Soriano, Spencer help Yankees with defensive gems
Updated: Wednesday October 31, 2001 12:57 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Facing an 0-2 deficit for the second time this postseason, the New York Yankees once again turned to their defense to get them back into a series.
No, not from Derek Jeter, whose remarkable relay provided the key in the first round against Oakland.
This time, the Yankees got diving plays by Alfonso Soriano and Shane Spencer that preserved a sixth-inning tie and helped the Yankees beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1 in Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night.
"The way we've be scoring runs, which we haven't, I had to go get that ball," Spencer said. "We just won one game. We need three more. But like in the Oakland series, the first one can be the hardest."
The Yankees still haven't hit in the Series, scoring just three runs and batting .144 for the first three games. But thanks to Roger Clemens' strong pitching and their dazzling defense, they're back in it.
With the score tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Clemens hit Reggie Sanders with a pitch with two outs. Sanders stole second before Erubiel Durazo hit a grounder into the hole between first and second base that looked like it might give Arizona the lead.
Soriano, who committed an error earlier in the game, ran to his left and dived to stop the ball before it could roll into right field. Soriano was unable to throw Durazo out at first, but he preserved the tie.
"The instant the ball was hit, I knew it wouldn't be a routine play, but I thought I had a chance," Soriano said through an interpreter. "Maybe in the regular season there would have been different energy. But in the playoffs, every play matters."
Spencer was still sprawled out on the grass when he looked into his glove to make sure he held onto the ball, and he was relieved to see he did.
"A lot of times when you dive like that, you hit the ground and the ball pops out," Spencer said. "I wanted to make sure it didn't."
Clemens raised his fist in excitement on the mound and waited at the first-base line to congratulate Spencer on his way to the dugout.
"The most exciting part was coming in and seeing the 'Hoss' there waiting," Spencer said of Clemens. "I wanted to make sure I slapped him hard so I wouldn't break my hand."
It was defense that helped keep the Yankees in the postseason in the first round against Oakland. After looking overmatched in losing the first two games to the Athletics, the Yankees led 1-0 in the seventh inning of Game 3 when Jeter saved New York's season with his guile.
With Jeremy Giambi trying to score from first on Terrence Long's double into the right-field corner, Jeter sprinted across the diamond, caught Spencer's errant throw and made a graceful backhand flip to nail Giambi at the plate.
That sent the Yankees on their way to a comeback they hope to duplicate against the Diamondbacks.
"The problem for us was their defense," Williams said. "They made two great plays. That's one of the reasons they're here."