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NEW YORK -- It's hard not to think about David Justice without remembering what he has done in the postseason. There was his home run that helped win the 1995 World Series for the Braves. And the 3-run shot that lifted the Yankees over Seattle in the clinching Game 6 of last year's ALCS.
|David Justice has struck out nine times in 11 at-bats against the D-Backs.
It's just that those memories seem far away these days. In this World Series, Justice has been memorable for his failures.
He's 1-for-11 against the Diamondbacks with an appalling nine strikeouts.
If not for the Yankees recording another epic comeback victory, the lasting image of this game would have been the feeble swings Justice took against Diamondbacks righty Miguel Batista.
In the fifth inning -- the Yankees trailing 2-0 at the time -- Justice came to the plate with Shane Spencer on second and nobody out.
At another time, this situation would have been a good one for the Yankees. Who better than Justice -- who has a postseason record of 59 RBIs -- to come through in such an ideal run-scoring opportunity?
However, Justice didn't reach such accomplishments by flailing away at offerings headed for the dirt. But that's what he did against Batista in this at bat on strike two and three. His face was covered in horror as he walked back to the dugout.
The boos from the crowd couldn't have made him feel much better.
In the bottom of the seventh, Justice swung at a 3-0 offering way out of the strike zone. He eventually worked out a walk, but then he was removed for pinch runner Chuck Knoblauch.
You wonder if that is the last we will see of Justice in this series. For it was Knoblauch - whose horrific slump had put him on the bench in Games 4 and 5 -- coming up with a key single in the 12th to set up Alfonso Soriano's game-winner.
With menacing lefty Randy Johnson going in Game 6 for the D-Backs, there is virtually no chance lefty hitter Justice starts.
Despite his solid career numbers against Curt Schilling, it's doubtful Justice would start in a potential Game 7. Shane Spencer has responded nicely in this series, and there's no DH for the games in Phoenix.
So Justice -- who made a defensive gaffe in right field in Game 1 -- figures to be the odd man out.
Who's Sizzling: Scott Brosius. OK, his 4-for-17 in the series is nothing to get giddy about. But he delivered the game-winning RBI in Game 3, and the monumental tying two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth in Game 5. The MVP of the 1998 World Series always seems to come through this time of year. The way the Yankees offense has been sagging, the importance of Brosius' clutch heroics can't be overstated.
Who's Fizzling: Derek Jeter. Amazing that the Yankees are one victory away from their fourth consecutive world championship with such futile production from their most important everyday player. Yes, he did loop a homer over the right-field wall to win Game 4. But it was a cheapie. For the series, he's 2-for-21. Combine that with his 2-for-17 in the ALCS and you realize that these are tough times for the Yankees shortstop.
Fearless Prediction: Randy Johnson will be brilliant and almost unhittable in Game 6. But Andy Pettitte will be better. The Yankees will finish this series in six games because Pettitte always seems to pitch his best games when they count the most.
Ian Browne is a columnist for MLB.com.