World Series 2001 |
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World Series 2001
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11/04/2001 03:22 AM ET
Free-swinging strategy worked for D-Backs
By Ken Gurnick
Righty Danny Bautista knocked in five runs with three singles and a groundout.
D-Backs' hit parade: 56k | 300k Report

PHOENIX -- Swinging early and often was the game plan against Andy Pettitte and it worked well enough for the Diamondbacks that they'll try it again in World Series Game 7 Sunday against Roger Clemens.

Pettitte and the Yankees took a record-breaking whacking at Bank One Ballpark, losing 15-2 as if that Yankee Stadium aura and mystique had been detained by security at LaGuardia and missed the flight west.

While much of the baseball world pretty much had Arizona dead and buried after the Yankees' back-to-back comebacks in New York, the Diamondbacks' offense wasn't buying it.

Even in defeat, Arizona's offense had successfully followed its strategy of scoring early and preventing the Yankees from shortening the game with their stifling bullpen. Despite a .196 batting average, Arizona had given its starting pitchers leads in four of the first five games.

It wasn't the offense's fault that Byung-Hyun Kim failed to record the last out twice and that instead of having already won the World Series, the Diamondbacks were playing for their lives Saturday night in Game 6 and a chance to have a Game 7.

"We did what we wanted to do back there," said Arizona batting coach Dwayne Murphy. "We've got to score runs early against their starters and we've done that and we believe we can do that against their pitchers. We certainly did that tonight. It did seem like we were up there swinging."

Murphy said the patience that helps his veteran hitters when they face wilder young pitchers can work against them when they face experienced pitchers who are capable of throwing first-pitch strikes, getting ahead in counts and dictating the flow of an at-bat.

"Sometimes these guys analyze too much, they have so much experience," Murphy said. "I like what they did tonight. Just see the ball, hit the ball, be aggressive."

An adjustment made against Pettitte was to look for strikes earlier in the count and cut loose. The result was a World Series record 22 hits, four by Reggie Sanders, three apiece by Tony Womack, Danny Bautista and Matt Williams.

All 15 runs were scored by the fourth inning and without even one home run, as a lot of the hits just found holes. Womack got things started with a double leading off the Arizona first and Bautista drove him in. Two batters and Randy Johnson already had a lead to work with. But Arizona would add three more runs in the second, then an eight-run third inning (most in a World Series since 1968) that included nine hits, one short of the World Series record.

Everybody in the Arizona starting lineup had at least one hit and one RBI, even starting pitcher Randy Johnson. Bautista, who responded with a clutch RBI in the NLCS clincher over Atlanta, drove in five runs in only five innings. Damian Miller, the catcher, scored three runs.


Now Murphy wants his batters to take the same approach against Roger Clemens, who meets Curt Schilling in the ultimate classic confrontation.

"We have to get Clemens early, and by that I mean just score before they do," said Murphy. "Clemens pitches a lot like Schilling. He's aggressive early and uses the splitty (split-finger fastball) as an out pitch. We have to jump on the fastballs early in the count and not let him work the count to a situation where he can use that splitty.

"We have to be aggressive, be ready to hit and not take good pitches. I think against Clemens in New York we took too many fastballs for strikes. Those are good pitches to hit, and when you take them for strikes you help him get ahead."

As he has done throughout his rookie year as a manager, Bob Brenly played more lineup roulette. He sat down three left-handed hitters -- center fielder Steve Finley, first baseman Mark Grace and second baseman Craig Counsell, who has only one hit (a home run) in 20 at-bats. Their replacements -- Bautista, Greg Colbrunn and Jay Bell -- had six hits, drove in seven runs and scored four.

Loading the lineup with righthanders against Pettitte, who shut down Arizona's lefties in Game 2, was a no-brainer for Brenly, but the lineup decision gets tougher against Clemens. Will he go back to Finley and sit down Bautista after a five-RBI game? Will he bring back Grace at first base, even though he's 2-for-15 in the series, or give a start to Erubiel Durazo, who is 4-for-11?

"I'm not sure what the lineup is going to look like tomorrow, but we had a lot of guys swinging the bat very well tonight that are making a case for being in the lineup tomorrow," said Brenly, who won't decide until he meets with his coaching staff Sunday.

Against Clemens in Game 3, Brenly started Durazo at designated hitter and he had two of the team's three hits. Bell, who did not start against Clemens in Game 3, is 4-for-8 lifetime against him.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for