Decision to pull Schilling easy; result hard to swallow
Updated: Thursday November 01, 2001 8:14 AM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- The second-guessers climbed out of the woodwork almost the second Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly called for his closer, Byung-Hyun Kim, to come in and finish off the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the World Series.
Less than two innings later, after a shocking Yankees comeback had turned sure defeat into a delirious New York win, the hindsighters were crawling around in every nook of old Yankee Stadium.
"In the eighth inning," said Arizona starter Curt Schilling, "it looked like it was an incredibly smart decision."
But it was the ninth, and then the 10th, that cost Schilling what should have been his win and enabled the Yankees to pull even in this first-to-four Series at two wins apiece.
And opened Brenly to all the second guessing.
Schilling, the Game 1 winner, was nothing short of fantastic on three days' rest. The decision to pitch him in Game 4 had been an excruciating one for Brenly, but after the Diamondbacks lost Game 3 on Tuesday, he decided to go with his ace. The move was brilliant.
For seven innings, Schilling again confounded the Yankees, allowing only four baserunners and only one run, a third-inning solo home run by Shane Spencer.
In the top of the eighth, when the Diamondbacks managed two runs off Yankees reliever Mike Stanton, Arizona suddenly was six outs from a 3-1 Series lead.
In the dugout, Schilling told Brenly he wanted to pitch the bottom half of the inning.
"I told him I could go out for another one," Schilling said. "He felt like that was enough."
In fact, Brenly thought he was in nearly the perfect situation. His team had a two-run lead with two innings to go and Kim -- who had saved 19 games in 23 tries during the season -- was in the bullpen. Schilling had not been especially taxed (88 pitches), so Brenly also was giving some thought to keeping Schilling fresh for a possible Game 7 on Sunday back in Phoenix.
"It was an easy decision to take him out," Brenly said. "We had a lead, we had six outs left to go in the ballgame, and that's the way we hoped it would work out."
The Yankees, of course, were only too glad to see Schilling leave.
"I thought he was just as sharp as he was in Game 1, three days rest or not," said Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez.
Kim, who owns an unorthodox, whipping sidearm delivery, had not yet faced the Yankees in the Series. He went to 3-2 on each batter he faced in the bottom of the eighth.
Then, in the ninth, after allowing a soft single to Paul O'Neill, Martinez stepped in against Kim with two outs and O'Neill on base. He was looking for a fastball and got one on the first pitch, driving it deep to center for a home run that tied the score.
With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, shortstop Derek Jeter battled Kim for eight pitches, climbing out of an 0-2 hole to pop the eighth pitch -- a fastball on the outer portion of the plate -- into the right-field seats for the game-winning home run.
"Putting in BK [Kim] was the right move, I thought," Arizona catcher Damian Miller said, "especially the way he threw the eighth.
"He just made two mistakes, and they made him pay for it."
Schilling, still expecting to pitch a Game 7 if there is one, stood at his locker in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse and defended Brenly's decision to pull him.
"He's done it all year long and it worked," Schilling said. "Tonight, it didn't."