Friday, November 02, 2001

Mystique, aura and timely hits

        NEW YORK — They are the living dead. They are the zombies you can't completely kill, the creatures who have populated our horror films since Dracula was in diapers.

        They are the New York Yankees. They are living/undead proof that the game is never over until the last out is made and the vampire has a stake through his heart the size of a Lousiville Slugger.

        Thursday night, for the second World Series game in succession, the three-time defending world champions came off the mat one out from defeat and rallied to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 in 12 innings.

        On this night, the last-gasp hero was Scott Brosius, whose two-out two-run home run brought the Yankees even in the
bottom of the ninth. The night before, it had been Tino Martinez.

        On this night, it was Alfonso Soriano's single that delivered the winning run. The night before it had been a home run by Derek Jeter.

        “You see it time and time again — our team doesn't give up,” Jeter said. “Until we make our final out, we feel we can win.”

        “The heart of this team is signified with what we're doing,” outfielder Paul O'Neill said.

        The World Series returns to Arizona with the Yankees holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven event. The Diamondbacks will have Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling pitching in Phoenix. The Yankees will counter with Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and karma.

Illogical legacy

        Schilling had joked that “aura” and "mystique,” two qualities forever associated with the Yankees, were just the names of two dancers in a nightclub.

        Maybe so. But when Brosius struck his game-tying blow, Fox cameras found a sign at Yankee Stadium that read: “Mystique & aura appearing nightly.”

Now batting for the Yankees... Destiny
(AP photos)
| ZOOM |
        There is no sensible way to explain it. There is no logical reason why the Yankees, so inoffensive at the plate throughout the series, should find their hitting shoes with one foot in the grave. Yet there is no denying the team's resilience, its ability to grind it out at the end of the game and the disparity between closers Mariano Rivera and Byung-Hyun Kim.

        It was Kim, for the second straight night, who allowed the game-tying home run one out from victory. It was Rivera who pitched out of bases-loaded peril with one out in the top of the 11th to keep the score tied.

Missed opportunities

        Arizona's Miguel Batista had shut out the Yankees for 7 2/3 innings. He had made Bob Brenly's decision to pitch Schilling on short rest seem a waste of worry. The Yankees had five singles off Batista and twice moved O"Neill to third base, but the only scoring before Brosius' homer were solo homers by Steve Finley and Rod Barajas in the fifth inning.

        As the innings passed, and their futility continued, the Yankees would persistently squander their base runners. They twice hit into double plays, and had Alfonso Soriano caught stealing after a leadoff single in the third inning.

        In the eighth, O'Neill drew a two-out walk, and Bernie Williams followed with a bloop single. This brought Martinez to the plate for a possible reprise of his Game 4 heroics.

        Brenly responded with left-handed reliever Greg Swindell, who retired the Yankees slugger on a fly ball to left field.

        The eighth inning, evidently, is too early for these Yankees. Not enough suspense.

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