It’s Like Déjà vu All Over Again

This is the fifth entry chronicling the 2001 World Series run of the Arizona Diamondbacks that started with the Five Short Years Ago entry posted on the fifth anniversary of game 1 of that World Series. In a strange scheduling event, two World Series games would be concluded on a single day. With game 4 going extra innings and ending after midnight and game 5 scheduled to start that evening the record books could show 2 games concluded on November 1. This is the first and only World Series ever to be played in November. The timeline was such due to the events of September 11, 2001 and the week delay of the regular season resuming. After handily winning the first two games in Arizona, the Diamondbacks watched the next two games slip from their fingertips. While game 3 could have gone either way, it was the dramatic ending to game 4 that had broken the hearts of Diamondbacks fans and given Yankee fans new life. Thursday November 1, 2001 was especially difficult for me. I endured no end to the pain as I had a steady stream of phone calls and visits to my office. Most of the people came by to talk about the game and ask my opinion on Bob Brenly leaving Kim in too long. Others stopped by to say they had seen me on television the night before and did Fox News really go trick-or-treating with my kids. Then there were a few Yankee fans who had to stop by and remind me that they had won 26 world championships and soon would add another. Finally there was my family who seemed to call almost hourly just to make sure I wasn’t suicidal or to ask me to pick up milk (which may make me suicidal if the lines at the grocery store cause me to miss any of game 5). No matter how badly I felt, I am sure it was nothing compared to what Byung-Hyun Kim felt today. Little did we realize that history has a cruel way of reminding us of past mistakes.

The New York Yankees would send pitcher Mike Mussina to the mound to face the Diamondbacks. Arizona would counter with Miguel Batista who had been moved back a day when Curt Schilling pitched game 4 on 3 days rest. The game started as the other two in New York, a lot of great pitching. The Diamondbacks and Yankees found themselves in a scoreless tie through 4 innings. In the top of the fifth the Diamondbacks were still looking for their second hit of the game. Steve Finley began the inning and hit a monster home run to give Arizona the lead. After Reggie Sanders and Mark Grace recorded outs, back-up catcher Rod Barajas came to the plate and got one of the biggest hits of his career when he deposited the ball beyond the outfield fence to give the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead. Batista threw 7.2 innings allowing only 5 hits and striking out 6 batters. Greg Swindell came in to close out the eighth inning and preserve the shut-out. The Diamondbacks attempted to get an insurance run when Finley singled to lead off the inning. The rally quickly crumbled with Sanders forced Finley out on a ground ball to third before Mark Grace hit into a double play. So with a 2-0 lead Bob Brenly again brought in his closer Byung-Hyun Kim to finish the game. You had to give Brenly credit for showing confidence in the young man. The confidence quickly turned to fear when Posada started the inning with a double down the left field line. Kim then got Shane Spencer to ground out to third and struck out Chuck Knoblauch again putting the Diamondbacks 1 out away from victory. Scott Brosius came to the plate and hit a home run. For the second straight night Kim came in and blew the save in dramatic fashion and allowed the Yankees back in the game. Mike Morgan came in to get Alfonso Soriano out to end the ninth and send the game into extra innings.

The tenth inning both teams went quietly forcing an eleventh. The Diamondbacks mounted a charge in the eleventh with two singles by Danny Bautista and Erubiel Durazo putting runners on first and second with no outs. Power hitter Matt Williams laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position with 1 out. Steve Finley was intentionally walked to load the bases. Reggie Sanders flied out to Alfonzo Soriano and the inning ended when Mark Grace forced out Durazo at third. The Yankees again went down in order moving the game into the twelfth inning.

The Diamondbacks went down in order in the twelfth bringing us to the bottom of 12. Chuck Knoblauch led off with a single to center. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Scott Brosius. Alfonzo Soriano singled to right field. Reggie Sanders threw to the plate but one hopped Barajas allowing Knoblauch to score the winning run. For the second night in a row the Diamondbacks starting pitchers left with their team leading after 8 innings. According to Elias Sports Bureau it is the first time in World Series history that a team has come back to win after trailing by 2 runs after 8 innings. If I thought today was bad at work I could even imagine what I would have to endure tomorrow. The Diamondbacks left Arizona less than a week ago having a 2-0 lead and now they are headed home facing elimination. The one saving grace is that Randy Johnson is scheduled to pitch on Saturday.

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