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20 Years ago today. Tip your hat... and your pitches

Let’s just say: considerably more fun than Games 4 + 5.

World Series GM6 X

If the Diamondbacks were going down, we were going to watch it happen. Short of buying tickets to the game - and, hey, I’d been in the country less than a year, so wasn’t sure if this whole baseball thing was going to stick - we wanted to see it on the biggest screen possible. That took us to Farrelli’s Cinema Supper Club, in the strip-mall on the corner of Thunderbird and Scottsdale Road. It was really an idea ahead of it’s time, being a “dinner cinema” before such things were common: you could order a full meal from your seat while watching a movie. In 2001, it was a thoroughly novel experience, and it closed in 2011 - not all that long before such things became widespread.

Anyway, they announced they were playing Game Six and (if necessary) Game Seven on their screen. I’m not sure if they had the necessary authorization for that from MLB, but it did not stop us from booking a table and settling in nervously. From the third inning on, there was a stream of people getting up from their table, and going to the hostess desk to book a table for the following night, as it became increasingly obvious that, yes, there would be a Game 7. For the Diamondbacks destroyed the Yankees, 15-2. There has still been only one larger margin in World Series history, all the way back in 1936 when the Yankees beat the Giants 18-4. It hasn’t even been matched in my lifetime, the last time being 1960.

Really, if Games 3-5 were statements that the Yankees would not go quietly, Game 6 was equally as much a pronouncement. Probably something about taking off and nuking the site from orbit, as the Diamondbacks were 15-0 up by the end of the fourth inning. They had sent 32 men to the plate by that point, with five different D-backs having had four PAs in four innings. It helped that New York starter Andy Pettitte was tipping his pitches. Mark Grace noticed it in Game 2: If Pettitte delayed a fraction longer out of the stretch, he was throwing a fastball. No delay = curveball. That’s all major-league hitters needed, and Pettitte was toast, gone after two innings of six-run baseball.

Late update: Curt Schilling tweeted about the game earlier today, saying Pettitte “was tipping as bad as anyone I ever saw.” But he says it was more to do with the pitcher’s positioning of his glove.

However, that doesn’t entirely explain things, as the D-backs piled on even harder against the Yankees bullpen. Poor Jay Witasick allowed nine runs (eight earned) while retiring only four batters (and one was on a TOOTBLAN). No pitcher had allowed nine runs in a World Series game since Walter Johnson in 1925, and Witasick is still the sole reliever to do so in post-season history. Comparison: team-mate Mariano Rivera allowed the same number of earned runs over his final eighty-four playoff innings, over 10 different post-seasons, as Witasick did in 1.1 frames that evening. It’s was the pitcher’s final appearance for New York, but he didn’t retire, lasting six more years in the majors, with a decent 3.62 ERA in 293 IP.

The Diamondbacks hitters, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed the night. Perhaps none more so than Danny Bautista, He had one World Series trip to the plate previous to that night, a single in the 11th inning of Game 5. But he drove in five runs on three hits, those five RBI in a World Series game adding Bautista to an exclusive club with only 26 members, including Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Gary Sheffield. Tony Womack and Matt Williams also ended the night with three hits, while Reggie Sanders ended with four. The total of 22 hits pounded out by the D-backs - in only eight home innings, natch! - remains a World Series record. No other team has even reached twenty since the Cardinals in 1946.

Almost lost was Randy Johnson going seven innings, allowing two garbage runs and exiting after 104 pitches - basically a light workout by his standards - so as to be able to pitch in Game 7. Bobby Witt and Troy Brohawn tidied up. There, that’s enough about the pitching. What is perhaps most remarkable is, the D-backs got 22 hits without anything more than a double, notching 16 singles and 6 two-baggers. Obviously, they’re the one team to have done that in the playoffs. But even in the regular season, one National League team has managed that since 2009 - the Marlins on July 8, 2018. The offensive outburst meant that, over the first six games, the D-backs had outscored the Yankees by a 34-12 margin.

However, all that mattered is that the series was tied 3-3, and there would be a winner take all Game 7 at Bank One Ballpark on November 4....