October 31, 2001
The Daily Prospectus
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.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.