10/22/2003 7:19 PM ET
Penny set to shine bright in Game 5
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
Game 5 may be Wells' NY finale
MIAMI -- Brad Penny has had his ups and downs in the 2003 postseason. Fortunately, for Penny and his colleagues on the Florida Marlins, the ups have been more recent than the downs, so the outlook for his performance has improved.
Penny, the Marlins' starter for Game 5 of the World Series, could be the comeback player of the postseason. All within the space of a few weeks in October he went from struggling to being a winner in the World Series.
Penny lasted only four innings in Game 2 of the Division Series, but the Marlins came from behind to defeat the San Francisco Giants. His start in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series was even worse for him as he gave up seven runs in two innings and took the loss against the Chicago Cubs. The Marlins then took him out of the rotation and put him in a relief role. He pitched one scoreless inning in Game 4 of the NLCS. That was essentially a mop-up role in a Florida loss.
But his next relief appearance was far more important. He worked the fourth inning in Game 7, retired all three batters he faced and was credited for the victory as the Marlins came from behind yet again to win the game and the NLCS.
That performance revived the Marlins' belief in Penny, and he got the start in Game 1 of the World Series. He justified the Marlins' faith in him with a performance that was solid enough to put Florida in a postion to win. He worked 5 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits in a game the Marlins eventually won, 3-2.
Penny, who was coming off a 14-10 regular season, wasn't happy about being pulled out of the postseason rotation.
"I was a little upset when I didn't get to start," he said Wednesday. But it worked out. We won. It was a good move by the manager. You get tired. I mean, it's a long season. October, I've never pitched this long. This is the most innings I've had. You have to dig down. No matter if you're hurt or not, you've got to go out there. When they ask you to take the ball, you've got to take it."
The success in Game 1 was obviously a shot in the arm for Penny. "Yeah, it was nice," he said. "Obviously, I hadn't been pitching well. It was nice to come in in a big game like that and be able to stay focused and make my pitches."
Penny said he did not feel any additional pressure because the Marlins have been scuffling on offense. "We'll be fine," he said. "We just ran into a couple of pitchers who happened to locate their pitches. Good pitching beats good hitting any time. I mean, we'll be fine. I think we'll be all right."
A large part of how "all right" the Marlins will be in Game 5 will depend on whether Brad Penny can extend his postseason comeback by one more quality performance in the World Series.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.