D'backs' Batista does job, but bullpen battered again

Starter out-duels Mussina with 7 2/3 shutout innings

November 02, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - When two 20-game winners within his own clubhouse don't provide enough inspiration for Arizona pitcher Miguel Batista, he always can read the words from Albert Einstein that stay in his locker.

"It's a quote I bought in a store in San Diego that I really related to when he talks about imagination and how important it is for a man to know that math and addition are better than talent and knowledge," he said. "You know what you know, you do what you can, but you can imagine a whole different world."

Could he ever have imagined what took place in Game 5 of the World Series? Being there one night after the Diamondbacks suffered such a crushing defeat, holding both the ball and a large portion of their championship hopes. Being there to stifle a New York lineup with more rings than a row of telethon phones.

Being there to shut out the Yankees on five singles over 7 2/3 innings, out-duel former Oriole Mike Mussina before the hostile masses in the Bronx, and watch his hard work go up in flames because of a blowtorch disguised as a closer.

Trying to put the previous night's beating behind him, Byung-Hyun Kim served up another two-out two-run homer in another surreal ninth inning. Scott Brosius found the seats in left field to erase a 2-0 deficit and hand Batista the toughest no-decision of his undistinguished career in the Diamondbacks' 3-2 loss in 12 innings.

Teammates rushed to the mound to console Kim, who appeared on the verge of tears. First baseman Mark Grace threw an arm around Kim's neck - not to strangle him, but to bring comfort. If anyone deserved a hug it was Batista, who said, "I went out there and battled the best I could. We just can't underestimate any of them."

Arizona manager Bob Brenly gambled on Wednesday by using Curt Schilling on short rest. He put Batista on a long leash, preferring to keep him in the game through 126 pitches and spare his embattled bullpen. Brenly stayed with him after two-out walks to Shane Spencer and David Justice in the seventh, and got a fly ball in return. He stayed with Batista until Bernie Williams' pop-up deflected off shortstop Tony Womack's glove for a charitable hit.

Schilling and Randy Johnson, who pitches Game 6 tomorrow in Phoenix, probably will finish 1-2 in the Cy Young voting. Batista will become a footnote in the postseason, which included his loss in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. But the Fall Classic almost turned in the Diamondbacks' favor in part because of a journeyman pitcher who's with his sixth team.

"He's a very talented and warrior-like pitcher," Johnson said. "Today is his opportunity to open a lot of eyes, eyes that have already been opened in Arizona."

An 11-game winner during the season, Batista's fastball was clocked at 94 mph in the seventh, a crucial inning for Batista since he had gone that long only twice during the regular season. When it was over, Batista still had a 2-0 lead and the upper hand on Mussina, whose only advantage in the matchup came on paper.

"I don't worry about Mussina. I don't have to face him," Batista said. "He's a hell of a man to watch. He has been a great pitcher for years. But worrying about him pitching on the other side? No, I don't."

Not much bothers Batista, an aspiring novelist and published poet. Last night, he tried to turn the page after a Game 4 loss, only to have Kim perform another book burning.

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