The two Red Sox series were great for us Sox fans, but lacking in any real drama for other fans.
But a close look at some of the games played in the World Series this decade shows there was quite a bit of drama.
The White Sox may have swept the Astros in four games… but the last three games were all thrillers.
There were big hits from unlikely sources. Little regarded infielders like Jose Vizcaino, Alex Gonzalez, Geoff Blum and Mark Bellhorn all turned into late inning World Series heroes.
And the last walk off homer in a World Series game was hit by someone who had zero regular season homers that year.
The Red Sox and White Sox broke long curses. So did the Yankees (who consider a 9 year drought to be alarming.)
Each of the recent expansion teams (the Marlins, the Rockies, the Diamondbacks, the Rays) made the World Series… and two of the original expansion teams (the Angels and the Astros) finally made it all the way to the Series.
And proud franchises like the Cardinals and Phillies won again while the Tigers, Mets and Giants managed to return.
One team blew a 5-0 lead in a clinching game… one saw their best chance to tie the series end when their superstar was picked off of first…
And one series in 2001 was so exciting it briefly made people forget the horrors that hit the U.S. just a month and a half before.
Perhaps there was more excitement in the World Series than we originally remembered!
And when need be, I’ll have some honorable mentions.
For the first five innings, Al Leiter and Andy Pettitte kept the game scoreless. In the sixth with two outs and Timo Perez on first, Todd Zeile hit a long drive that sure looked like a 2 run homer.
Perez thought it was gone as he celebrated rounding second. The problem was it hit the wall and left fielder David Justice threw to Derek Jeter who relayed to Jorge Posada, throwing out Perez to end the inning. That run off of the board would come back to haunt the Mets.
The Mets would take a 3-2 lead into the ninth when they did something that is always dangerous: They handed the lead to Armando Benitez. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out and by a miracle all they could do was tie the game on a sacrifice fly by Chuck Knoblauch.
The Mets couldn’t get a base runner in extra innings while the Yankees stranded 5 runners in the 10th and 11th. With 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 12th, Jose Vizcaino became an unlikely World Series hero by singling home the winning run.
How could the series have unfolded differently if the Mets won the opener? I am sure Timo Perez and Armando Benitez think about that.
Barry Bonds finally got to play in a World Series game and he made the most of it. Leading off the second inning, Bonds crushed a homer off of Jarrod Washburn to give San Francisco the early lead. Reggie Sanders followed with a homer of his own.
For such a low scoring game, it was a slug fest. Troy Glaus hit two homers and J. T. Snow smacked a 2 run shot.
In the end, the Giants bullpen did the job with 3 1/3 no hit innings as San Francisco won their first World Series game in 40 years.
Just 2 days after the Aaron Boone game and just 4 days after the Steve Bartman game, two exhausted teams met to play the World Series.
Torre used Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina and David Wells in the Boone game and it wasn’t clear who would get the ball in Game 1. It turned out to be Wells.
The Marlins used speed and little ball to push a pair of early runs across. Juan Pierre drove the Yankees crazy, scoring one in the first and driving in a pair in the fifth.
Somehow Brad Penny, Dontrelle Willis and Ugeth Urbina made those three runs stand up. The Yankees left runners in scoring position in the first, third, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings.
After the Red Sox made it past the Yankees in the ALCS, overcoming the 3-0 hole, they jumped right into the World Series swinging. The had an early 7-2 lead over the Cardinals and it looked like a laugher.
But St. Louis, who had their own tough series against the Astros in the LCS, fought back and tied the game… first 7-7 and then 9-9, thanks in part to errors by Manny Ramirez on back to back plays in the 8th.
The Curse looked alive and well…
But in the 8th inning, Mark Bellhorn, who had homered in games 6 and 7 of the ALCS, hit a go ahead homer off of Julian Tavarez. Keith Foulke, the most underrated hero of the 2004 post season closed the game out and the Red Sox were off and running.
Best Game 2 of the World Series for the 2000s
The Astros looked to even the series in Chicago and took a 4-2 lead into the 7th inning thanks to a Lance Berkman 2 run double.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, the White Sox rallied, thanks to a hit by pitch credited to Jermaine Dye. If that pitch hit him, it hit a thread of a jersey sticking out a few inches… but Dye took first anyway.
Reliever Chad Qualls came in for Houston and Paul Kornerko hit his first pitch into the stands for a no-doubt-about-it Grand Slam that gave the White Sox the lead.
In the top of the 9th, the White Sox were one out away from winning when pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino (hero of Game 1 of the 2000 World Series) smacked a 2 run game tying single.
In the bottom of the 9th, Brad Lidge made his first appearance since letting up Albert Pujols’ home run in the NLCS.
With one out he served up a walk off homer to Scott Podsednik that sent Chicago into hysterics.
It’s one thing to let up a game winning shot to Albert Pujols, the best hitter in the game. It’s another thing to let one up to Scott Podsednik, who had a grand total of ZERO home runs in the regular season.
It would not be the last time Brad Lidge lost a critical World Series game.
Honorable Mentions for Best Game 2 of the World Series for the 2000s
The drama in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series couldn’t be found in the box score. The game ended up being a 1 run game, but that is because the Mets scored 5 in the top of the 9th, but never did have the tying run on base.
The real drama came in the first inning when Mike Piazza fouled a ball off Roger Clemens and the bat broke. The barrel of the bat flew out towards Roger Clemens and he then threw the bat back at Mike Piazza.
Or that is what he did if you saw the event with your two eyes and had a brain.
Roger Clemens claimed he didn’t throw the bat at Piazza (even though he DID throw the bat at Piazza.) He had no shortage of excuses… He was throwing it back to the Mets dugout (even though he threw it in the direction of the Yankees dugout)… He thought it was the ball (????)
But of course the two had bad blood between them and of course he flung the bat back at him as a sort of “That’s the BEST YOU CAN DO?” macho display.
Clemens managed to throw 8 innings of shutout ball that game. A lot of Met fans felt like he should have been tossed in that inning. It wasn’t a pleasant series for Mets fans.
The Angels came out smoking in Game 2, knowing they could not be down 0-2 going back to San Francisco. They scored 5 runs in the first off of Russ Ortiz including a steal of home. But the Giants responded with 4 the next inning on back to back homers by Reggie Sanders and David Bell.
The two teams slugged it out, exchanging leads until the game was tied 9-9 with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th. Tim Salmon crushed a tie breaking homer off of Felix Rodriguez giving the Angels the lead.
Barry Bonds hit one of the longest home runs you could ever imagine with 2 outs in the 9th to make it a 1 run game, but the Angels held on… and Giants fans have to wonder how the World Series would have been different if they won a game where they scored 10 runs!
I know it is difficult to remember, but there WAS tension in the 2007 World Series.
After the Game 1 blow out, the Red Sox looked to take complete control of the Series in Game 2. But the Rockies did ever so briefly what the Cardinals couldn’t during the entire 2004 World Series: They took the lead… and they did it in the first.
And suddenly the Rockies looked like they might be making the Series interesting. If the Rockies won Game 2, then the Red Sox would be throwing an inconsistent Daisuke Matsusaka and young Jon Lester in Games 3 and 4… could the Rockies refind their winning ways?
The Red Sox tied the game and Mike Lowell’s double gave the lead back to the Sox… but it remained a 1 run Red Sox lead when Hideki Okajima relieved Curt Schilling with 2 on and 1 out in the 6th.
Okajima retired all 7 batters he faced. But when Papelbon relieved Okajima in the 8th, Matt Holliday greeted him with a single. Todd Helton came up as the go ahead run… but Papelbon picked Holliday off at first base, ending the inning and the threat.
The Rockies played well in Games 3 and 4, but after the pick off the suspense was over. 2007 was the Red Sox year and they would complete the sweep 3 days later.
Best Game 3 of the World Series for the 2000s
The Astros turned to NLCS MVP Roy Oswalt to stop the White Sox and through 4 innings, it looked like he was up for the job.
Houston built up a 4-0 lead going into the 5th and looked like they were cruising. But the White Sox erupted for 5 runs in the fifth, highlighted by a lead off homer by Joe Crede and a two out, two run RBI double by A. J. Pierzynski.
Now the White Sox seemed poised to take a 3-0 series lead. But with 2 outs and nobody on in the 8th, the Astros rallied, highlighted by a 2 run Jason Lane double to tie the game.
Then the White Sox kept dodging bullets. El Duque Hernandez worked out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the 9th. The Astros left men in scoring position in the 10th and 11th and squandered a lead off walk in the 13th.
Finally in the 14th, with 2 outs and nobody on, reserve infielder Geoff Blum homered to right field to give the White Sox the lead. Chicago then tacked on a second run.
In the bottom of the 14th, the White Sox turned to Game 2 starter Mark Buehrle to close out the thriller and put the South Siders on the verge of a sweep.
Honorable Mentions for Best Game 3 of the World Series for the 2000s
The Yankees had won the last 10 World Series games played. They were on a 14 game World Series winning streak and after the gut wrenching Games 1 and 2 wins, they seemed ready to sweep the Mets.
El Duque Hernandez was 6-0 lifetime in the post season and ready to go in Game 3.
In the 6th, the Mets managed to tie the game 2-2 but left the bases loaded. In the 8th, Benny Agbayani doubled off of El Duque giving the Mets the lead. Of course Armando Benitez let up a lead off single in the 9th, but he held onto the win and the Mets had life.
With the series tied at 1 back in Miami, Mike Mussina and Josh Beckett locked up in a classic pitchers duel. Mussina let up 1 run over 7 innings, striking out 9 and walking only 1.
Beckett pitched 7 1/3 innings, letting up only 3 hits and striking out 10. But Derek Jeter knocked him out of the game with a double… and Jeter would come around to score the go ahead run with 2 outs on Hideki Matsui’s single.
The Yankees would tack on four more runs to make the score seem more lopsided that it was. Beckett got the hard luck loss… but he would get revenge later.
45 year old Jamie Moyer made his first ever World Series start count. He pitched into the 7th inning and left as the potential winning pitcher as the game went into the 8th.
But then Tampa Bay’s B. J. Upton basically decided to tie the game by himself. He beat out a grounder to shortstop, stole second and scored when he stole third and the throw got away.
In the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies rallied without hitting the ball out of the infield.
A hit batsman, a wild pitch and an error by the catcher put Phillies left fielder Eric Bruntlett on third with nobody out.
Two intentional walks later, Grant Balfour faced Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz who tapped weakly to third base. Evan Longoria’s throw home sailed high and Bruntlett scored the winning run, putting Philadelphia up 2-1 in the series.
Best Game 4 of the World Series for the 2000s
Thanks to Miguel Cabrera’s first inning home run, the Marlins jumped on Roger Clemens early and took a 3-0 lead. Clemens settled down to pitch 7 strong innings and the fans in Miami gave him a prolonged standing ovation, knowing that this was probably the end of his career.
(He would pitch 4 more seasons.)
Carl Pavano pitched 8 masterful innings and the Marlins got to one strike away from tying the series at 2 each. But Ruben Sierra hit a game tying triple in the 9th, sending the game into extra innings.
Joe Torre opted not to use Mariano Rivera until the game became a save situation. Jose Contreras threw 2 shutout innings. Jeff Weaver, who hadn’t pitched in 28 days, came in amd allowed a walk off homer to Alex Gonzalez.
Instead of a 3-1 series lead, the Yankees were in a 2 game tie. The decision to use Weaver would be mentioned as one of his biggest managerial blunders.
Honorable Mentions for Best Game 4 of the World Series for the 2000s
The first inkling that the 2001 World Series was going to be really special happened in Game 4. Oh sure, Game 3 was a tight game and the appearance of W. throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium was great… but there was still a sense that the Yankees wouldn’t be able to win with Johnson and Schilling pitching.
And it sure looked like that was the case in Game 4, the first World Series game ever played on Halloween. Schilling was tremendous for 7 innings, letting up only 1 run, striking out 9 and walking 1.
The Diamondbacks handed closer Byung-Hyun Kim a 3-1 lead with 2 outs and 1 on in the 9th, it looked like the Yankees were going to go down 3 games to 1 in the series.
Then Tino Martinez unloaded on a two out pitch and homered to center, tying the game. Kim managed to wiggle out of more trouble in the 9th but Derek Jeter’s 2 out homer in the 10th after midnight won the game and tied the series, making him Mr. November.
Clearly a great series was brewing.
The Angels, behind Troy Glaus, looked like they were poised to take a 3-1 series lead. Glaus’ homer gave the Halos an early 3-0 lead. But the Giants fought back to tie the game on Benito Santiago’s RBI single in the 5th.
Francisco Rodriguez, the mysterious rookie that nobody could hit all post season, was brought in to pitch the 8th with the score tied. The Giants figured him out with two singles and a passed ball, giving the Giants a 4-3 lead.
In the 9th, the Angels put the tying run on, but Robb Nen induced Brad Fullmer to hit into a game ending double play, tying the World Series at 2 wins apiece.
When Johnny Damon hit a lead off homer to start the game, it was clear the Red Sox were hell bent to close the World Series out without any more delay. Derek Lowe pitched 7 shutout innings and Trot Nixon added two more runs to give the Sox some breathing room.
Then Keith Foulke came in and shut down the Cardinals… and we Red Sox fans finally got to see something we were never sure we were actually going to see: A Red Sox World Series celebration.
It seemed like a once in a lifetime celebration and we may have partied too much for your liking.
I don’t care.
It was a great night, if not actually a great ballgame.
The Astros, barely clinging to life down 3-0, turned to Brandon Backe to save the World Series. He held his end of the bargain, throwing 7 innings of shutout ball, letting up 5 hits with no walks.
The problem for Houston was Freddy Garcia, a former Astros farmhand, was shutting them down as well. He kept the Astros off the board over his 7 innings of work, including striking out Jason Lane with the bases loaded in the 6th.
In the 8th inning, Brad Lidge was brought into the game. He let up a lead off hit to Willie Harris and two batters later Jermaine Dye singled him home for the game’s first run.
The Astros put runners on the corners in the 8th but couldn’t score.
In the 9th, with a runner on, Division Series hero Chris Burke hit a foul pop that White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe caught with a spectacular play into the stands.
Pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro then hit a grounder to Uribe and was thrown out by a step to give the White Sox the sweep.
The City of Chicago finally had a World Series winner… and to the delight of White Sox fans, it wasn’t the Cubs!
The heavily favored Tigers were down 2-1 in the series but took an early 3-0 lead off of NLCS hero Jeff Suppan. But Yadier Molina’s double cut the lead to 3-2.
In the 7th, Curtis Granderson slipped on the wet Busch Stadium grass and allowed David Eckstein’s fly ball to drop into a double. He would score when Detroit pitcher Fernando Rodney threw away So Taguchi’s bunt (yet another error by a Tigers pitcher.) Preston Wilson would single home the go ahead run on a play where Albert Pujols was thrown out at third to end the inning.
In the 8th, the Tigers rallied with a Pudge Rodriguez lead off double and a Brandon Inge game tying double.
In the bottom of the 8th it was the Cardinals turn to rally. Yadier Molina led off the inning with a walk and with two outs David Eckstein again came through, this time with an RBI double.
The Tigers went down 1-2-3 in the 9th to give St. Louis a stunning 3-1 series lead.
Down 2-1 in the series and facing CC Sabathia in Game 4, the Phillies were in a very bad spot. And it looked even worse when the Yankees took a 4-2 lead into the 7th.
Chase Utley hit his third homer off of Sabathia to make it a 1 run game but the Phillies still trailed by a run with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 8th.
But then Pedro Feliz hit a game tying homer off of Joba Chamberlain that made every Phillies fan think the same thing at the same moment:
“If the Phillies could hold the Yankees scoreless in the 9th, then they could win the game with a run in the bottom of the 9th… and have Cliff Lee pitching Game 5… and the Phillies could be up 3 games to 2 going back to New York.”
Brad Lidge got the first two outs in the 9th and had 2 strikes on Johnny Damon… who… just… kept… fouling… off… pitches.
Finally Damon plunked a single into left. And then stole second… and realized nobody was covering third and took off for third.
Then Lidge hit Mark Teixeira… and every Phillies fan all started gulping at the same time.
A-Rod doubled home the go ahead run and Jorge Posada singled home two more.
With the Yankees up by three with Rivera on the mound, that potentially magical 9th inning turned into a 1-2-3 formality, and the Phillies best chances were dashed.
Best Game 5 of the World Series for the 2000s
On the heels of the startling Game 4 win by the Yankees, a decision by Arizona manager seemed to doom his club.
He pitched Curt Schilling on short rest in Game 4 hoping to put the series away. But with the blown save, he was now starting Miguel Batista with the series deadlocked.
As it turned out, Brenly’s decision didn’t backfire. Batista was tremendous, pitching shut out baseball into the 8th.
Once again the Diamondbacks gave Kim a 2 run lead in the 9th. Once again the Diamondbacks were one out away from winning their third game and sending the series back to Arizona where a rested and ready Randy Johnson was waiting to clinch the World Series.
There was no way the Yankees could do it again, could they?
Yup. Scott Brosius took the hero role this time and clubbed a game tying shot. As a Red Sox fan, I always hated Brosius. But with some distance (and the 2004 and 2007 Series to mollify me) I can admit his reaction was perfect. He couldn’t believe he did what he did.
The Yankee bench couldn’t believe it. The place wasn’t so much cheering as they were reeling in disbelief. My friend, the great writer Adam Felber, was at the game and he said the people around him almost couldn’t let themselves believe the Yankees did it in back to back nights.
After that, the rest of the game was a formality. The Yankees would win when Alfonso Soriano singled home Chuck Knoblauch. Now the World Series had entered the “All Time Great” category… and there would be one more heart stopper to come.
Honorable Mentions for Best Game 5 of the World Series for the 2000s
The Mets pinned their slim World Series hopes on the arm of Al Leiter, and manager Bobby Valentine seemed willing to lead on Al until his arm fell off.
The Mets took a 2-1 lead into the 6th when eventual World Series MVP Derek Jeter homered to tie the game.
Leiter looked ready to send the game into the bottom of the 9th tied when he struck out the first two batters in the top of the 9th. Then the roof caved in.
Posada walked on a full count and Scott Brosius walked. Then on Leiter’s 142nd pitch Luis Sojo of all people singled home Posada with the go ahead run and Jay Payton’s bad throw allowed Brosius to score.
The Mets brought up Mike Piazza in the bottom of the 9th as the tying run and he hit a ball to the deepest part of the ballpark where Bernie Williams tracked it down to give the Yankees the World Series title.
Down 3-1 in the Series, the Tigers looked defeated. They were making errors and throwing wild pitches and looked flat. Then Sean Casey launched a 2 run homer, briefly giving the Tigers the lead.
But yet another error by a Tiger pitcher (this time Justin Verlander) put runs on the board and helped give St. Louis the lead right back.
The 5th game became a validation of Jeff Weaver’s strange up and down career. Labeled a loser in New York and cut by the Angels earlier in 2006, Weaver was masterful in the clinching game. He threw 8 solid innings, letting up only 4 hits and 1 earned run while striking out nine.
In the 9th, Adam Wainwright pitched around a walk and a double to strike out Brandon Inge and give the Tony LaRussa led Cardinals an unlikely World Series title.
In terms of elapsed time from first pitch to last pitch, this was easily the longest World Series game ever played. According to baseball-reference.com, the game lasted 3 hours and 28 minutes.
But that is not taking into account the fact that the game started on October 27th and ended on October 29th.
With rain in the forecast, Game 5 went on as planned with NLCS MVP Cole Hamels up against All Star Scott Kazmir. The two teams played in ridiculously wet conditions and a delay seemed inevitable and a shortened game seemed possible.
Could the World Series be clinched on a rain shortened game?
We’ll never know because almost right after the Rays tied the game in the 6th, the tarp came out and the game was delayed… almost on cue from a commissioner who didn’t want to see a 6 inning final game of the World Series.
Bud Selig suspended the game, citing a rule that existed only in his mind, and we all had to wait.
2 days later, the two finished the World Series in a Reader’s Digest version of baseball. With the game resuming in the bottom of the 6th, Geoff Jenkins doubled and scored on a Jayson Werth single.
But Rocco Baldelli homered to tie the game again and preventing Cole Hamels from getting his second World Series win. In the 7th, Carlos Ruiz singled home Eric Bruntlett to give the Phillies the lead.
The Rays tried to rally in the 9th but with 2 on,Eric Hinske struck out to end the series. My wife thought he looked feeble at the plate.
Philadelphia went into a great celebration… 48 hours after first pitch!
The Phillies were clinging to life in Game 5, down 3-1. Chase Utley’s 5th home run, matching Reggie Jackson’s 1977 total, gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead in the first inning. And a big rally in the 3rd inning made the score 6-1 Phils with Cliff Lee on the mound. The score was 8-2 going into the 8th and Charlie Manuel thought the game was so well in hand that he replaced Shane Victorino with Ben Francisco.
But these were the Yankees and no lead would be safe. A-Rod doubled home two off of Cliff Lee in the 8th and the Yankees would cut the lead to 8-5.
In the 9th, Manuel did not hand the ball to Lidge but rather to Ryan Madson, who let up a double and a single to the first two batters he faced. The tying run came to the plate with nobody out.
Jeter hit into a run scoring double play, but Johnny Damon singled bringing Teixeira to the plate as the tying run.
Madson got Teixeira out swinging, leaving A-Rod on deck and sending the series back to New York… where the Yankees would clinch in game 6.
Best Game 6 of the World Series for the 2000s
In many ways as cruel a game to tortured fans as Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was to Red Sox fans and Game 7 of the 1997 World Series was to Cleveland Indian fans.
The Giants were up 3-2 going back to Anaheim and looked ready to FINALLY win their first World Series since coming over to California in the 1950s.
And early on, the game looked more like a coronation than a contest.
Veteran Shawon Dunston homered giving the Giants an early lead. Bonds hit a monstrous homer off of Francisco Rodriguez and the Giants went into the 7th with a 5-0 lead and Russ Ortiz dealing.
And my dad, as big a Giants fan as you will ever meet, was sitting in Scotland listening to the game.
In the 7th with 1 out and 2 on, Dusty Baker took Ortiz out… then stopped and gave him the game ball, as if the game was already won.
Baaaaaaad idea Dusty.
Scott Spiezio fouled off about 400 pitches before hitting arguably the most underrated homer in World Series history. It literally changed the tone of the game and series and direction of both franchises with one swing.
It didn’t give the Angels the lead… nor tie the game… or even make it a 1 run game.
But suddenly a 5-0 laugher was a 5-3 game… and there was a sudden feeling of desperation in the Giants dugout.
Darin Erstad hit a homer to lead off the 8th to make it 5-4. Then the Angels put the tying and go ahead runs on base with nobody out in the 8th. Robb Nen was called in to get a 6 out save, but he was in an impossible situation.
Troy Glaus doubled home both runs to give the Angels a 6-5 lead. But there was one more obstacle for Angels closer Troy Percival: Avoid Bonds in the 9th.
The Giants needed two base runners to get to Bonds… but Percival got them 1-2-3, forcing a game 6 and crushing Giant fans from San Francisco to Scotland.
Honorable Mention for Best Game 6 of the World Series for the 2000s
Leading the series 3-2, Marlins manager Jack McKeon gambled big time on Game 6. He threw Josh Beckett on short rest. If Beckett lost, he would throw Mark Redman in Game 7 of the World Series in Yankee Stadium. If Redman lost Game 6, then Beckett would throw Game 7 on full rest.
It seemed like the risk outweighed the reward.
The point was moot. Beckett was outstanding, throwing his second complete game shutout of the post season.
The Marlins rallied with 2 outs and nobody on in the 5th to push a run across Andy Pettitte and added another one in the 6th thanks to a Derek Jeter error.
Beckett retired the last nine batters he faced including Jorge Posada who grounded back to the mound and Beckett tagged him out.
Appropriately enough, Beckett ended the World Series unassisted.
Best Game 7 of the World Series for the 2000s
After Randy Johnson and friends blew out the Yankees in Game 6, the Series went the distance… as was fitting.
Also fitting was the fact that two aces were facing off. Eventual Cy Young winner Roger Clemens with playoff hero Curt Schilling.
Clemens struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings. He left with the score tied 1-1.
Schilling pitched 7 1/3 innings, striking out 9, but letting up a solo homer to Alfonso Soriano in the 8th that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Arizona manager Bob Brenly brought Randy Johnson out of the bullpen on no days rest to get the Diamondbacks out of more trouble in the 8th.
But by then it was too late. The Yankees had brought in Mariano Rivera for a 2 inning save on three days rest. Rivera got through the 8th and went to the 9th… poised to send a post September 11th New York into delirium and be the first team since the 1949-1953 Yankees to win 4 World Series in a row.
Mark Grace led off the 9th with a single. Then Damian Miller hit a ball back to Rivera that looked like it might have been a double play… but Rivera threw the ball into center field.
Was it possible? Could Rivera blow a game?
The next play was a Jay Bell bunt that Rivera fielded and threw to third for the out. Yankee fans (and evidently some Yankees) thought Brosius should have thrown to first to get the double play.
The very next batter was Tony Womack who doubled into right field. For a moment, I thought it was going to score both the tying and winning runs. Instead it tied the game. Womack’s hit should be ranked as one of the most underrated in World Series history.
After Rivera hit Craig Counsell, Luis Gonzalez came up with the infield drawn in. Well we all know what happened. In fact Tim McCarver knew it was going to happen BEFORE it happened.
Gonzalez hit a floater over Jeter’s head and the mighty Yankees were toppled.
The winner was baseball as the 2001 World Series has to be on anyone’s short list for greatest World Series of all time.
Honorable Mention for Best Game 7 of the World Series for the 2000s
Lest we forget… the Giants had a Game 7 to play right after blowing the 5-0 lead in Game 6. And they took an early 1-0 lead.
But Dusty Baker’s decision to start Livan Hernandez over Kirk Reuter proved to be disastrous. Hernandez looked awful over the first two innings and only a base running blunder by David Eckstein kept the Angels from scoring more than 1 run in the first 2 innings. Hernandez clearly shouldn’t have pitched the third… or at least be lifted if he let up a base runner.
Instead he loaded the bases with nobody out… and then let Garret Anderson unload them with a bases clearing double. In the end, he didn’t record an out in the inning. Kirk Reuter would come in the next inning and throw 4 innings of 1 hit shut out ball… but by then it was too late.
John Lackey pitched into the 6th and the bullpen did the rest. When Troy Percival got Kenny Lofton to fly out in the bottom of the 9th, the Angels won their first ever World Series… and the Giants had to ponder “What if?”
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