CLEVELAND -- Jaret Wright vs. Tony Saunders. Two rookies will be on the international stage tonight in Game Four of the World Series at Jacobs Field.
It will be just the sixth matchup of rookie starters in Series history, and the first since Baltimore's Mike Boddicker defeated Philadelphia's Charles Hudson in Game Two of the 1983 Series.
Wright went 8-3 with a 4.38 ERA in 16 starts for Cleveland this year, then won two games in the Division Series against the Yankees. He got a no-decision in his only start in the ALCS. Saunders was 4-6, 4.61 for the Marlins, did not pitch in the Division Series in San Francisco and got a no-decision in Game Three of the NLCS against Atlanta.
Wright, 21, became a sort of matinee idol in Cleveland because of his heroics against the Yankees. But he had been a savior for the Cleveland rotation long before that, because of all the injuries to Tribe pitchers.
Indians manager Mike Hargrove said the Tribe's original master plan with Wright this season was clear: start in Double-A, pitch the rest of the year in Buffalo and be a September call-up.
All the injuries to the Cleveland pitching staff changed that. Wright left the Bisons after just seven starts and made his debut in Cleveland June 24.
"It's nice to see young kids' talent levels and maturity levels allow them to be pushed," Hargrove said. "He's been a godsend."
Wright was pushed back from Game Two to Game Four because the Indians feared his arm was tiring. He has thrown nearly 210 innings this year after not going past 129 in his previous two pro seasons, but he said his energy tank is not depleted.
"Are the Marlins going to see this?" Wright asked the media prior to Game Three. "It's full. VERY full."
Wright did admit, however, he'll probably be very nervous tonight.
"I'm always OK the day before," Wright said. "When I come in tomorrow sitting on the couches to go outside and warm up, I'm sure it will be right up there."
Wright never talked much about going to the next level of play when he was in the minors this year. He said that's one reason why he wasn't overwhelmed when he got to Cleveland.
"You had to concentrate on Double-A and Triple-A at that time," he said. "Now that I'm here, it's all gone by real fast. In the offseason I'll sit back and look at what happened."
Like most opponents who've seen him live or on television, Saunders has been duly impressed.
"I saw him pitch a couple times last year (in the Arizona Fall League)," Saunders said. "I said to myself, 'Man, it's not going to take this guy long to get to the big leagues. He's got great stuff.' "
Here's a rundown of historical data from Tuesday's 14-11 Florida victory:
The Marlins' seven-run ninth was just the second time a team had that many runs in the ninth. The Yankees did it against the Giants in 1936. The 11 combined runs tied the record for most runs in any inning, last set by the Dodgers and Yankees in 1956.
The game time of 4 hours, 12 minutes was two minutes short of the record for a nine-inning game. The 4:14 contest was Toronto's 15-14 win over Philadelphia in 1993.
Cleveland's Marquis Grissom had singles in the last two innings to extend his World Series hitting streak to 15 games, two shy of the record set by the Yankees' Hank Bauer.
Each team had three errors, the first time that's happened since the 1979 opener between Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The temperature that night was 41 degrees, second-coldest in Series history.
The Indians' 11 runs were the second-most for a losing team, surpassed only by Philadelphia's 14 in '93.
Cleveland starter Charles Nagy allowed three home runs, the most by a pitcher since Philadelphia's Hudson gave up three in Game Five of the '83 Series.
The clubs tied a series record for a nine-inning game by using 11 pitchers, seven by Cleveland.
Ultimately lost in the shuffle of his five-RBI output was a spectacular catch Sheffield made in right field in the seventh.
Cleveland's Jim Thome belted an arching drive to right field and Sheffield climbed the fence to pull it down and help preserve a 7-7 tie.
Marlins bench coach Jerry Manuel moved Sheffield more toward the gap for Thome's at-bat and the strategy paid off.
"I know he (Thome) is a pull hitter and he (Manuel) moved me over a little bit," Sheffield said. "I was able to get back to the wall and make the catch. When I looked back, I found the wall and it stayed in my glove."
"That was a dandy, wasn't it?" said Marlins manager Jim Leyland.