The New York Yankees are down 2-0 in games to Arizona, but the defending champions are hardly out of the World Series.
The Diamondbacks “held serve” by capturing the first two games at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix behind the expected strong pitching of co-aces Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. The dynamic duo held the Bronx Bombers to just one run in 18 innings.
The scene shifts to Yankee Stadium for Tuesday night for Game 3 with five-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens opening as a $2.30 favorite against Arizona lefty Brian Anderson.
The Yankees have named Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez to start Game 4. The Diamondbacks have not named a starter, most likely working a strategy dependant on the outcome of Game 3. Miguel Batista is scheduled to oppose Hernandez in Game 4, although Schilling could be used on three days rest. Manager Bob Brenly also has Albie Lopez, who started against Atlanta in the NLCS as a Game 4 option.
The Diamondbacks were a 10-1 choice to sweep the four-game series prior to the start of Game 1.
New York is batting just .102 in the Series, but Schilling and Johnson have been nearly flawless in postseason play.
Although the Yankees have their backs against the wall, Arizona needs to establish another quality starting pitcher to take the heat of their two aces.
Anderson, a 29-year-old original member of the Diamondbacks, has never lasted past the sixth inning in any of his last five regular season starts. The Ohio native allowed 22 runs on 36 hits over 22 innings in those outings.
The ”˜over’ was 7-3 in Anderson’s last 10 starts. Anderson was a former member of the Anaheim Angels, but has not faced the Yankees over the past two seasons.
Clemens has been bothered by a hamstring pull in his upper thigh, but is one of baseball’s toughest competitors. The veteran right-hander has struggled this postseason, going 0-1 in three playoff starts. His ineffectiveness can be attributed to the injury.
The Yankees trailed Oakland 2-0 in games in the ALDS before rallying to sweep the next three games and win the series. New York then eliminated Seattle in five games after the Mariners had tied the major league’s all-time record for regular season victories at 116.
New York would seem to have a huge advantage in bullpens with ace closer Mariano Rivera and lefty setup man Mike Stanton each with ERA near 1.00 in the postseason. But neither pitcher has been placed in a key role due to the dominance of Schilling and Johnson.
The Arizona bullpen has come under great scrutiny and figures to be needed in each of the next two games.