''When you've got it, flaunt it,'' says New York manager Bob Lemon of his penchant for going to the bullpen so quickly in the late innings. ''It,'' of course, is Goose Gossage - and Lemon certainly has flaunted his awesome relief ace so far in postseason play.
After saving all three victories over Milwaukee in the division playoffs and nailing down two of the three wins against Oakland in the League Championship series, Gossage has now saved the first two World Series games as well. Yankee fans are getting used to the idea that they're going to see the big fireballer in the eighth or ninth inning no matter what the score is or how well the starter is doing.
Ron Guidry was mowing the Los Angeles Dodgers down 5-1 in Game 1, but still Lemon brought in Ron Davis (the first half of his one-two bullpen punch) to start the eighth inning. For a while it looked as though his ''Captain Hook'' approach might backfire this time, as Davis walked the first two batters and Gossage came on looking rusty and allowed a hit and a fly ball for two runs. But a great play by third baseman Graig Nettles on Steve Garvey's line smash saved the day, and the Goose settled down to preserve the 5-3 margin.
In Game 2, Lemon moved even more precipitously, yanking a starter (Tommy John) who was working on a three-hit shutout through seven innings. The score was only 1-0, however, and as Lemon has put it on several occasions, when you have a one-run lead and a force like Gossage in the bullpen, it doesn't make sense not to use him.
This time the Goose was more himself, giving up one hit and striking out three Dodgers in two scoreless innings as the Yankees added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth for a 3-0 decision.