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October 31, 2001

The Daily Prospectus

Game Three

by Joe Sheehan

And just like that, we have a series.

Last night's game was another in the endless string of pitchers' duels this October, which comes as something of a surprise to the many people--OK, to the me--who dismissed Brian Anderson as a hunch play who had no business starting a World Series game. He ended up taking the loss, but that doesn't detract from his performance in keeping the Diamondbacks in the game.

He had help. Not from his teammates, though, who spent a good portion of the night channeling the NLCS version of the Braves. The Diamondbacks made three errors (two, admittedly, on wind-blown popups), had one runner caught stealing and another one picked off, and scratched out just three singles in the whole game.

What helped Anderson--and his counterpart, Roger Clemens--the most was Dale Scott's generosity. Scott, who must have spent the off day watching Eric Gregg's video, "Blue: The Art of Playoff Umpiring," had a strike zone that generally extended from about the Grand Concourse to the East River. Worse still, he was inconsistent, calling pitches well off the plate strikes on, say, an 0-0 count, but calling the same pitches balls when there were two strikes.

Scott's zone helped both pitchers, but I'd venture to say it was critical to Anderson, who works east-to-west rather than north-to-south, and was able to stay ahead of Yankee hitters most of the night. Credit him with making just one bad pitch--the one Jorge Posada hit into the bullpen--and staying as far outside as Scott would let him.

The Yankees aren't exactly impressing people. They got the win, but their offense still hasn't arrived, and if they can't do something with Brian Anderson, it's hard to take their chances against Curt Schilling seriously. They're hitting .144/.198/.200 in the World Series.

The time to figure it out is now, because Schilling will probably start Game Four. It might be time for Joe Torre to move Derek Jeter into the leadoff spot, put Shane Spencer in left field for the defense and bench Chuck Knoblauch, or maybe start Randy Velarde at DH. Knoblauch is 0-for-12 in this series and 1-for-22 since Game 2 of the ALCS, and looks every bit of it at the plate.

What the Yankees really need is a random extra left-handed bat, but there are none on the roster, so any solution is going to be suboptimal.

  • On a night the Diamondbacks played poor defense, the Yankee defense shone. Shane Spencer made the biggest play of the game, a diving catch of Matt Williams's sinking line drive in the sixth with two runners on base. Just prior to that, Alfonso Soriano kept an Erubiel Durazo ground ball in the infield, saving a run.

    In my mind, though, the play of the game was Mariano Rivera's unassisted putout of Craig Counsell on Counsell's eighth-inning bunt attempt. It's real easy to panic on that play, to rush to the ball or to get caught between a tag and a throw. Rivera calmly made the snag, secured the ball, and tagged a diving Counsell.

    (Counsell apparently didn't get the memo. Journeymen second basemen bunting for a hit while leading off the eighth inning of a postseason game against the Yankees are allowed to run as far out of the baseline as they care to. See Cora, Joey.)

  • There were a couple of great at-bats last night, most notably the Williams vs. Rivera battle that closed out the game. Alfonso Soriano made Anderson throw 13 pitches before flying to center to end a fifth-inning threat.

  • Speaking of Soriano: what the hell was he doing being allowed to swing on 3-0 in sixth inning? With runners on second and third, two outs, and a chance to load the bases, I cannot believe that Joe Torre wouldn't have had him take a pitch. It's hard to know whose decision that was, but there's definitely enough blame to go around.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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