This evening began with some of the biggest names in baseball history gathered near second base for a touching pregame celebration. From Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to Ted Williams and Bob Gibson, it was a collection of talent that had the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees applauding from the top steps of their dugout.
When the cheering finally ended for Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn and the other members of baseball's All-Century Team, the Yankees resumed writing some history of their own. With chilly winds whipping around Turner Field for a second straight night, the 1999 World Series continued down a familiar pin-striped path as the Yankees jumped Kevin Millwood for three first-inning runs and cruised to a 7-2 victory in front of 51,226.
Center fielder Bernie Williams collected three hits to lead an offense that pounded four Atlanta pitchers for 14 hits. The Yankees didn't hit a home run for a second straight night, but that hardly mattered as they pinged 11 singles and three doubles around the ballpark, rolling up a 5-0 lead after three innings and a 7-0 lead after five.
They had more than enough offense for veteran right-hander David Cone, who allowed one hit in seven innings and baffled the suddenly hapless Braves with an assortment of breaking pitches and sliders thrown at a variety of speeds and arm angles.
In taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that will move to Yankee Stadium for the next three games, the Yankees at least changed the story line slightly. Unlike Game 1, when they needed a four-run rally in the eighth inning, they controlled Game 2 from the beginning.
"The pitching sets the tone," Yankees Manager Joe Torre said, "and David Cone was terrific tonight. He had pretty much everything working. He doesn't throw as hard as other pitchers, but he has good movement and that's the most important thing for him."
As they attempt to win their third World Series in four years, the Yankees have won 10 consecutive World Series games and 20 of their last 23 postseason games overall. The Yankees are the 13th team in history to open a World Series with a pair of road victories. Nine of the previous 12 teams went on to win the series.
"I felt strong," Cone said. "I felt almost too strong. I worked myself into trouble with walks but was able to make quality pitches to get out of trouble. The extra rest has really helped put life back into my arm. My control was a little off, but I'd rather feel that way than a little flat."
Cone and the Yankees were in such command that the home fans were booing the National League champions by the third inning. They jeered when catcher Greg Myers broke up Cone's no-hitter with a single leading off the fifth. When the Braves broke up the shutout with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the fans were more forgiving, cheering warmly and perhaps fearing they had seen the last of their team in 1999.
"We played a bad game," Braves Manager Bobby Cox said. "We're a team of good pitching and timely hitting. We didn't get runners on tonight. We're just trying to score some runs right now. You've got to figure the game is going to be tight, and we didn't have the pitching to keep it close."
If Cone set the tempo for the Yankees, Millwood led the way for the Braves. He allowed 10 base runners and four earned runs and was gone after allowing three straight hits to open the third inning.
"My job is to go out and give us a chance to win," Millwood said. "I didn't do that. I didn't make good pitches. I was throwing the ball down the middle of the plate. It's very disappointing."
The Braves mustered just two hits in Game 1, and when they arrived for work tonight, they learned that Cox had benched shortstop Walt Weiss, second baseman Bret Boone and catcher Eddie Perez in favor of Ozzie Guillen, Keith Lockhart and Myers.
That move blew up in his face as Guillen's failure to catch a soft liner hit by Cone in the third allowed a run to score and Lockhart's failure to make a clean double play let another run score in the fourth. Offensively, Guillen, Lockhart and Myers contributed two singles, both by Myers.
The Braves entered the ninth with just two singles. With the game long since decided, they got three more hits and scored their two runs.
"We started having good swings at the end of the game," Guillen said. "We need to do that at the beginning."
Millwood's second-shortest start of his career began with Chuck Knoblauch's single. Derek Jeter followed with a single, and Paul O'Neill singled in Knoblauch. Williams hit into a double play, but Tino Martinez got an RBI single to make it 2-0. Ricky Ledee drew a walk, and Scott Brosius singled for 3-0.
Millwood struck out Joe Girardi to end the first inning and got through the second without allowing another run. But he didn't get anyone out in the third.
Williams and Martinez led off with singles, and when Ledee doubled into the gap in left-center, Williams scored to make it 4-0. Cox went for left-hander Terry Mulholland, who struck out Brosius and got Girardi on a grounder to shortstop.
Mulholland should have been out of the inning when Cone hit a soft liner to Guillen. But Guillen dropped the ball, allowing Martinez to score to make it 5-0. When Lockhart failed to make a clean throw on a potential double play in the fourth, Jeter scored to make it 6-0.
"This year in the postseason, I guess we're picking up where we left off last year," Williams said.