Sunday, November 04, 2001

Diamondbacks force Game 7

Arizona hammers record 22 hits in 15-2 victory

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHOENIX — There's talk that this World Series could go down as the greatest ever. Well, Game 6 has a chance to go down as the worst ever. The Arizona Diamondbacks, back from three gut-wrenching, heartbreaking losses in New York, slapped the three-time defending world champion Yankees silly 15-2 Saturday night before a Bank One Ballpark-record crowd of 49,707.

        The blowout may have been as stunning as the Yankees' back-to-back comebacks from two runs down with one out to go in Games4 and 5 Wednesday and Thursday.

        “It's a freak thing,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. “What it means is we won a ballgame and forced Game7.”

        So we go to Game 7 at 7:55p.m. EST today at the BOB. It's a dream matchup: Curt Schilling, 22-6 in the regular season, will face Roger Clemens, 20-3.

        “You couldn't come up with this,” Schilling said. “Roger Clemens. The Yankees. Game 7. How cool is that?”

        “It should be a marquee matchup,” New York Joe

        Torre said. “The fans are in for a treat.”

        Game 6 was an unprecedented thumping. Consider:

        • The Diamondbacks set the World Series record for hits in World Series game (22) by the sixth inning. The old record was 20 by the 1921 New York Giants and the 1946 St. Louis Cardinals.

        • The D'backs all but decided the game before it was time to put the kids to bed with an eight-run, 10-hit third inning.

        “It was amazing how it went on and on,” Yankee starter Andy Pettitte said, “almost as amazing as the home runs we hit in Games3 and 4.”

        • Yankees reliever Jay Witasick made Byung-Hyun Kim look like Cy Young. He went 1 1/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and nine runs, eight earned. It was the most earned runs ever allowed by a pitcher in a Series game.

        • Every D'backs starter, including pitcher Randy Johnson, had a hit and a RBI.

        It got so bad that Torre considered using a position player to pitch.

        “(Paul) O'Neill volunteered,” Torre said. “You don't want to do that in the postseason. But we didn't want (Mike) Stanton to go more than two innings.”

        All the offense was unnecessary with Johnson on the mound. He pushed his record to 4-1 this postseason, going seven innings, allowing two runs and six hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

        It was somewhat surprising that Brenly didn't pull him after five innings with the score 15-0, so he'd be available for Game 7. Johnson said he could still pitch.

        “I only threw 103 pitches,” Johnson said. “It's the World Series. It's Game 7. I have four months to rest. If I can help, I'm available.”

        History is still on New York's side. The Yankees have had 3-games-to-2 leads in the World Series 12 times. They've won 10 of those series, including nine straight. In three of the nine, they won in Game 7.

        Brenly shook up his lineup. He started Danny Bautista in center, Greg Colbrunn at first and Jay Bell at second, benching Steve Finley, Mark Grace and Craig Counsell.

        Part of it was left-hander Pettitte, who was starting for New York. Part of it was Arizona was struggling offensively. Counsell was 0-for-19 since his homer in Game 1. Grace was hitting .133 in the series. Finley was coming off a three-hit game.

        It worked, of course. Bautista had three hits and five RBI. He is 6-for-8 with six RBI in the series.

        Tony Womack led off the game with a double. Brenly, oddly enough, let Bautista swing away. He grounded a base hit through the middle to score Womack. Womack had reached base to lead off an inning four times in Games 3 and 4, and the Diamondbacks failed to get him in each time.

        The early success was a sign of things to come.

        The D'backs scored three runs in the second to take a 4-0 lead.

        “That was basically the ballgame,” Pettitte said, “with Randy on the mound.”

        The D'backs broke it open in their half of the third. Colbrunn walked. Matt Williams doubled for his sixth hit in 12 at-bats against Pettitte. After Reggie Sanders singled in a run, Pettitte was done. His line: two innings pitched, seven hits, six runs, one walk, one strikeout.

        “I expected a lot more out of myself, especially in the postseason,” Pettitte said. “It was a shock. I didn't expect It would get a lot worse.”

        Witasick came on in relief and gave up hits to eight of his first nine batters.

        “When we got behind five, six runs, we didn't want to use up the bullpen, so (Witasick) had to suck it up,” Torre said.

        D'backs 12, Yankees 0.

        And thoughts turned to Game 7, which is the first matchup of 20-game winners in Game 7 of the series since St. Louis' John Tudor faced Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen. KC won that 11-0.

        This is the first time in the Yankees' six-year run that they've gone to Game 7 in the World Series. In fact, it's the first time since 1964 the Yankees have played Game7. They are 5-5 in their history in Game 7s.

Game 6 box score
SULLIVAN: Snakes bite back
Clemens' tongue-lashing inspired Schilling
Destiny deserts Yanks in desert
Diamondbacks shrug off heartbreaking losses
Even Zimmer hasn't seen it all

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