The New York Yankees come to town next week for a three-game Interleague series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
It’s impossible to see these two teams play and not be brought back in time to when the two franchises faced each other in the 2001 World Series.
The seven-game classic, won by the D-backs for their one and only championship, is one of the best World Series of all-time according to baseball pundits.
We thought we’d take a look back at the series, and offer up five things you may not remember about it.
5. Run Differential
The D-backs set a record for largest run differential by a winning team in the World Series, outscoring the Yankees 37-14 for a margin of +23. That broke the record previously held by the 1910 Philadelphia Athletics and the 1936 New York Yankees who both outscored their opponents by 20 runs.
Four of the seven games in 2001 were one-run affairs, with the Yankees winning three of them, all in New York. Game 1 at Bank One Ballpark was a 9-1 D-backs’ win, followed by a 4-0 Arizona triumph in Game 2. Returning home trailing three games to two, the D-backs crushed the Yankees 15-2 in Game 6 to set up the classic finale the next night.
Note: The D-backs’ run differential actually isn’t the biggest in World Series history. The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yankees in another seven-game thriller despite being outscored by 28 runs in the process.
4. Stingy pitching
Everyone remembers the Diamondbacks’ pitching effort in the series, but most don’t remember how great it was. Over the course of the seven games, Arizona pitching limited the Yankees to a .183 batting average — the lowest for any team in a seven-game World Series. Only three New York regulars — Alfonso Soriano (.240), Bernie Williams (.208) and Paul O’Neill (.333) hit better than .200. Derek Jeter batted just .148 (4-for-27) against the D-backs, which was by far his lowest batting average in a World Series in his career. That’s relevant — Jeter was a career .321 hitter in seven World Series appearances (38 games) in his storied career.
3. He did?
But do you remember who pitched in between them?
Miguel Batista, who started Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, came out of the bullpen to relieve Schilling in the eighth inning of Game 7. After the Yankees took a 2-1 lead on Soriano’s solo home run leading off the inning, Schilling struck out Scott Brosius and then allowed a single by pinch-hitter David Justice. Batista came in and threw one pitch, but it was enough to retire Jeter, who bounced to third, and the D-backs got Justice on a force at second for out number two. Johnson came in with two outs and the rest, as they say, is history.
The attendance for Game 7 was actually the smallest of the four games played in Phoenix in the series. Games 1 and 2 drew identical crowds of 49,646 while 49,707 flooded through the turnstiles for Game 6. The epic decisive game had a reported attendance of 49,589.
1. Only one loss
The words “Byung-Hyun Kim” were muttered under fans’ breath around Phoenix a lot during the series because of his penchant for giving up late home runs and failing to close out games. The truth is, the enigmatic Korean reliever was only saddled with one loss in the 2001 Fall Classic. That loss came in Game 4, when a Halloween pitchers’ duel turned into an Arizona nightmare after the stroke of midnight.
The D-backs led 3-1 going into the ninth. Kim retired Jeter, who tried to bunt his way on to lead off the inning. Then O’Neill singled to left. Kim struck out Williams and Arizona was just one out away from taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. But Tino Martinez jacked a home run to right-center field to tie the game at 3-3 and send it into extra innings.
In the 10th, Kim got Brosius and Soriano to fly out, but Jeter tagged him for a home run to win the game for the Yankees and tie the series up at 2-2.
The next night, after pitching 2.2 innings and throwing 61 pitches in Game 4, Kim failed to hold a 2-0 lead in the ninth, allowing a game-tying blast by Brosius with two outs. But it was actually Albie Lopez who took the loss in Game 5. Soriano knocked in Chuck Knoblauch with an RBI single in the bottom of the 12th to lift the Yankees to victory and give them a 3-2 series lead headed back to Phoenix.