NEW YORK -- If you told Yankees Manager Joe Torre a few days ago that his team would hit .160 in the first four games of the World Series, he wouldn't have been crazy to speculate it would have ended there.
|Tino Martinez was 0-for-the-Series, but went to the plate relaxed and ready to roll with two-out in the ninth.
But somehow, the Yankees have salvaged a split despite their offensive offense.
More important, dramatic home runs by Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter in the final two innings of a wild 4-3 comeback victory in Game 4 might have been just the remedy to cure the Yankees' hitting drought.
Moments like that have a tendency to put confidence back into a lineup.
Torre already shifted his lineup for Game 4, benching Chuck Knoblauch and putting Jeter in the leadoff hole. For 8 2/3 innings, it didn't pay any dividends.
But then Martinez smashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and Jeter won it in the tenth with an opposite field poke over the right field fence and the series was suddenly tied at 2-2.
"It's huge for our confidence," Torre said. "This is a big lift."
Maybe enough to lift David Justice, who is 1-for-9 in the series with eight strikeouts. Or Knoblauch, who was 0-for-12 before riding the pine in Game 4. Even with the homer, Jeter has but four hits in his last 34 at-bats.
Sure, the Yankees are back in the driver's seat if they can win Game 5. But they'll have to drive the ball more consistently to win their fourth consecutive World Series.
Still looming in Game 6 is Randy Johnson, and then Curt Schilling (on three days rest again) in Game 7 (if necessary).
One thing that will help the bats resurface is that the Yankees hitters are old pros. They don't let slumps rattle them. This is how Martinez was able to emerge from his and belt what might turn out to be the defining hit of this World Series.
"I felt good at the plate and the first game in Arizona and I hit the ball hard (in Game 3)," Martinez said. "I felt comfortable and I didn't want to change anything."
So instead of tensing up, Martinez stayed calm enough to belt arguably the biggest home run of his career.
The Yankees are hoping it has a ripple affect for the rest of the series.
"We haven't been swinging the bats as well as we'd like or getting the number of hits we'd like to," said Jeter. "But this is a huge moment because this was a big game for us. But we never lose confidence. We have a lot of confidence in our offense and we just think it's a matter of time."
The way the Yankees have hit in the series, they're lucky they still have time.
Who's Sizzling: The Yankees' rotation. After Mike Mussina got uncharacteristically hammered in Game 1, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and El Duque Hernandez have come up with three solid starts in a row. Now it's up to Mussina to make up for Game 1 and put the Yankees back in control before the series shifts back to Phoenix.
Who's Fizzling: It's already cold enough in New York. Make sure not to be anywhere near the batters box when David Justice comes to the plate. Talk about a breeze. The veteran left-handed swinger has stuck out eight times in nine at-bats.
Fearless Prediction: Bernie Williams will be the hero in Game 5. This is the fifth consecutive World Series the switch-hitting center fielder's normally potent bat has struggled. Williams is due to change this.