Scouting the Game 3 pitchers

Tuesday, October 24th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

YANKEES STARTER ORLANDO HERNANDEZ (12-13): "El Duque" is a postseason wizard. In 10 playoff and World Series appearances, he is 8-0 with a 1.90 ERA. He has started twice against the Mets at Shea Stadium, once in 1998 and once this year. He is 1-0 there with a 1.13 ERA and has allowed just seven hits in 16 innings. He was a much better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium this year. He went 8-5 with a 3.73 ERA on the road; 4-8 with a 5.57 ERA at home. Expect the Mets to load up with left-handed hitters against him. Lefties batted .280 this season, right-handed batters just .210.

LOVES TO FACE: Mike Piazza (1-for-10)

HATES TO FACE: Todd Zeile (5-for-12, HR)

METS STARTER RICK REED (11-5): This is not a good statistical matchup for the Mets. Reed, who is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in two playoff starts this year, hasn't beaten the Yankees in any of his three starts since against them since interleague play commenced in 1997. He did not face them this year, but is 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA. He allowed the Yankees five home runs in 111/3 innings in two starts in 1999. One thing he won't do is allow a lot of walks. Reed allowed just 34 in 184 innings this season, the third lowest walks-per-nine-innings ratio (1.66) in the NL.

LOVES TO FACE: Paul O'Neill (1-for-6)

HATES TO FACE: Jorge Posada (2-for-5)

Olympians honored

Major League Baseball plans to honor the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Baseball team before Game 3 at Shea Stadium on Tuesday. The entire team, which beat Cuba in the gold-medal game in Sydney, Australia, will be on hand.

Also honored will be Team USA manager Tommy Lasorda, who is no stranger to the World Series. Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers to world championships in 1981 (over the Yankees) and 1988 and won National League pennants in 1977 and 1978.

– Evan Grant

Mets ponder changes

Mets manager Bobby Valentine spent most of his time Monday discussing events of the past, namely the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza bat-throwing incident from Game 2. But he intended to spend Monday night thinking about the future, including a lineup for Game 3.

Valentine admitted to considering some lineup changes for Game 3 against the Yankees Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Hernandez is especially tough on right-handed hitters. He held them to a .210 average this season.

One change the Mets could make is putting Darryl Hamilton, a left-handed hitter, in center field. They could either sit down center fielder Jay Payton or right fielder Timo Perez, who hit right-handed.

– Evan Grant

Changing his tune

Among the Mets, perhaps the strongest reaction to the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza bat-throwing incident came from reserve infielder Lenny Harris. Immediately after the game, Harris said he would "punch [Clemens] in the mouth," if he saw him on the street.

"I think if he had pitched here, he would definitely had something thrown at his head," Harris said. "It's an eye for an eye."

By Monday, however, Harris had apparently cooled down. Either that or he was being coy. Asked about Clemens again Monday, Harris said he was over the problem. "If I see him on the street, I'll buy him an ice cream cone."

– Evan Grant

From the tabloids

Finally, thanks to the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza saga, the tabloids broke out of their weekend-long malaise Monday morning.

The back page of the Post featured a column by Wallace Matthews essentially ripping the Mets for not fighting more vigorously after Clemens threw a portion of splintered bat in Piazza's direction. The headline: Meek the Mets.

In the regular editions of the Daily News, the main headline was simply: A Squeaker. The paper recovered in time for its afternoon edition, the Daily News Express, which is aimed at subway riders. Its big headline:

Fans ask: Is Roger Rabid?

– Evan Grant

Knoblauch benched

Yankees manager Joe Torre changed his mind and decided against starting Chuck Knoblauch as his second baseman in Tuesday's Game 3.

"I decided to play [Jose] Vizcaino," Torre said. "I just didn't want to take the chance of a guy out at second base not being as familiar with it as he had been in the past or will be again."

Knoblauch, whose designated hitter role is not available during the Series games at Shea Stadium, has not played in the field since Sept. 29.

"It's fine," Knoblauch said. "It's really the right thing to do. This is no time to be messing around."

– Ken Daley

Yankees irked

Inspiration is where you find it, and the Yankees on Tuesday seemed offended that more attention was being directed to the Roger Clemens bat-throwing incident than the fact they have a 2-0 lead and have won a record 14 consecutive World Series games.

"It was like the outcome of the game was slighted," Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill said. "That's what mattered, not what happened in the first inning that had no bearing on the game. The story was how Roger Clemens threw the baseball, not how he threw a bat."

– Ken Daley

Serious Series

How serious is the Subway Series? It has even divided the training staff of the NBA's New York Knicks, splitting head trainer and Yankees fan Mike Saunders from assistant trainer and Mets diehard Said Hamdan.

"I'm Jewish and he's Arab, and we see eye-to-eye on that stuff," Saunders told the New York Post. "But when it comes to the Mets and Yankees, that's where we draw the line."

– Ken Daley

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