Yankees Vs. Diamondbacks

World Series

October 27, 2001|By PETER SCHMUCK | PETER SCHMUCK,SUN STAFF

1B

Mark Grace vs. Tino Martinez: Diamondbacks veteran Grace has waited a long time for the chance to perform in the postseason and he didn't squander the opportunity in the first two rounds. He has appeared in nine games and is batting .300 in the playoffs, but came out of the final game of the National League Championship Series with a hamstring strain. He claims he'll be ready, but he has to be considered questionable. Erubiel Durazo took his place in Game 5 and hit a big home run. Greg Colbrunn also can play there. The Yankees' Martinez has not been a big factor yet, but he's coming off a big regular season and enters the Series with significantly more upside potential. Key matchup stat: Grace has never faced any of the Yankees' top starters or closer Mariano Rivera in a regular-season or postseason situation. EDGE: YANKEES

2B

Craig Counsell vs. Alfonso Soriano: Arizona's Counsell doesn't get much attention during the regular season, but he is getting a reputation for big postseason heroics. He came up big for the Florida Marlins in the decisive game of the 1997 World Series and batted .381 in this year's NLCS to win the MVP trophy. Yankees rookie Soriano hit the back-breaking home run that pushed Seattle to the brink of elimination in the ALCS and has risen to the challenge of his first postseason. Look for him to make a few rookie mistakes, but he is not afraid.

Key matchup stat: Counsell is a combined 1-for-9 lifetime against Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.

EDGE: DIAMONDBACKS

SS

Tony Womack vs. Derek Jeter: On his best day, D'backs infielder Womack can do it all. He's a good contact hitter who runs well and serves as the catalyst for the Arizona offense. He struggled badly after the sudden death of his father in late April, but delivered a huge game-winning single in Game 4 of the NLCS. Even on his very best day, however, he is not in the same league as Yankees superstar Derek Jeter, who - at just 27 years old - already is baseball's all-time leader in postseason hits. Jeter didn't have a great ALCS, but he didn't have to. It was his game-saving play in Game 3 of the Division Series against Oakland that allowed the Yankees to stage their dramatic three-game comeback and then roll past the Mariners.

Key matchup stat: Womack batted just .188 against left-handers this year, so look for Craig Counsell to move into the leadoff role against Pettitte in Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 6.

EDGE: YANKEES

3B

Matt Williams vs. Scott Brosius: Yankees veteran Brosius was the World Series MVP in 1998, but he has not been a major force in this postseason. He's batting .121 (4-for-33) through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Brosius didn't have a great regular season either, so it remains to be seen if he can break out again in the World Series. Arizona's Williams also has put up thin numbers in the postseason thus far, and had numbers very similar to Brosius during the regular season. Brosius is the better defensive player at this point in their careers, so he gets a slight edge. Key matchup stat: Brosius and Williams are batting a combined .149 with five RBIs in 20 postseason games this October.

EDGE: YANKEES

C

Damian Miller vs. Jorge Posada: Nationally unknown Miller battled through a nagging Achilles' tendon strain and closed out the regular season with a sore shoulder, but he delivered a career year at the plate and was one of the National League's best defensive catchers. He's still waiting for his first big swing in the postseason, but has a chance to make a name for himself if he can upstage post-seasoned Posada. That will be no easy task, since Posada has been a very steady presence both at the plate and behind it during the first two playoff rounds.

Key matchup stat: Miller batted just .219 and did not drive in a run in his first 10 postseason games. By comparison, Posada is hitting .344 with a home run and two RBIs in the postseason.

EDGE: YANKEES

LF

Luis Gonzalez vs. Chuck Knoblauch: This would figure to be the biggest mismatch on the board. Gonzalez hit 57 homers and drove in 142 runs during the regular season and has two homers in the postseason. He's also a solid defensive outfielder who is a confident and calming presence in the D'backs' lineup. Knoblauch did not have a great offensive season, but he is making up for lost time in the playoffs. He enters the Fall Classic leading the Yankees with 12 hits (.300 average) in the first two rounds. Still, the D'backs have a decisive advantage here.

Key matchup stat: Gonzalez's combined on-base and slugging average was 1.117. Knoblauch's was .690. How's that for comparing apples and oranges.

EDGE: DIAMONDBACKS

CF

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.