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World Series 2001
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11/01/2001 03:56 PM ET
Browne: Yanks have way of finding a way
The Yankees rally, courtesy of Tino Martinez (above) and Derek Jeter, marked the first time since 1929 a team has come back from two or more runs down in the bottom of the ninth to win a World Series game.
Jeter's HR: 56k | 300k
Tino's HR: 56k | 300k Daily Web Show: 56k | 300k

NEW YORK -- One out from a situation too bleak perhaps even for these Yankees, the three-time defending world champions had a choice in the late stages of Game 4 of the World Series Wednesday night.

They could let the magnitude of the situation engulf them with panic. By the way, that would have been the natural reaction.

It's just that since 1996, these Yankees haven't gone the logical route very often.

Instead, they find ways to look at gloomy situations with defiance. That's what the great champions do. And once again, the Yankees proved that's what they are.

And so it was that another chapter was written in a barely believable 4-3 victory etched out by the Yankees in 10 innings on a Halloween night the Bronx faithful aren't likely to forget any time soon.

This World Series is now tied 2-2. It's suddenly a best-of-three. Hard not to like the Yankees -- gunning for their fifth championship in six years -- in that scenario.

Especially with Mike Mussina -- steaming after his Game 1 drubbing -- going against unheralded Arizona righty Miguel Batista in Game 5 on Thursday.

"I'll tell you what, what an incredible team we have here. Regardless of how well we've been pitched or how tough the pitcher is on the mound, we just keep going up there with confidence in ourselves and we get the job done."

--Mike Stanton

In the aftermath of the riveting victory, it's tough not to lose sight of how preciously close the run was to being done. Two runs down, just one out left and the Yankees were taking futile swings all night, just as they had all series.

Down to out No. 27 -- the first 26 outs had produced 13 strikeouts -- the Yankees themselves were probably the only people in the stadium who thought they still had a chance. The place was, well, a little quiet. Eerily quiet.

Out No. 27 didn't come soon enough. Instead, Tino Martinez took a pitch down the pike from Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim (welcome to the World Series kid) and smashed it over the right-center field fence. That two-run homer not only tied it up, but utterly changed the complexion of a World Series the Diamondbacks were primed to claim.

After Martinez's unlikely mash (he was 0-for-the Series at that point), it was just a matter of time. Again, give the Yankees life and they'll stomp on you. Derek Jeter (fittingly baseball's first Mr. November) played the obligatory role of executioner, looping a walkoff homer just over the right field fence in the bottom of the 10th.

So where did this one rank?

"You know, it's just got to be at the top," said manager Joe Torre, almost beside himself. "Surprising things happen, and yet when you really think about it, it doesn't surprise you because this ballclub never quits."


Instead of delivering that message in a subtle way to the Diamondbacks, the Yankees hammered them over the head with it.

A loss would have sent the Yankees down 3-1 in the series. Sure, the Yankees have come off the brink before.

But with Randy Johnson lined up for Game 6 on full rest and Curt Schilling -- who pitched marvelously in this one -- set for Game 7, it would have been more like a steep cliff.

It's just that champions don't think about failure or gloom, even when they were failing as much as the Yankees were in this game.

And that ability to tune everything out may be why the Yankees lived to tell about yet another ride perilously close to the edge of the cliff. Maybe that's how they mustered the out of nowhere momentum to win a game that, in truth, they had no business winning.

"I don't think that (negative) stuff really goes through your head out there," said Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius. "We've always taken each game and played it for 27 outs. We took it to the wire tonight. I don't know about (it looking bleak). I just know we had some good hitters still coming up. Tino's had some huge hits for us and did it again tonight. You're just pushing and pushing and thinking the best until it's over."

And just as the Yogi Berra hat Joe Torre started wearing a few weeks ago proclaims, "it ain't over until it's over."

Not with competitors like Martinez. He didn't care that he was struggling in the Series. He was more concerned with trying to come up with a plan against Kim, whom he had never faced.