Another day, another hero for Yankees

October 21, 1998|By Ken Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO -- Derek Jeter has said that Scott Brosius is the New York Yankees' MVP. Well, Brosius might be about to go one better. The guy who batted .203 last season for Oakland might be the World Series MVP.

Brosius hit two home runs to lead the Yankees' comeback from a 3-0 deficit last night, shattering the San Diego Padres on a night they finally got Trevor Hoffman into a game; a night they appeared ready to make the World Series competitive.

Forget it.

Brosius' first homer punctured Sterling Hitchcock's shutout leading off the seventh inning, after San Diego had broken up David Cone's no-hitter by scoring three times in the sixth.

His second homer, a three-run shot off Hoffman with one out in the eighth, gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead, and helped move them within one victory of their 24th World Series title.

The Padres rallied with a run in the eighth and had the tying run at third with two outs in the ninth, but Mariano Rivera escaped the final jam to seal the 5-4 victory and put the Yankees ahead, three games to none, in the Series.

Hoffman earned 53 saves in 54 chances in the regular season -- the best success rate in major-league history for a pitcher with 30 or more saves. He followed that with three more saves and a victory in the postseason.

The crowd went wild as he made his usual grand entrance to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" with six outs to go. But nothing has gone right for the Padres in this series.

They couldn't hold a 5-2 lead with Kevin Brown in Game 1. They couldn't even compete in Game 2. And they couldn't protect leads of 3-0 and 3-2 in the late innings last night.

The Yankees won on a night David Cone gave up three runs after taking a no-hitter into the sixth, a night on which the Padres caught breaks as well as bobbles, a night that could have left New York in a more precarious position than anyone will remember.

The Greatest Team Ever debate is about to begin, but with a victory last night, the Padres would have been in excellent position to tie the series, with Kevin Brown returning to the tonight mound against the struggling Andy Pettitte, who has not pitched in 12 days.

Even flu-weakened, you have to like Brown over Pettitte. From there, it would get dicier -- Joey Hamilton against David Wells in Game 5. But by then, with the series tied at raucous Qualcomm, anything might have seemed possible.

Would anyone have seriously believed that the Padres could win three of four? Of course not. But it certainly would have been possible to envision the Series returning to New York -- with Hitchcock and Brown pitching Games 6 and 7, if necessary.

But the Yankees would have none of it.

Brosius would have none of it.

There's always someone to step forward for this remarkable team.

Brosius began the comeback almost the moment the Yankees fell behind, leading off the seventh with a homer. When Shane Spencer doubled, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an error, the Padres were again in trouble.

The San Diego bullpen has been horrible all series, particularly from the left side, where Randy Myers and Mark Langston are at the ends of their careers.

When Myers walked Paul O'Neill to start the eighth, San Diego manager Bruce Bochy went to Hoffman, desperate to protect a one-run lead.

Hoffman got Bernie Williams to fly out, but then walked Tino Martinez. Brosius followed with his mammoth shot to center field, and the Yankees were again in command.

It nearly was a three-homer night for Brosius, which would have put him in the same company as another Yankees Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. But his second-inning drive was just short, and Padres center fielder Steve Finley crashed into the wall to rob him of extra bases.

As it turned out, Brosius finished 3-for-4, improving his postseason average to .395 and World Series average to .538. The three-run shot was his second in four games -- he hit another off Charles Nagy in the Yankees' ALCS clincher.

To think, the Yankees might never have acquired the third baseman if Greg Vaughn hadn't flunked a physical last season, voiding a trade that would have sent Kenny Rogers to the Padres.

The Yankees kept Rogers, and wound up trading him for Brosius in the off-season. They never imagined they'd get 19 homers and 98 RBIs out of a player who batted ninth most of the season.

Ah, but these are the Yankees, 124-50 overall, 10-2 in the postseason and steaming toward history. They might not have a top five MVP candidate. They might not have any future Hall of Famers. But they've got a whole lot of players who do their jobs exceedingly well.

A whole lot of players like Scott Brosius.

World Series

San Diego vs. New York Yankees

(Yankees lead 3-0)

Game 1: New York, 9-6

Game 2: New York, 9-3

Game 3, last night: New York, 5-4

Today: New York (Pettitte, 16-11, 4.24) at San Diego (Brown, 18-7, 2.38), 8: 20 p.m.

Tomorrow*: at San Diego, 8: 20 p.m.

Saturday*: at New York, 8 p.m.

Sunday*: at New York, 7: 55 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5. *-If necessary

Two in one

New York Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius last night became the fifth player this decade -- and the second in this year's series -- with a multi-homer World Series game. In all, it has been done 41 times:

Player, team .............. Date

Chris Sabo, Reds ......... 10-19-90*

Lenny Dykstra, Phillies .. 10-20-93

Andruw Jones, Braves .. 10-20-96*

Greg Vaughn, Padres ...... 10-17-98*

Scott Brosius, Yankees ... 10-20-98*

*-Consecutive at-bats

Pitching line

Tonight: Game 4

.............. ............... Time/

.............. Starter ....... Line ... W-L .... ERA

New York .... Pettitte (L) .. 8: 20 .. 17-12 .. 4.30

at San Diego .. Brown (R) ... -150 ... 20-8 ... 2.37

Note: Statistics include postseason.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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