Williams' home run puts fans back in Diamondback's corner

Third baseman stops boos by taking Pettitte deep


World Series

October 29, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX - Booed on his home field during the first round of the postseason, Arizona's Matt Williams was pulled out of the dugout last night by hands that wanted only to embrace him.

Williams' three-run homer off New York Yankees starter Andy Pettitte in the seventh inning broke open Game 2 of the World Series and gave him a unique place in baseball history.

A curtain call followed Williams' blast to left field, which finished off a 4-0 victory over the Yankees at Bank One Ballpark. He became the only player to homer for three different clubs in the World Series, including the San Francisco Giants in 1989 and the Cleveland Indians in 1997.

He failed to win a ring on those occasions, with San Francisco losing to the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland losing to the Florida Marlins. But he's halfway to a championship with the Diamondbacks, who have taken the first two games of the World Series.

"I guess to me it just means I played on some pretty good teams," he said.

As for the fickle nature of fans who had turned against him, Williams said, "As I told you guys two weeks ago, it's nothing a couple hits won't take care of."

Williams also led off the fifth inning with a single but was wiped out on a double play. He's 3-for-6 with four RBIs so far after hitting .176 in the NL Division Series and .278 in the NL Championship Series.

His biggest supporter has been Arizona manager Bob Brenly, his former Giants teammate.

"We're probably closer than I am with the rest of the guys on this team just because of our history," Brenly said. "I'm a huge Matt Williams fan. There were a lot of times during the season when people were ready to give up on Matty, but I never was. I know what he's capable of doing, I know what a warrior he is, and I will stick by him as long as he wants to play."

Unexplained success

Randy Velarde can't explain it, and he has had plenty of opportunities.

Before last night, he was batting .452 (19-for-42) in his career against Randy Johnson. Velarde was 0-for-3 last night.

Johnson is one of baseball's most intimidating pitchers of this era. Velarde is a utility infielder who batted .152 in 15 games after being reacquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers.

His career numbers in the majors are modest. His success against Johnson is obnoxious.

What's his secret?

"I wish I had a nickel for every time I've been asked that," he said. "It's just one of those deals where I get hits off the guy."

Clemens feeling better

Torre said he's confident that Roger Clemens' nagging hamstring injury won't factor into tomorrow's start.

"If there was a concern we probably would have started him in Game 4, knowing that the extra day would have helped him and we would have looked for him one time," Torre said. "Just the fact that we're pitching him in Game 3 is an indication that he's feeling better."

Will he or won't he?

The game within the World Series continues, as Brenly remains coy about whether he'll pitch Curt Schilling on three days' rest.

The media here continues to speculate whether Brenly will use Schilling for Game 4, rather than Miguel Batista, if the Diamondbacks trail in the series. Or even if they're ahead. Schilling never has gone on short rest, but he's been so dominant in the postseason - 4-0 with a 0.79 ERA in four starts - that the temptation exists to push him a little harder.

"I'll be rested whenever he gives me the ball," Schilling said. "I know I'm going to pitch hopefully one more game, I would think. If he needs me in Game 4, I'll be ready in Game 4."

That's why Schilling was removed on Saturday after 102 pitches with two innings remaining in Arizona's 9-1 victory.

"This is the World Series," he said. "If I have three days' rest or four days' rest, I'm not really sure it's going to make a whole lot of difference."

Asked if removing Schilling after seven innings would have any bearing on who starts Game 4, Brenly grinned and said, "It might."

Is Schilling the probable pitcher?

"He could be," Brenly said, again bringing laughter from reporters in the interview room.

Around the horn

Schilling was given the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award yesterday for his involvement in the ALS foundation. "I don't think baseball's ever had a more deserving winner," said commissioner Bud Selig. ... The Yankees' Mike Stanton made his 17TH World Series appearance last night, passing Rollie Fingers for second on the all-time list, and is five behind Whitey Ford.

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