury wasn't the back-breaker for the Yankees.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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