Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1, 2001: Déjà vu

BRONX, N.Y. - Byung-Hyun Kim crouched on the mound, sitting on his heels, his head down. He couldn't believe he had done it again. Seeing him, his teammates quickly surrounded him, trying everything they could to pump him up, keep his spirits up, but it was to no avail. He was completely defeated.

It really seemed improbable. For the second straight game, the Diamondbacks had given a two-run lead to their closer for the ninth inning. For the second straight game, he had gotten two outs in the ninth. For the second straight game, the Yankees had hit a two-out home run to tie the game.

Where the hero for the Yankees the night before was Tino Martinez, the hero for game 5 was Scott Brosius, the Yankees no. 8 hitter who had been hitting a tepid .160 in the series up to that point. But he connected on a 1-0 pitch, sending the ball into the left field bleachers and giving the Yankees another stunning comeback.

In game 4, after Kim had given up the home run to Martinez, he was allowed to stay in the game and was on the mound when Derek Jeter his the game-winning home run the next inning. That wasn't an option here. Seeing the obvious mental anguish Kim was in, the Diamondbacks replaced him immediately.

Arizona almost bounced back to save their closer, as the first two batters in the top of the 11th reached against the great Mariano Rivera. After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, the Diamondbacks had the bases loaded with one out, a golden opportunity. But Rivera wiggled out of the jam, getting a line drive to the second baseman and a groundball force out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 12th, the inevitable happened. The Yankees got a one-out single from Alfonso Soriano to win the game and take a 3 games to 2 lead in the series. They had the series lead, and with two straight dramatic comebacks, they had all the momentum. Aside from that, they also had made Arizona's closer emotionally useless - the Diamondbacks had to know that if they had a save situation in the next two games, they probably wouldn't be able to turn to Kim. But Arizona did have one advantage - their starting pitchers for the next two games were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the two best pitchers in baseball that year. The Yankees would have to figure out a way to beat one of those two if they were going to win the series.

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