PHOENIX -- If the last three decades are an accurate barometer, the Yankees must crank their bats into gear for Sunday night's Game 7 if they plan on winning their fourth consecutive championship.
|Paul O'Neill is hitting only .250 in the World Series.
The Yankees have scored a paltry 12 runs in the first six games. Their highest offensive output came in the 4-3 victory in Game 4.
The last team to win a World Series without scoring at least five runs in a game? Try the 1972 Oakland Athletics.
Those A's of Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers beat the Big Red Machine in seven games, despite scoring an anemic grand total of 16 runs.
More amazingly, the A's scratched out just 11 runs in their four victories.
The Yankees would be best served by putting a sustained offensive attack together for the first time in the series. They'll have to do it against Curt Schilling. The bulldog righty baffled the Yankees in Game 1 and 4, and takes the ball on three days rest for the second time in the series.
"We've got to make him throw a lot of pitches," said Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams. "He's going to be tough because he's always tough. But we have to work the count and have quality at-bats. We just have to keep chipping away and chipping away and hopefully we'll do something."
What happened to that Yankee offense that could always work counts and wear pitchers down? Sure, there's only so much you can do sometimes against the likes of Schilling and Randy Johnson. But the Yankees have been just as silent against Brian Anderson and Miguel Batista.
The only pitcher they've been able to tag is closer Byung-Hyun Kim, whom they hit game-saving two-out, two-run homers off in Games 4 and 5.
Yes, the Yankees could conceivably pitch themselves to yet another victory. Especially with five-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens pitching Game 7.
But it's hardly a guarantee. Especially the way the Diamondbacks' hitters have been scorching during the Arizona portion of this World Series. The Yankees have been outscored 28-3 in the three games at Bank One Ballpark.
Aside from the late inning dramatics of Game 4 and 5, the Yankees didn't hit much at home either. The offense is an aggregate .183 in the World Series.
It's impossible to find even one Yankees regular who is having a good series at the plate.
The .250 average by Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams is the highest among the starters. None of the old reliables have been able to crank it up with any consistency. Not Derek Jeter (.130). Not Tino Martinez (.176). Not David Justice (1-for-11). Certainly not Chuck (1-for-17) Knoblauch.
Torre has tried shuffling his lineup a couple of times. But how much can you do when an entire offense is struggling?
The good news for the Yankees is that they are overdue for a hitting breakout. The bad news is that if it doesn't come in Game 7, it could be a long winter.
Who's Sizzling: As poorly as the Yankees have hit in this series, they'll likely need another big effort from Roger Clemens to survive Game 7. Ailing hamstring and all, Clemens has yielded one earned run and four hits over his last two starts, striking out 16.
Who's Fizzling: Andy Pettitte. Known as a big game pitcher throughout his career, this World Series has been a big nightmare for Pettitte. He lost Games 2 and 6, both to Randy Johnson. In nine innings, he allowed 12 hits and 10 earned runs. After throwing just 62 pitches in Game 6, it wouldn't be shocking to see Pettitte volunteer his services for a left-handed hitter or two in Game 7.
Fearless Prediction: Don't be surprised to see El Duque Hernandez play a pivotal role in the sixth or seventh inning of Game 7. The Cuban defector almost always comes up large in the postseason, and he'll have three days rest.
Ian Browne is a columnist for MLB.com.