In the zone
Big Unit tames Yanks for fourth straight postseason win
Updated: Sunday November 04, 2001 1:19 AM
PHOENIX (AP) -- Randy Johnson didn't need 15 runs. A few would have been just fine.
The Big Unit shut down the New York Yankees once again. And backed by an offense that set a World Series record with 22 hits, he led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 15-2 rout Saturday night that forced a Game 7.
And, look out New York: He may be back Sunday, perhaps for a few batters.
"I came out after seven innings. We'll leave it at that," Johnson said. When pressed on whether he would be available, Johnson replied: "Possibly."
No more questions, please, about Johnson not being able to win the big one. This was the biggest in his career, the biggest in the Diamondbacks' history.
"Tip your hat to all of our hitters tonight," Johnson said. "It makes your job easier."
When he lost to St. Louis back in the first round, his postseason record dropped to 2-7, a mark unbecoming a three-time Cy Young Award winner with a regular season record of 200-101.
Since then he's won four straight starts, putting Arizona one victory away from winning the World Series in just its fourth season, which would be the fastest ever.
Last weekend, Johnson dominated with a sharp slider, throwing a three-hitter that made the 38-year-old left-hander the oldest pitcher ever to throw a Series shutout.
This time, he had to wiggle and work.
"I think he pitched tremendously tonight," Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. "It's not always easy to pitch with a big lead."
Arizona gave him a 1-0 lead in the first, but the slider wasn't sharp. Tino Martinez, a left-handed hitter, singled in the second inning.
Derek Jeter bounced into a forceout and Bernie Williams worked out an eight-pitch walk, loading the bases for Jorge Posada. A hit would have put the Yankees in the game, a home run would have tied it, but Johnson escaped.
Posada took a ball, then watched a called strike and fouled off a pitch. With fans cheering, Johnson got Posada to swing through a high fastball.
"That was the biggest thing for me," Johnson said.
New York never threatened again until it was far too late.
While Arizona built its 15-run lead, Johnson retired eight straight batters, taking a two-hit shutout into the sixth, extending his Series scoreless innings streak to 14.
By the time Johnson gave up two runs in the sixth, it was like a spring training game, with both teams filling the field with subs. Johnson struck out seven, increasing his total for the regular season and postseason to a record 418, seven more than the previous mark set by Sandy Koufax in 1965.
Johnson has two of his team's Series wins, giving Curt Schilling a chance to end the Yankees' dynasty when he faces Roger Clemens on Sunday night. Without the Big Unit, the Series would have been long over, the Yankees parading their fourth straight title trophy through the streets of New York.
With everything on the line, Johnson came up with a game the Diamondbacks imagined when they brought him to the desert.
Schilling predicted the Diamondbacks will win Sunday. Johnson was more low key.
"I'm not that bold," Johnson said, "because we're playing the World Series champ."