- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

NEW YORK When Derek Jeter went tumbling into the front row at Yankee Stadium Oct. 15 to make a spectacular catch in New York's AL Division Series-clinching victory, the all-everything shortstop was on top of the world. You couldn't make it through five minutes of highlights without seeing replays of Jeter's lunging catch against the A's, his game-saving relay throw from Game 3 or one of his eight hits from the series.
Amazing how quickly things can change. Since his circus catch, Jeter had slipped into relative obscurity, entering Game 4 of the World Series last night with just three hits in last 28 at-bats.
That sure reversed itself in a hurry.
Hitless in his in his first four at-bats of the night, Jeter picked a great time to break out of his slump. Facing Arizona Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim in the 10th inning of a tie game, Jeter sent a 3-2, two-out pitch over the short right-field fence at Yankee Stadium for a game-winning homer in New York's thrilling 4-3 victory.
The obvious question facing the Yankee superstar, a career .342 hitter in the World Series, entering the game was whether he was still feeling the effects of the play in the stands.
"I've been asked several times about his physical well-being. I'm sure he's not 100 percent, but he would be the last one to use that as an excuse," New York manager Joe Torre said. "When you get to the World Series, you're going on fumes, you're going on emotion."
Jeter has repeatedly insisted that he's healthy and blamed his slump on the quality pitching he's gone up against, most notably Arizona's Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, who shut down the entire Yankee lineup in Games 1 and 2.
"We ran into two good pitchers who were hot," he said. "Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to them."
The Diamondbacks' dominance of Jeter had came as a pleasant surprise to manager Bob Brenly.
"I don't think you ever shut down Derek Jeter," he said before the game. "We know what a dangerous hitter he is. We consider ourselves very fortunate up to this point to limit his damage and keep him off base."
With his team trailing in the series two games to one, and facing Schilling once again last night, Torre decided to move Jeter in his starting lineup. Not down from his traditional No. 2 spot, but up to the leadoff spot, with Chuck Knoblauch relegated to the bench.
"He's in the 1-spot because Knoblauch is not playing," Torre said. "I don't want to say he's fighting it because he's the same guy whether he's 5-for-5, 0-for-5, 0-for-20 or 20-for-20. He's just not clicking right now. … It would be nice if he had a big game, but, you know, he's spoiled all of us."
Said Jeter: "That's my job, being at the top of the order, getting on base and trying to make things happen. It's a responsibility to get on base when you're at the top of the lineup. You just come out and hopefully make things happen."
It's safe to say he made something happen.

To start or not to start?
Brenly's crucial decision to start Schilling last night on three days' rest impacted not only his staff ace but also the man who was supposed to start Game 4. Miguel Batista was in line to pitch last night; now he will take the mound tonight for Game 5.
Last-minute switches, though, are nothing new for Batista, a journeyman right-hander who won a career-high 11 games and earned a spot in the Diamondbacks' rotation late in the season.
"Affecting me? No, I've been through this the last seven months," Batista said. "Last night a lot of people were asking me about my feelings about how [Brenly] changes his mind about the way he's pitching me."
Like teammates Schilling and Johnson, Batista comes from a different breed. One of the most well-read ballplayers you'll ever find, he has a poster of Albert Einstein in his locker, writes poetry on the side and would like to attend law school someday.
"I have never been around anybody like Miguel Batista," Brenly said. "He is a breath of fresh air. Not that this is a criticism, but if you are not talking about fantasy football or baseball or girls, most ballplayers don't have much to say."

Help wanted
The Yankees technically could be without a manager starting tonight.
When Torre signed a contract that expired Nov. 1, he figured it was safe to assume the baseball season would be complete. But the September 11 terrorist attacks delayed the start of the World Series one week, thus giving us our first taste of November baseball.
Even though his tenure is officially up today, Torre will be in uniform; negotiations with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner have not yet been finalized, but both sides agree that it's only a matter of time.
"I'm not sure this is going to be resolved [in time for tonights game]," Torre said. "I don't think it's going to be any big deal. There are more important things right now at hand. The last thing I want to do is distract what we need to be paying attention to right now, and it's baseball."


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