Too hot to handle: Brenly picks between Bautista and Sanders

Gonzalez, Finely leave only one spot open

bullpens are busting

Notebook

World Series

November 05, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX - Arizona manager Bob Brenly had two choices: Go with the player who collected four hits in Game 6 of the World Series or the player who drove in five runs. There wouldn't be room for both in the Diamondbacks' lineup.

Faced with a difficult decision in Game 7, Brenly put Danny Bautista in right field and Reggie Sanders on the bench last night. Bautista was 6-for-9 with six RBIs, five of them coming the previous night. Sanders raised his average to .304 by going 4-for-5 in Saturday's 15-2 romp over the New York Yankees.

Left field already was reserved for Luis Gonzalez, who hit 57 homers in the regular season and three more in the playoffs. Former Oriole Steve Finley returned to center field after Bautista started there in Game 6, with Brenly inserting another left-handed bat against Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens.

"It's a nice dilemma to have," Brenly said, "but it took a considerable amount of my time last night and this morning trying to figure out our best chance against Roger Clemens. I came in early and looked at a lot of videotape of Game 3 and checked all the career numbers, and this is the lineup we came up with."

Sanders went O-for-2 against Clemens in New York, getting hit by a pitch and stealing a base. He never had faced Clemens before that night. Bautista was 2-for-1O against Clemens and justified Brenly's faith with an RBI double off Clemens to open the scoring in the sixth inning.

"I told Reggie Sanders this was the single toughest lineup decision I had to make all season long," Brenly said. "I told Reggie that we would not be here without him."

An early rush

The adrenaline kicked in for Arizona starter Curt Schilling around the third inning. But he wasn't on the mound. It wasn't even his turn to pitch.

Schilling said he began "breathing like I was pitching" when the Diamondbacks scored eight runs in the third inning of Game 6. He knew that, with such a big lead for Randy Johnson, he'd be facing Clemens in the decisive Game 7.

"I started to get a little nervous about it," he said.

"I don't know that I can describe it to someone that works in the print media. This might be like being in the essay finals against Hemingway or a paint-off against Picasso. It's Roger Clemens and the Yankees, Game 7. Everybody that's ever played this sport at any level has had a Wiffle ball in their hand at some point and said, It's the seventh game of the World Series,' and you're either pitching or hitting. How cool is that?"

Bullpens full of possibilities

Though he threw 101 pitches in Game 6, Johnson made himself available last night if needed in relief. "Nothing is out of the question," he said. "I have four months to rest."

Said Brenly: "Since there will be no tomorrow, we have a starting pitcher and nine guys in the pen."

The Yankees also were prepared to go for broke.

"I think everybody is going to have their spikes on tonight," manager Joe Torre said. "We have plenty of volunteers."

Diamondbacks to AL?

If Major League Baseball decides to eliminate the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins, a possibility when the owners meet in Chicago tomorrow, the Diamondbacks might be moved to the American League.

It's a plan that doesn't sit well with club officials.

"We haven't been told a thing," said team president Rich Dozer. "We want to stay in the NL. It would be weird to move the National League champions."

Hitless wonders

The Yankees had a chance last night to become the first team to win a World Series with a team batting average below .180, reinforcing the importance of pitching and defense. They were hitting .183 going into Game 7.

The Boston Red Sox won the 1918 Series in six games over the Chicago Cubs while batting .186.

"I always feel offensively, we never measure up to other teams anyway, Torre said. "We have been based on pitching. Aside from the Braves Series, this is probably the first club that we've come up against that could match pitching with us. So the fact that we don't hit has really been magnified."

Series-ous viewers

Game 6 of the Series on Fox easily outdrew the third game of Michael Jordan's comeback on NBC.

Arizona's 15-2 rout that tied the Series 3-3 drew a 13.8 preliminary household rating and a 24 share, according to figures released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research.

The Washington-Philadelphia NBA game, which started at 6:30 and featured Jordan drew a 3.9 rating and a 7 share, NBC said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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