Today’s entry is the fourth in the continuation of describing the saga of the 2001 World Series run of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It started with the Five Short Years Ago entry posted on October 26, 2006. It was a heartbreaking loss but not completely unexpected. The Diamondbacks had outplayed the Yankees but the breaks just did not go their way. Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly decided to gamble a little and shuffle his pitching staff moving game 1 starter Curt Schilling up to pitch game 4 on 3 days rest. This would move Miguel Batista one day to pitch game 5 the next day. It was clear from Brenly’s actions that he felt game 4 was critical for the Diamondbacks.
Besides game 4 of the World Series, today was also Halloween. So while I was just excited to see the next installment of this World Series, the kids had other ideas in mind. Namely, they were excited to dress up and go trick-or-treating. This of course was another dilemma I would have to overcome when juggling family and baseball. And as if that were not enough, the events described in Game 2 Memories would come back to have relevance as well.
I happened to be at work trying to get through all of my email and documentation when I received a phone call. Absently I answered the phone with my mind 2153 miles away. On the other end of the call was the local Fox affiliate calling to get a read on what I thought about the game the night before. We went through the events of the previous night including my description of the whole pumpkin walk episode. Halfway through the conversation they were laughing so hard that I thought maybe they may need medical attention. They then asked what I was going to do about tonight since they didn’t think the kids were going to be content staying home watching the game. They had a valid point. I thought I might be able to bribe the kids by buying each of them a bag of candy but that idea was quickly shot down. I also thought about rolling my television along the streets of the neighborhood so I could watch the game while trick-or-treating but I didn’t have a long enough extension cord and besides I would have to retrace every step I made just to get the cord wound back up. I finally ended up with a 2 phased approach. I would take a radio to listen to individual pitches but if something should happen in the game that I definitely wanted to see, I would ask the neighbors if I could watch the replay while they handed out candy to the kids. This just might work. Well Fox wanted in on this and asked if it would be ok if they came to the house and went trick-or-treating with us. I figured why not, what could it hurt? Yeah this is probably another one of those times when I should have talked to Trina and the kids before answering.
So as the kids got ready and put on their costumes I was looking for extra batteries for the boom box just in case the game went long. As we got ready to leave the house the doorbell rang. Trina grabbed the candy dish to greet the trick-or-treaters that had begun their rounds. When she opened the door she was blinded by a light attached to a television camera and a reporter began asking questions about the pumpkin walk and her husband’s enthusiasm (they may have used the word obsession but I am not sure) with the Diamondbacks. Trina looked like a deer in headlights and managed to get through the questions they had. It was when they explained that they were there to go trick-or-treating with us that things started to deviate from normal. I had to do some smooth talking to assure everyone that this would be fine and no one would think it was weird. Ok maybe I exaggerated that just a little bit. So we set out on a walking tour of the neighborhood. I stood at the street listening to the game while the kids and the camera crew went to each house. I wished I would have had a camera of my own just to capture the looks on the faces of the neighbors as they opened up their door with candy in hand and found Fox news broadcasting from their front steps. There were positive points to this though; when you trick-or-treat with a news crew you get a lot more and better candy.
No one knew what to expect from Schilling including Schilling himself. He had never pitched on 3 days rest in his big league career so we were in uncharted territory. Through the first 2 innings he was perfect going 3-up and 3-down in each. In the third inning Schilling made a mistake to Shane Spencer who drove the ball out of the ballpark giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. The Diamondbacks themselves struggled against Orlando Hernandez but tied the game in the fourth inning on a home run by Mark Grace to the upper deck in right field. The game remained tied 1-1 until the Diamondbacks eighth inning when Luis Gonzalez singled to center then scored on a double by Eurbiel Durazo who went to third on the throw to home. Matt Williams reached on a fielders choice when they attempted to throw out pinch runner Midre Cummings (running for Durazo) at the plate. The inning ended with the Diamondbacks up 3-1 and looking as if they would take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series. Schilling pitched 7 innings allowing 3 hits and 1 run while striking out 9.
Taking a page out of Joe Torre’s book, Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly brought in his closer Byung-Hyun Kim in the eighth inning. Kim was masterful striking out the side. After the Diamondbacks went down in order in the ninth inning, they found themselves 3 outs away from a win in Yankee Stadium. Jeter started the inning grounding out on a bunt attempt to third. Paul O’Neill singled to left and Bernie Williams struck out meaning the Diamondbacks needed only 1 out for the win. Tino Martinez came to the plate and connected on a Kim fastball planting it in the seats tying the game. I sat there in shock at what had just happened. Luckily the Fox crew had left with their own small bags of candy in tow so they didn’t see the worried look on my face. Kim then walked Posada and David Justice singled to put the winning run in scoring position. Shane Spencer struck out to end the inning and send the game into extra innings. Mariano Rivera pitched the tenth inning retiring the Diamondbacks in order. In the bottom of the tenth Brenly allowed Kim to return to the mound and I thought to myself this could be the defining moment of the series. Scott Brosius flied to right and Alfonzo Soriano flied to left for the first two outs. Derek Jeter came to the plate. The scoreboard flashed the text, welcome to November baseball as the clock struck midnight in New York City. Jeter hit a ball to right field clearing the fence for a walk-off home run. And just like that the series was tied 2 games a piece.
I stood there is total disbelief. On a night filled with ghouls and goblins the improbable happened. The Yankees had come back and won their second game while being totally dominated during the majority of the contest and against one of the Diamondbacks two aces. Joe Torre had said that to win the championship they had to beat either Johnson or Schilling at least once and now they had done just that. Schilling had thrown one of the best games of his career and then had to watch as it unraveled before his eyes.