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20 years ago today: Deja blew, all over again...



This is the only sporting event in my life which has ever provoked an actual physical feeling of nausea. When - and stop me if you’ve heard this before - Byung-Hyun Kim allowed a game-tying two-run home-run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, I genuinely felt sick. I remember the sensation to this day; it was as if I’d gone from solid ground, to being tossed around on the world’s worst roller-coaster in the blink of an eye, the earth wrenched out from underneath my feet. It was such an utter repeat of the previous night’s disaster, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the series. The D-backs had come into New York 2-0 up. They left, needing to win not one but two elimination games.

What WAS Bob Brenly thinking? His closer had thrown SIXTY-ONE pitches the previous night. I understand the need to put that fiasco behind Kim, but there’s a point where more mundane considerations had to take priority over redemption. The Yankees fans “reacted in jubilation” = and who can blame them - when Kim entered this game in the ninth, this time seeking to preserve a 2-0 lead. He gave up a lead-off double, but then settled down to retire Shane Spencer and Chuck Knoblauch, once more to come within an out of securing Arizona’s third win of the series. But Scott Brosius had other ideas, and delivered what was only the Yankees’ second hit with a runner in scoring position of the series.

It may have taken until the bottom of the 12th inning before Alfonso Soriano had a walk-off single against Albie Lopez. But the three innings which followed the above at-bat seemed almost irrelevant - Mystique and Aura had been summoned to the main stage by the home-run, and Yankee victory felt inevitable. Though the Diamondbacks had their chances, even in extra innings. They loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 11th, only for Reggie Sanders to line out and Mark Grace to ground out - the D-backs were 0-for-8 with RISP on the night. Mike Morgan did his part too, tossing 2.1 innings of perfect relief after taking over from Kim. But Lopez needed only seven pitches in the 12th to take the L.

Lost in the loss, as it were, was perhaps the greatest outing of Miguel Batista’s career. The starting pitcher may have been as known for his poetry- and novel-writing, but his work on the mound on this night was a masterpiece. Batista tossed 7.2 shutout innings, scattering five hits and walking five, while striking out six. He threw 126 pitches, while his opposite number, Mike Mussina, threw 125 in his eight innings of two-run ball. It was the end of an era. No World Series pitcher since has thrown more than 122 pitchers, never mind both starters doing so in the Fall Classic. Batista and Mussina both poured out everything they had that night, and it was cruel for Batista to be robbed of a thoroughly-deserved World Series decision.


It was a pair of solo home-runs in the fifth inning, which put Batista and the Diamondbacks in that position. Steve Finley led off the inning, breaking the scoreless tie by getting all of a 1-2 change-up from Mussina. Right-fielder Paul O’Neill, making his final appearance in Yankee Stadium, took just a couple of steps before giving up, and an eerie silence settled in on the park, as Finley rounded the bases, with the applause from the visitor’s dugout the loudest noise to be heard. Two outs later, catcher Rod Barajas (seen above, consoling Kim after the home-run) doubled the lead, also on a 1-2 pitch from Mussina. He had been a late addition to the line-up, and this was only his second at-bat of the entire post-season.

That was it, however, for the offense. Barajas and Finley combined for five of the D-backs’ eight hits, the outfielder getting three, and Grace had a pair of walks. But that was all forgotten in the light of subsequent events. If Halloween had been a night of horrors for Kim in Yankee Stadium, the sequel to that movie proved even more traumatic. Despite their pitching staff having conceded only ten runs during the five games and 47 innings to this point - a World Series ERA of 1.91 - Arizona found themselves returning to Phoenix, staring into an abyss. While Kim was the obvious target, going 1-for-19 with RISP in New York certainly has to be considered a factor.

But where there’s life, there’s hope. And with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling lined up to start the final two games, the D-backs were not dead yet... Below is the full broadcast - all four hours and 49 minutes of it! If you just want the baseball, here it is.