- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

PHOENIX In a World Series full of unexpected moments, this may have topped them all.
A game-winning homer in the ninth? No, that would have been too predictable at this point.
A 15-2 whitewashing of the New York Yankees by the Arizona Diamondbacks with their season on the line? Nobody could have seen that coming.
But considering all the drama, the intrigue and the sheer madness of this series, a deciding seventh game between the Yankees and Diamondbacks almost seemed inevitable. And Game 7 there will be tonight at Bank One Ballpark, with Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens squaring off in one of the most anticipated pitching matchups in World Series history.
"If the Lord had sent me down in January and had me come up with a dream season, I couldn't have come up with it," Schilling said. "Game 7 against Roger Clemens I'm not that big of a dreamer."
Not since 1985, when Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen faced St. Louis' John Tudor, have two 20-game winners met in Game 7 of the World Series. No disrespect to those two pitchers, but this showdown figures to draw significantly more attention.
Clemens is the most dominating right-hander of his time, a certain Hall of Famer who is just as good (if not better) at 39 than he was in his formative years with the Boston Red Sox and is coming off a seven-inning, three-hit performance in Game 3 of this Series. He also still carries the albatross of being the starting pitcher for the Red Sox in their disastrous Game 6 loss to the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series.
Schilling has only put together one of the most dazzling string of playoff starts in recent history: four wins and an 0.88 ERA in five games, including seven courageous innings on three days' rest against the Yankees in Game 4.
Now the Arizona ace will come back on short rest again to start the biggest game of his life, not to mention in the four-year history of the Diamondbacks.
Said Arizona manager Bob Brenly: "Tomorrow's game is everything."
Game 6 figured to provide a compelling pitching matchup of its own: Randy Johnson versus Andy Pettitte. Only Johnson lived up to the billing.
The Diamondbacks' left-handed ace dominated the Yankees again, allowing only a pair of singles and two walks through five innings before New York finally reached him for two runs in the sixth, snapping Johnson's streak of 14 scoreless innings in the Series.
Not that Arizona needed a brilliant pitching performance last night. Johnson could have been tagged for three grand slams and still earned the win.
Showing no ill effects from their back-to-back devastating losses in New York, the Diamondbacks came back and blew the Yankees out of the water.
"When you have a veteran team, they understand that one game doesn't carry over to the next day," Brenly said. "As heartbreaking as those last two losses in New York were, they had no bearing on what was going to happen in the ballgame tonight."
When Tony Womack doubled and Danny Bautista singled him home to open the first inning, the record crowd of 49,707 at BOB roared with approval, perhaps thinking one run was all Arizona would need behind Johnson.
When Womack fought off a 3-2 pitch from Pettitte with the bases loaded and two outs in the second and dumped it into shallow center field for a two-run single, the crowd roared again, feeling confident about a three-run cushion.
Turns out the Diamondbacks were just getting warmed up. They added another run in the second on Bautista's second RBI single of the night. And when Pettitte let the first two batters reach base in the third, Yankees manager Joe Torre decided he had seen enough.
"He did not look like he had his good command like he had his last time out," Torre said. "It's just one of those things that you don't expect to happen."
Pettitte hardly resembled the same left-hander who outpitched Johnson through much of Game 2 last Sunday. And he hardly resembled the big-game pitcher the Yankees have come to trust in recent postseason play.
"It's disappointing for me to have this start," Pettitte said. "We were ready to close this thing out tonight. I expected a lot more out of myself."
Yet Pettitte's final pitching line six runs and seven hits in two-plus innings was a thing of beauty when compared with the man who followed him for New York. Jay Witasick offered up one of the ugliest performances in Series history. Eight of the first nine Arizona batters Witasick faced got hits off the Yankees' mop-up man, who was forced to stay in the game and take one for the team.
By the time he was mercifully pulled with one out in the fourth, Witasick had given up eight earned runs on 10 hits in 11/3 innings, the most earned runs surrendered by one pitcher in a World Series game.
Numerous series records were set or tied last night. Matt Williams became the first player to hit two doubles in one inning. The Diamondbacks set the record for most hits in a game by the sixth inning when Greg Colbrunn singled up the middle. Reggie Sanders' base hit in the seventh was Arizona's 22nd and final of the night. And the 15-0 lead the Diamondbacks enjoyed after five innings tied the World Series record, duplicated only by the Yankees during their 16-3 trouncing of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 2 of the 1960 Series.
"Nobody likes to get beat up as badly as we did tonight," Torre said. "But the saving grace is it's just one game. It's all perspective."


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