- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

PHOENIX As the ball sailed into the New York night and the magnitude of what had just occurred began to sink in, Joe Torre could think of only one thing.
"It's 'Groundhog Day,'" the Yankees manager said, referring to the movie in which Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over again.
On their own merits, Scott Brosius' ninth-inning, two-out, Game 5-tying home run and Alfonso Soriano's 12th-inning game-winning single late Thursday night would qualify as great World Series moments. That they came 24 hours after Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter had done similar things to the same Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher, closer Byung-Hyun Kim, made it downright mind-boggling.
"It was unbelievable," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who was standing on second base when Brosius hit his home run. "Even in the Series, nothing happens like this."
Even in the regular season, nothing had ever happened like this not to the Yankees, who have won a record 26 championships in every fashion imaginable. In their storied history, New York had never hit game-tying homers in the ninth inning in back-to-back games. And no team had won back-to-back postseason games when trailing after eight innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It's been a storybook Series," said retiring outfielder Paul O'Neill, who was given his own emotional sendoff by the Yankee Stadium crowd Thursday night. "New York needs this. Everybody needs this."
Try telling that to the Diamondbacks, who could be hoisting the World Series trophy right now had they been able to record one more out in Game 4 and one more out in Game 5. Instead, this shell-shocked team returned home yesterday needing to win Game 6 tonight at Bank One Ballpark to force a deciding Game 7 tomorrow night.
"It's difficult," Arizona third baseman Matt Williams said after the stunning 3-2 loss. "But that's baseball, and that's the way it goes."
It didn't have to go that way for the Diamondbacks, who had shrugged off the devastation of their Game 4 loss to take a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning. Miguel Batista, a journeyman pitcher who spent the season in relative obscurity while teammates Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson stole all the attention, pitched the game of his life 7-2/3 scoreless innings on the grandest stage of them all.
But with his starter showing signs of fatigue in the eighth after throwing 126 pitches, Arizona manager Bob Brenly turned the game over to his much-maligned bullpen. Left-hander Greg Swindell got the last out of the eighth, setting the stage once again for Kim, who entered in the ninth amid a roar from the stadium crowd with the memories of the previous night still fresh in everyone's minds.
"He's our closer," said Brenly, justifying his decision to bring Kim back after his disastrous 62-pitch appearance the night before. "He wanted the ball in that situation. He made a bad pitch, a slider that hung over the inside of the plate to Scott Brosius."
Brosius, the 1998 World Series MVP but stuck in a 2-for-15 slump, clobbered the waist-high pitch over the left-field fence. The stadium shook to its core. The Yankees dugout erupted. Brenly sat wide-eyed in disbelief. And the 22-year-old Korean pitcher, having gone through the same scenario one night earlier, looked as if he were about to cry.
Back on the New York side, the thrill of the moment gave way to an important recognition.
"You've got tons of emotion from hitting the home run, but at the same time you realize that the game is still tied," Brosius said. "So it's weird, you go from this high to all of a sudden you have to get yourself back together again and realize there's still some game left to play."
Three innings later, the Yankees were able to let it all out. With Chuck Knoblauch on second and one out in the 12th, Soriano singled to right field off Albie Lopez, and Knoblauch beat Reggie Sanders' skipped throw to the plate. Ballgame over. Cue Frank Sinatra.
"These guys for some reason believe that they can come back no matter what the situation is because they have done it so many times," said Mike Mussina, who started the game for New York. "And the more it happens, the more they feed off that and believe that the game is not over until there's 27 outs up there."
Actually, the World Series is far from over. The Yankees, after sweeping three games at home, have a 3-2 advantage. Arizona, though, has Johnson returning to the mound tonight and possibly Schilling coming back on short rest again for Game 7.
It's no longer a certainty that the Diamondbacks' ace will make his third start of the Series. He reportedly was more physically drained than he thought he would be after coming back on three days' rest to start Game 4 and met with his manager the next day to discuss his availability.
"I told him I was sore," Schilling said yesterday. "I mean, it was 299 innings into the season, and the seven hardest ones I threw were the last seven. So I was sore, but it's amazing what 48 hours and some baseball will do for you."
Brenly has not yet announced his starting pitcher for a Game 7 but acknowledged that he may have to dig into his bag of tricks and use several pitchers a few innings each if Schilling is not ready to go.
"I think at this point we are just going to have to wait and see how Curt feels," he said. "He expressed some concern [Thursday] that he was a little more taxed physically that he thought he would be after pitching in Game 4. So we're just going to have to play it by ear."


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