Ten Years On: Diamondbacks 15, Yankees 2 - No Place Like Home

When the Diamondbacks left Phoenix last week, we had a 2-0 lead in the series and confidence in our hearts. Then we suffered through three consecutive one-run losses in New York, including seeing our (previously reliable) closer give up a game tying home run with two outs in the ninth- twice. With post-season baseball being played in November for the first time in major league history, the Diamondbacks came back home, down 3-2. As the broadcast was so kind to tell us, the Yankees have been here before, and seen success- they're 10-2 in the World Series when they hold a 3-2 lead. Would the Diamondbacks falter? Should we be concerned?

Nah, no problem. See, this may just be our first World Series trip, but that means we're undefeated when we're down 3-2. Randy Johnson was on the mound to make sure we continued that trend.

The Big Unit came out of the gate swinging, and so did the Yankees- first pitch to Chuck Knoblauch got the first out, with an easy flyball to left field. Derek Jeter watched strike three for the second out, and a good grab by Greg Colbrunn, making his first start in the World Series, sent the Yankees down 1-2-3.

In the bottom of the inning, the offense made sure the Yankees didn't think they were going to win it easily. A liner from Tony Womack down the right field line took a strange hop over the fence for the ground rule double, and then Danny Bautista took the first pitch he saw up the middle for an RBI single. Andy Petitte looked like he might be having some control problems, taking Luis Gonzalez to 3-0, with Gonzo swinging at what might have been ball 4, but Gonzo grounded into an unorthodox double play, taking some of the strain off the Yankees. Colbrunn grounded out, but the Diamondbacks still held a 1-0 lead after the first inning.

Petitte ran into more problems in the second inning. Matt Williams singled to right field to start off the inning, and Reggie Sanders followed that with a double to the warning track in center. Williams held up at third, and we had two runners in scoring position with no outs. Jay Bell grounded out, and the Yankees gave Damien Miller an intentional walk to bring up Randy Johnson and set up the force at any base. A sharper grounder to third got Williams out at home, but a bad throw by Scott Brosius meant Jorge Posada couldn't get Johnson out at first for the inning ending double play. And the Yankees would regret that.

Petitte fell behind Tony Womack 3-0 in the count before working it back to a full count. But after fouling off the next pitch, Womack floated a single into center field to bring in Sanders and Miller to score. Danny Bautista came to the plate and laced a ball to center, bringing Randy Johnson around to score from second base. The Big Unit, obviously not quite familiar with the procedure, missed home plate his on his first pass, and had to go back to tag it again. Gonzo struck out looking, leaving runners at the corners, but the Diamondbacks made Petitte work, throwing over 30 pitches, and we had a 4-0 lead after two.

The third inning looked like it might be trouble. Randy Johnson struck out Scott Brosius swinging to start it, but a single and a walk gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position- Andy Petitte, of all people. Derek Jeter grounded into a fielder's choice, with the runner out at second for the second out. Another walk to Bernie Williams loaded the bases. But the Big Unit buckled down and got Jorge Posada to strike out swinging to end the inning.

And then the bottom of the third inning happened.

Petitte was obviously on a short leash: he'd started off each inning poorly, and the third was no different, allowing a leadoff walk and then a double to Matt Williams to put two on. That was the end of his evening, and while he probably wasn't too thrilled with his results, they were about to look even worse. Jay Witasick came in for Petitte, and... Well, here's what his results looked like: single (run scores), single (run scores), single, single (run scores), strike out, single (run scores), double (run scores, runner out at home), single (run scores), double (run scores), strike out. Yeah, that's a performance a player probably wants to forget. He faced ten batters, gave up eight hits, allowed eight runs to score (including both inherited runners) and generally made everyone forget that, just a half inning ago, the Yankees had the tying run at bat. After that offensive outburst, it was a 12-0 ballgame. Given that the Yankees had only scored ten runs in the first five games of the series, it looked like this one was pretty much over.

The Yankees didn't do much to convince us otherwise in the fourth inning. They went down 1-2-3 in the fourth, and then- still had Witasick pitching in the bottom of the inning? Well, I guess if you're going to throw in the towel, might as well just stick with what you've got out there. But while the Yankees might have had a chance at a better inning in the fourth, this time their defense failed them. Witasick managed a swinging K to start the inning, but the ball bounced away from Posada to let Jay Bell reach, and a Damien Miller missed a home run to deep center to give the Diamondbacks another run, but it was still enough to bring Jay Bell in to score. Witasick struck out Randy Johnson, but a single to Tony Womack meant that Witasick's night was mercifully over. Randy Choate came in to replace him, and Danny Bautista hit what might have been a simple double play, save for a bad error by Alfonso Soriano that allowed everyone to reach safely and Miller to score. A single by Gonzo brought Womack in to score from second and put the lead to 15-0.

At this point, it was obvious that everyone had decided that this one was pretty much decided. David Dellucci came in to replace Gonzo. In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees pulled Posada, Jeter, and Tino Martinez. As early as the third inning, one of the main topics of discussion in the broadcast booth was wondering how long we'd see Randy Johnson stay on the mound. Would they pull him early so he'd be able to pitch for Game Seven tomorrow? Randy pitched seven innings, so will that be the last we see of him this year? Depends on which side of the broadcast booth you asked...

Those replacements for the Yankees might have performed better than the original lineup, though- the only real noise in the game after this point came in sixth inning, when New York put up two runs. That was helped along by a double from Todd Greene (replacing Posada) and an RBI single from Luis Sojo (replacing Martinez). But other than that, it was pretty much just a matter of cruising to the conclusion that had seemed inevitable since the fourth inning. Bobby Witt and Troy Brohawn each pitched a scoreless inning to finish off the Yankees, the Dbacks won 15-2, and we were set for Game Seven.

Graph_medium

Awesome: Tony Womack (+18.7%)
Also Cool: Randy Johnson (+14.9%), Danny Bautista (+13.7%), Reggie Sanders (+10.7%)
Needs Improvement: Luis Gonzalez (-8.3%)

Just enjoy that graph for a moment. According to B-R, the Diamondbacks win percentage hit 100% when Randy Johnson whiffed Shane Spencer for the first out of the fourth inning, and didn't budge after that. I'm sure there's probably some rounding involved there, but it's still pretty impressive. The Diamondbacks got contributions from everyone around the lineup- all the starters had at least one hit and one RBI, and every started scored a run except for Danny Bautista, who went 3 for 4 with 5 RBI. Even Gonzo's night wasn't too bad- he just had his good at-bats later on in the game, after it was too late to nudge the WPA much higher.

Comment of the night goes to Reggie Sanders for what he said after the game:

"Those games in New York were very disappointing for us as a ballclub. We have forgotten about it and moved on. Tonight was a great night for us."

Disappointing for us, too, Reggie, but that game was just what we needed, I think. So, here we are. Game Seven. Roger Clemens will take the mound for the Yankees, and the Diamondbacks will send out Curt Schilling on short rest. One game to decide the whole season, ladies and gentlemen. Make your plans to catch Game Seven, this should be a good one.

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