Yanks reliever Witasick gets battered, bruised

Bel Air native surrenders 9 runs, 10 hits in 1 1/3 innings

November 04, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX - Nothing that happened last night could erase the three pitches thrown by Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim that were crushed for home runs, snatching away apparent victories for the Diamondbacks and putting them one game away from losing the World Series. Nothing could remove his name and the evidence from those two box scores, or the image of him squatting on the mound with his head bowed, tears rushing to his eyes, teammates rushing to comfort him.

But if there was any consolation for the 22-year-old closer - and it had to be small - it came from the opposite bullpen last night at Bank One Ballpark. While Kim absorbed some painful blows in Games 4 and 5 in New York, at least he wasn't beaten with both fists.

That punishment was saved for Yankees reliever Jay Witasick, battered beyond recognition by an Arizona lineup that hadn't raised a welt since a Game 1 romp.

Witasick, the Bel Air native appearing in his first World Series, produced a line so tangled in the Diamondbacks' 15-2 victory that nothing could straighten it. He allowed nine runs and 10 hits in 1 1/3 innings, with 48 pitches needed to create such a mess. The Diamondbacks didn't coax a walk out of him, so Witasick had no trouble finding the plate - or their bats.

Replacing Andy Pettitte with none out in the third, Witasick gave up four straight hits to increase Arizona's lead to 7-0. He struck out Tony Womack, then allowed a two-run single to Danny Bautista, a run-scoring double to Luis Gonzalez, a run-scoring single to Greg Colbrunn and a run-scoring double to Matt Williams.

Twelve batters came up that inning. Eight runs scored. And Witasick, acquired in June from the San Diego Padres for shortstop prospect D'Angelo Jimenez, made one very long walk back to the dugout after striking out Reggie Sanders.

"An outing like that in a big game like this, you're upset with yourself for not giving the team innings. That was the biggest thing I wasn't able to do. It hurt the team to use guys in the bullpen they probably wouldn't have used tonight because I was ineffective," Witasick said.

"I couldn't throw a breaking ball in a quality location. I left a lot of breaking balls up, and those pitches get hit. I resorted to throwing fastballs, and you can't live on fastballs in this league."

Manager Joe Torre didn't remove Witasick, who attended C. Milton Wright and UMBC, until three of the first four batters reached in the fourth inning, including Jay Bell, who swung through a slider that bounced past catcher Jorge Posada for a wild pitch. Bell scored on a double by Damian Miller, who missed Game 5 with an injury, and has missed much that has been thrown or hit to him in this Series.

No pitcher had allowed eight hits in one inning of a World Series game until Witasick took the mound in the third. Boston's Joe Wood gave up seven on Oct. 15, 1912. Witasick's eight earned runs established a Series record, and the nine total runs off him were one short of the record held by Pittsburgh's Bill Kennedy in 1903.

"You try to make a quality pitch and if they get a hit off a quality pitch, or even if it wasn't a quality pitch, you're still in the World Series," Witasick said. "There are a lot of people who would love to be in my shoes out there even though the results weren't in my favor."

The Diamondbacks were batting .196 in five games, but they were so prolific last night that starter Randy Johnson scored twice in the first two innings after reaching on a fielder's choice and rapping a single off Witasick that drove in another run. No pitcher had done that since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in 1968.

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