2001 World Series

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A Game 3 corker

As important games go, this one's really important

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Tuesday October 30, 2001 11:57 AM
Updated: Tuesday October 30, 2001 3:27 PM

By John Donovan, CNNSI.com

All Thumbs
Heroes & Bums
High Hard Ones
The Pitch
The Bottom Line

NEW YORK -- Game 1 is important, of course, because you want to start well. In Game 2, you either get control of the series or get even.

Game 3 ... now, that's a biggie. That's when a team can all but seal the deal. Or when the series starts to become a series again.

Game 3 of the 2001 World Series is Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium, a place that has been the setting for some of baseball's biggest dramas. The Arizona Diamondbacks are up on the champion Yankees two games to none in this best-of-seven Series, making this game the most critical Series game the Yankees have faced since they began their recent run of excellence back in 1996.

It was in 1996 when the Yankees, down 2-0 to the Atlanta Braves, got a pitching masterpiece from David Cone to beat the Braves and start the Yanks on a streak of four Series titles ('96, '98, 99, 2000) in the next five years.

So, yeah, Game 3 can maybe be a little more important than others.

"We are backing ourselves into a corner again. We are being challenged again. You know, having won three [Series titles] in a row, some are going to say the odds are even against us," said Roger Clemens, the Game 3 starter for the Yankees. "We are just going to have to find out. We are going to have to go out and play some very good baseball ... to try and slow these guys down a little bit."

Maybe the most well known fact about a seven-game series is this: No team ever has rebounded from being down 3-0 to win a World Series.

Twenty teams have won the first three games of the Series. All 20 went on to grab the World Series title. Seventeen of them did it in the next game.

"We've won every World Series that we've been in," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who is 16-5 in Series games since taking over the Yanks in 1996. "In '96, really was the only time we've had to come back from a deficit. So, it's big. But we've managed to play big games very well."

Clemens, the probable Cy Young Award winner this season, is being nagged by a sore hamstring and hasn't won since Sept. 19. He's just 5-6 in his career with a 3.57 ERA in the postseason.

The Yankees hit just .102 in the first two games. Star shortstop Derek Jeter is hitless. The team's defense has been sloppy.

The Yankees certainly don't want to go out this way.

Game 3 can turn it all around.

On to the World Series Day at a Glance, which asks: Can lefty-swinging Paul O'Neill -- who didn't start Games 1 or 2 but is back in right field against left-hander Brian Anderson for Game 3 -- make a difference for the Yanks?

The answer: The Yanks are hitting .102. Can he do any worse?

The stage
There is no better stage for the World Series than New York, home of the fabled Yankees. Tuesday night, the Series returns to this shaken city with the Yankees sudden underdogs. Can the home crowd boost the Yanks? Can the Diamondbacks handle what promises to be a raucous Yankee Stadium?
The weather
Sure, it's the same for both teams. And, really, it may not affect either team. But going from near 90 in Phoenix to sub-50s in New York will be a bit strange.
The DH
Back in the American League park, the designated hitter comes into play in Games 3, 4 and (if needed) 5. The Yankees aren't sure who will pull the duty, though lefty-swinging David Justice seems likely, even against lefty Brian Anderson. The D'backs will go with either Erubiel Durazo or David Dellucci against the right-handed Clemens.
The Rocket
Is he healthy enough? He went only five innings last time out, in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. Will he do that again? What if the Diamondbacks get to him early? How long do you leave him in? In such a critical game, the Yankees just don't want so many questions.
Diamondbacks . Arizona's players, smartly, are saying all the right things. Not assuming anything. Paying the Yankees the requisite amount of respect. No guarantees. Playing it, essentially, like the pros they are. Smart. Thumbs Up
The Yanks' psyche . Admittedly down after Sunday's loss put them in a 2-0 quandary, the Yankees will shake it off. But for the first time in the Series since 1996, some cracks are appearing in New York's cool facade. Thumbs Down
The cloud . It was inevitable, of course. But isn't "contraction" just about the last thing you want to hear about during the World Series? We'll have our fill of that plenty soon enough. Thumbs Down
Brian Anderson . A bit of a flake, evidently, but a perfect guy to follow Schilling and Johnson -- considering someone has to follow them. Thumbs Up
Hero -- Reggie Sanders
The Arizona outfielder shouldn't be a surprise by now, but here he is hitting .500 two games into the Series.
Bum -- Tony Womack
He's playing some awesome defense, but that 0-for-8 could use a little sprucing up.
Hero -- Jorge Posada
Hard to find a hero on a team with one run scored in two games, but the Yanks' catcher has a third of the team's six hits.
Bum -- Scott Brosius
Three strikeouts in six at-bats (and a .167 average), struggling in the field. How about a do-over?
  • If the Yanks score early, the Yankee Stadium crowd may never shut up.
  • Arizona's largely forgotten bullpen should be limbering up any time now.
  • Winning games like Game 3 -- and surviving situations like 0-2 -- are what makes the Yankees the Yankees.
  • If the Yanks win Game 3, the D'backs have to go with Schilling in Game 4.
  • Luis Gonzalez -- you, with the bad wrist. Expect the inside stuff from Clemens in Game 3.
  • A look at the Game 3 pitchers
    D'backs' Brian Anderson (4-9, 5.20 ERA regular season)
    One of the other guys (not Schilling or Johnson), the lefty Anderson is 1-0 this postseason with a 2.45 ERA in three relief appearances. Anderson has been to the Series before, pitching in relief for the Cleveland Indians in 1997, but this will be his first Series start.
    Yankees' Roger Clemens (20-3, 3.51 ERA regular season)
    Bothered by a sore hamstring, the Rocket has started three postseason games this season and is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA. He still has most of his pitches, and he knows how to use them, but there is a question about how long he can last. He's gone only 13 1/3 innings in those three starts.
    Every game, they say, is a must-win game. Truth is, if the Diamondbacks lose Game 3, it's no big deal. You come back with Curt Schilling and, at worst, the Series is tied after four games. At very worst. But if the Yanks lose Game 3 ... yikes.

    The World Series Day at a Glance appears every day through the conclusion of the Series.

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