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World Series 2001
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10/28/2001 05:25 PM ET
Game 1 unkind to Justice
By Mark Feinsand
MLB.com
Justice reacts after striking out in the sixth.
Game highlights: 56k | 300k
Justice's strikeouts and error: 56k | 300k

PHOENIX -- David Justice is no newcomer to the World Series, yet he's never had a night quite like this one.

Justice had a rough night both at the plate and in right field, symbolizing the Yankees' sloppy play in the 9-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 on Saturday.

"The bottom line is we weren't crisp, and as a result we got beat," Justice, playing in his sixth Fall Classic. "It's not demoralizing because we know we didn't play our best game today. If we played our best ballgame and lost 9-1, it would be a little different, but we didn't play our best."

Manager Joe Torre started Justice over Paul O'Neill in right field because his numbers against Arizona starter Curt Schilling were much better than O'Neill's stats. That didn't translate in the batter's box on Saturday, as Justice struck out in each of his three at-bats against Schilling.

"My first three at-bats, I was down 0-2. It's pretty tough to come back 0-2 against anybody," Justice said. "He did a great job, my first at-bats, I didn't get anything to hit. I said the other day that if he worked the corners and made his pitches, it would be a tough day for me. It was."

"A lot of David's numbers were early in my career when he was in Atlanta. He hit me pretty well," Schilling said. "Tonight I attacked him with the way I wanted to get him out -- he's a guy that has made me pay in the past."

Justice's Game 1 woes were not limited to his three at-bats, as his third-inning error on Steve Finley's fly ball led to two unearned runs, turning a 3-1 game into a 5-1 game, and spelling the end of Mike Mussina's World Series debut.

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"I just took my eye off of it at the last second," said Justice, who appeared to have caught up to the ball, which hit his glove before falling to the ground. "I knew I was close to the wall, I had run a long way, and I just missed it. I make that catch 99 percent of the time, unfortunately I didn't make it tonight."

Justice also misplayed Mark Grace's double in the fourth, leading to two more Arizona runs. Justice's play in the outfield prompted much buzz about Torre's decision to bench O'Neill, but Torre defended his move after the game.

"Paul O'Neill is out there with a broken foot. It's healed pretty much, but he still has the effects late in the game," Torre said. "Justice has been a good outfielder for us. He's caught up to a lot of balls and he got to that ball -- he may get to a ball a little bit better than O'Neill. O'Neill may have more experience catching it because DJ has DH'd a lot, but I think at this point, physically he may be able to get to more balls than O'Neill because he's got two sound legs."

Torre, who has had the Midas touch with the moves he has made throughout this five-year run, said that things don't always turn out as you expect them to, which was the case tonight.

"A lot of my moves worked, but for the other team," Torre said. "There's no guarantee. I've been very fortunate that a lot of the stuff I've done has worked but I understand there's the other side of this thing, you do what you think is right at the time, and then live with it."

Neither Justice nor O'Neill will be in the lineup on Sunday, when Randy Johnson takes the mound for Arizona. Justice said that despite the lopsided loss, the Yankees will come out fighting on Sunday.

"It makes a difference when you lose really close games in the last inning, but we got beat soundly today," Justice said. "They did a great job swinging the bats, taking advantage of their opportunities, while we just didn't do a good job."

Mark Feinsand is the site reporter for Yankees.com. He can be reached at mfeinsand@yankees.com.