Work in Sports
Posada's ninth-inning walk starts winning rally
Updated: Friday October 27, 2000 4:22 AM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- To run, it has been said, you first have to walk. The New York Yankees know this better than maybe any team in baseball.
And they used that time-proven method Thursday night once again, winning their third consecutive World Series title, and their fourth in five years, with a stirring late-inning victory over their crosstown rivals the New York Mets.
It all started with an innocent-looking walk.
"This team always seems to get it done," pitcher Denny Neagle said after the 4-2 win in Game 5 as the Yankees' victory party spilled from the small quarters of the visitors' clubhouse in Shea Stadium onto the field. "I mean, look at this. The third second baseman of the game gets the winning hit. Incredible."
Yes, Luis Sojo, who came into the game after starting second baseman Jose Vizcaino and pinch-hitting second baseman Chuck Knoblauch did their thing, came up with a single in the top of the ninth that drove in the final two runs.
But before Sojo came to the plate with two outs, catcher Jorge Posada started things with a hard-earned walk against hard-luck loser Al Leiter of the Mets. It was a don't-give-in, nine-pitch beauty of an at-bat.
"Jorge has a great eye at the plate," said third baseman Scott Brosius, who followed the Posada walk with a soft single to left field, setting the table for Sojo. "He fouled off some real tough pitches.
"I think [Leiter] still had his stuff. It's a situation where you're not going to leave anything in the tank. We just kind of played small ball in the ninth."
Posada's at-bat was, literally, the difference in the game. He fouled off four pitches, including two hard fouls down the left field line, before Leiter barely missed inside with ball four.
He went to second on Brosius' single, then motored home with the winning run when Sojo slapped the first pitch he saw from Leiter up the middle. Mets center fielder Jay Payton almost had Posada at the plate, but his throw hit Posada's left leg as he slid into catcher Mike Piazza and ricocheted into the Mets' dugout, allowing Brosius to score the final run.
"If we can keep putting pressure on the other guys," said reliever Mike Stanton, "then before long, something's going to break."
Leiter threw an arm-bending 142 pitches and took the loss. It will go down as one of the best pitching performances in World Series history in a losing effort.
"I was just going to the plate trying to get a pitch I could drive," a champagne-soaked Posada said in the clubhouse. "Leiter -- he could've folded after the second inning [when the Yankees scored their first run]. He threw a great game."
It was, in fact, good enough to beat most teams. But the Yankees know that being patient and taking the little steps can take a team a long way.