Work in Sports
Yankees finally get boost from lower part of lineup
Updated: Monday October 23, 2000 8:20 AM
By Daniel G. Habib, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK -- Jose Vizcaino in Game 1, Scott Brosius in Game 2.
For the second consecutive night in this World Series, the Yankees got major offensive production from a weak-hitting infielder at the bottom of their order. This time it was Brosius, who flirted with the Mendoza line through the first two rounds of the playoffs at .200 (7-for-35) before breaking through for two RBI (a solo home run off Mets starter Mike Hampton in the third, and a sacrifice fly off reliever Rick White in the seventh) in a 6-5 victory Sunday night.
Brosius keyed a renaissance from the Yankees' 6-7-8 hitters (Jorge Posada, Paul O'Neill and Brosius), who combined to go 6-for-10 with four RBIs and two runs scored after entering the World Series batting just .209 with no home runs.
"That's been the strength of our team all season," Brosius said. "Offensively, the fact that when were at our best, everybody chips in."
In Game 2, those three hitters did their part to scuff up NLCS MVP Hampton, who hadn't allowed a run in 16 innings against the Cardinals. Posada stuck him for an RBI single in the first, as Hampton's bid for another shutout lasted as long as Debbie Gibson's comeback. The three reached base safely in six of nine plate appearances against Hampton.
Brosius' leadoff homer in the third, which curved just inside the left-field foul pole, extended the Yankees' lead to 3-0.
"I got behind two strikes, then I had to foul off a couple of pitches to stay alive," Brosius said. "The one pitch that might have been up a little more than he wanted stayed fair."
O'Neill piled it on in the fourth, with a two-out RBI single that scored Tino Martinez to make it 4-0. Hampton had intentionally walked Posada with first base open to face O'Neill, who often struggles against left-handers, and for whom manager Joe Torre frequently pinch-hit against Seattle lefties during the ALCS.
"You have an opportunity to drive in runs and last night I didn't do it," said O'Neill, who finished 3-for-4. "Tonight, I managed to find a way to find some holes."
O'Neill hit into a 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded in the 10th of Game 1, prolonging an already unmanageable affair.
On a night when Chuck Knoblauch and David Justice were both 0-for-4, the bottom of the Yankee order picked up the slack to put the Mets down 0-2, a deficit from which only three teams have recovered to win the Series.
And with Orlando Hernandez, undefeated in nine postseason starts, scheduled to start Game 3 Tuesday night at Shea, New York, winners of an unprecedented 14 consecutive in the Fall Classic, is making October wins look like a Bomber birthright once again.
"It's something about the Yankee mystique," Knoblauch said. "You get in the playoffs, then you get deep in the playoffs, and then things just start to go your way."
Evidently, there's enough mystique for nine spots in the order.