Undaunted, Kim keeps defeat in perspective

`We have more games to play,' D'backs closer says after tough loss

World Series

November 01, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim made baseball history last night by becoming the first Korean-born player to appear in the World Series. He soon found out what it was like to fail in one.

Handed a two-run lead to protect in the eighth inning, Kim seemed in control before allowing a game-tying home run to New York's Tino Martinez with two outs in the ninth. Shortstop Derek Jeter completed the rally in the 10th with another two-out shot, giving the Yankees an improbable 4-3 victory and Kim a heavy dose of postseason reality.

He sat on a stool in front of his locker, a safe posture to withstand the media crush. Better to lay low.

Kim had gone this far before, his sidearm technique enabling him to take on the burden of multiple innings. But he never had blown a save this big, this visible, in his three seasons with the Diamondbacks.

"I'm not disappointed. We have more games to play. We know that," he said through an interpreter.

Teammates offered words that might bring comfort, unsure if what they said would be understood.

"They all said I threw well and the series is not over. That made me feel good," he said. "Sometimes you throw a good game, sometimes you don't."

Kim did both, striking out the side in the eighth after replacing Curt Schilling with the Diamondbacks ahead, 3-1. He also struck out Bernie Williams for the second out of the ninth after Paul O'Neill had punched a single to left.

Martinez jumped on Kim's next pitch, a fastball, and cleared the fence in center field. Jeter, in a 3-for-32 slump, took a slider to the opposite field and sent the Yankee Stadium crowd into delirium.

"I knew the ballpark was short," Kim said, "but I didn't know it was that short to right field."

He faced a long walk to the clubhouse, where a team that could have drawn within a game of a world championship no longer holds the advantage.

"One pitch, and [Jeter's] certainly capable," said Game 3 starter Brian Anderson. "It was over the plate and he hammered it."

Anderson had gone inside as the Diamondbacks continued to lead in the ninth. As he began to head back to the dugout, he heard an announcer on one of the clubhouse televisions begin listing teams that rallied from a 3-1 deficit in games. A graphic appeared on the screen.

"As soon as they put it up there, I said, `Take that son-of-a-gun off there. This game is not over. I don't care what it looks like.' Within a minute or two ... "

So what happens to Kim, who already had come up short in comparisons to New York's infallible Mariano Rivera?

"He'll be fine. He has to be. This is not the time to get down, for any of us," Anderson said.

"He'll bounce back," said center fielder Steve Finley, who climbed the fence in vain for Martinez's homer. "He doesn't worry about it."

The pep talks weren't directed only at Kim. It seemed that each Arizona player was trying to convincing himself that the Series hadn't just taken a turn for the worse, that the blows weren't severe enough to crumble their hopes.

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