Friday, November 02, 2001

Diamondbacks manager on the hot seat




The Associated Press

        NEW YORK - Bob Brenly thought the critics were tough on him before. He hasn't seen or heard anything yet.

        Arizona's first-year manager gave Byung-Hyun Kim a chance for redemption in Game 5 of the World Series, and instead got deja vu with a dagger.

        For the second night in a row, the 22-year-old sidearm closer gave up a game-tying, two-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning — this one to Scott Brosius.

        “He's our closer,” Brenly said. “I talked to him at length this afternoon. I called down to our bullpen coach Glen Sherlock and asked how he was warming up, and he said his stuff was electric.”

        Twice Arizona came within an out of its third World Series victory, only to see it all melt away in the din that is Yankee Stadium at its loudest.

        Now the Yankees are up 3-2.

        “I know there will probably be a lot of differing opinions tomorrow, but like I've said all along, we make our decisions based upon what we see with our eyes,” Brenly said. “We have been around this ballclub all season long. We know what our guys are capable of doing and the matchups we like.

        “Everything doesn't always work out the way you hope it will.”

        After New York's 3-2, 12-inning victory Thursday night, it will be up to Randy Johnson to keep the Yankees from a fourth consecutive title when the Series shifts to Arizona for Game 6.

        Kim had thrown 62 pitches the previous night, surrendering the game-tying home run to Tino Martinez, and the game-winner to Derek Jeter with two outs in the 10th.

        Yet Brenly called on him again to pitch the ninth after Miguel Batista, with late help from Greg Swindell, had blanked the Yankees for eight innings.

        “He assured me that he was fine and he wanted to pitch. He wanted the ball,” Brenly said of Kim. “When I got the reports of how he warmed up, there was no reason not to put him out there.”

        Rod Barajas, a last-minute addition to the lineup because Damian Miller had a strained right calf, homered in his first postseason start. So did Steve Finley, and Arizona led 2-0.

        Brenly yanked Kim as soon as Brosius' homer cleared the left-field fence and brought in 42-year-old Mike Morgan, who shut down New York through the 11th.

        Then Brenly made another move bound to be discussed. He gave the ball to Albie Lopez, a 19-game loser in the regular season who had two awful starts in the postseason and hadn't pitched in the Series.

        Chuck Knoblauch led off the 12th with a single, then advanced to second on Brosius' sacrifice bunt. Alfonso Soriano singled to right, and it was over.

        Batista was asked about the criticism Brenly was bound to hear.

        “The leader who can't accept criticism can't lead,” Batista said. “If Kim would have gone out there and got that out, he would be a hero. That's part of this game. You have to be willing to take criticism. He threw him again. That's his closer. That's what he gets paid for.”

        On radio talk shows and sports pages from coast to coast, Brenly had been ripped for his tactics in Game 4, and he didn't like it.

        Before Game 5, he called second-guessing “the lowest form of journalism.”

        In an uncharacteristic show of defensiveness, he insisted that Curt Schilling was spent after seven strong innings in Game 4. In that one, Kim got through the eighth with no problem, but not the ninth.

        To add fuel to his critics, Brenly stayed with Kim for a third inning in Game 4, setting him up to be the loser when Jeter hit his 12:04 a.m. home run.

        Brenly quickly made his reputation as one who makes unconventional moves. He called a suicide squeeze with one out runners on first and third with the score tied 2-2 in the deciding Game 5 of the division series with St. Louis.

        Tony Womack got an unbuntable pitch from Steve Kline and the runner was out at home. But Womack followed with the game-winning single, and Brenly was off the hook.

        Brenly's luck ran out when the Diamondbacks got to Yankee Stadium, where mistakes are magnified and the heroics usually come from the home team.

        Brenly gave up his job as a baseball television analyst to become a manager. Early Friday morning, when the Yankees scored the winning run, that broadcast booth halfway up in the stands might have looked awfully inviting.

       



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