The Diamondbacks started their first World Series out well, thanks to Curt Schilling putting up a dominating outing on the mound- our pitchers held the Yankees to only three hits in Game One. But while we might have had our co-aces at the head of our rotation this year, let's be fair. No one looks at the lineup and says Schilling is our #1A starter- nope, there's a pretty good reason why the big gun has been the Big Unit. And he certainly reminded us why tonight.
Both pitchers came out with their best tonight. Randy Johnson started the game by striking out Chuck Knoblauch on four pitches, and then finished the first by striking out Derek Jeter. Andy Petitte, though, wasn't planning to be one-upped so easily- he matched the Big Unit with two strikeouts in the first, but managed to do it on eight pitches, all of them strikes. Whew.
The second inning, though, didn't go quite so smoothly for New York. Johnson continued to dominate, notching another two Ks, but the Diamondbacks got the bats working in the bottom of the inning. Reggie Sanders led off the inning with a single to short, and then- as the announcers discussed whether the DBacks should lay down a sac bunt to move up the runner- Danny Bautista took a pitch and lined it all the way to the wall in right-center field. Sanders came all the way around to score on the hit, and Bautista took third on the throw. Bautista was later thrown out at home on a ground ball by Mark Grace, but the Diamondbacks still had a 1-0 lead after two.
Meanwhile, Randy Johnson? Struck out the side in the third inning. No big deal. The Big Unit was only the third pitcher in World Series history to notch 7 strike outs in the first three innings of a game, joining Bob Gibson in 1968 and Orlando Hernandez in 1999. He gave up his first baserunner in the fourth inning, with a one out walk to Randy Velarde, and then Jorge Posada managed the Yankees first hit in the fifth. Randy Johnson wasn't bothered, though, and the Yankees didn't manage to get a runner to second until the eighth inning.
Andy Petitte was back to shutting down the Diamondbacks offense. After the second inning, Petitte hit cruise control and cruised through the next four innings. The only DBacks baserunner came with a Matt Williams single in the fifth, but Petitte turned that into an inning-ending double play off the bat of Damien Miller. He was pounding the strike zone- at one point, he had thrown 17 straight strikes. What would have been a very good outing for a World Series game was overshadowed by only two things- Randy Johnson's dominance on the mound... And the seventh inning.
After the seventh inning stretch, Petitte took the mound against the heart of the DBacks lineup. Petitte's first problem came when a pitch came a little too far up and inside, hitting Luis Gonzalez on the left wrist. Trainers checked Gonzo out as he took first base, but he stayed in the game and seemed to be okay. Reggie Sanders grounded to third, but a good slide from Gonzo and some speed from Sanders broke up the double play. Danny Bautista got his second hit of the night, hitting a sharp grounder that deflected off of Petitte's leg to Derek Jeter. Immediately after the broadcast showed us results of a poll, saying that 68% of viewers thought the Yankees shouldn't pull Petitte, Matt Williams took the next pitch deep to left field to give the Diamondbacks a 4-0 lead. Sorry about that one, viewers.
The Yankees tried to mount a rally. They started off the eighth inning with back-to-back singles, but a K and a double play shut that down. New York sent out their 1-2-3 starters in the ninth inning, but Randy Johnson sent them back just as quickly, and the Diamondbacks took a 2-0 lead in the series.
A great outing for Randy Johnson- nine scoreless innings, eleven strikeouts, and he only allowed three hits and a walk.
Remember how, yesterday, everyone was in positive territory, save Curt Schilling's at-bats? Today.... Not so pretty. The three you see up there are the only three who put up a positive win percentage. But when you have Randy Johnson dominating on the mound like that? You can handle it. The Yankees were even worse- they had three positive contributions, as well- Andy Petitte's +2.8% was the best showing they managed.
Comment of the night goes to, of all people, home plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck, talking about what made Randy's outing so successful.
"He'd be throwing 92, 93, then all of a sudden hit 98. I think that surprised [the Yankees]. Johnson had it tonight, he sure did."
Another strong pitching performance, and we find ourselves up 2-0 heading into New York. Was this where I thought we'd be? Well, probably not, though it's a pretty nice feeling. Yankee Stadium won't be a breeze, of course, but you have to feel a little bit more confident than you did a couple of days ago...