Diamondbacks win World Series
The final World Series comeback belonged to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The D'backs rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning against the greatest post-season reliever of all time and stunned the three-time defending champion New York Yankees, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series.
Luis Gonzalez drove in the winning run off Mariano Rivera to finish off a two-run ninth and give the D'backs their first World Series title.
In just their fourth year as a franchise, the D'backs became the fastest expansion team to win a World Series, breaking the mark of five years set by the 1997 Florida Marlins.
"We went through sports' greatest dynasty to win our first World Series," said beaming starter Curt Schilling after the game.
- Schilling, Johnson co-MVPs of World Series
- Rookie manager Brenly aces test
- Rivera finally falters
The win meant even more to Arizona considering the heartbreak the team felt after suffering two of the toughest losses in World Series history. They dropped Games 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium, blowing two-run leads in the bottom of the ninth both times.
However, that wasn't to be the D'backs' fate in Game 7. Now it was their turn to dish out the heartache.
After starter Schilling left the game with his team trailing 2-1 and with Rivera coming to the mound for the Yankees, it looked as if the D'backs were headed for another heart-breaking one-run loss.
But Arizona wasn't done.
Rivera gave up a single in the eighth and struck out the rest of the side, but there was still the ninth inning.
And that was all Arizona would need.
Mark Grace started things off with a single, Tony Womack tied the game with a double, and Gonzalez won it with a bloop hit up the middle as the Arizona fans went wild in the stands at Bank One Ballpark.
"I was trying to choke up," Gonzalez said of his one-out single that landed just behind shortstop Derek Jeter to send Jay Bell home with the winning run. "I knew he was going to come in. It's a dream come true.
"This is probably going to go down as one of the best World Series ever."
"Was there any doubt in anybody's mind that somehow, some way, Game 7 was going to be crazy, unlikely?" Grace said. "How could you get more unlikely than beating Mariano Rivera? But I'll tell you what, this team believes."
Rivera, who had saved 23 straight post-season games, had pitched six scoreless innings in the Series before Arizona won.
"That was the one guy we wanted to stay away from the whole World Series," Gonzalez said of Rivera. "We got him the one time it counted."
Randy Johnson, last night's winning pitcher in Game 6, got the win out of the bullpen by retiring four consecutive Yankee batters after Schilling went 7 1-3 innings.
Schilling and Johnson split the Most Valuable Player award. Neither was beaten in the series, with Johnson winning Games 6 and 7.
Schilling, starting on three days' rest for the second consecutive time in the series, left with one out in the eighth inning and trailing 2-1 after giving up a solo home run to rookie Alfonso Soriano.
When manager Bob Brenly went to the mound to talk to Schilling, he told him: "You're my hero. We'll get that one back. That's not going to beat us, big man."
And like so many other times in the post-season, Brenly was right.
"I'm a blind optimist," Brenly said after the game. "A lot of that comes from playing and coaching under Roger Craig. He was always looking for the silver lining, the possibility of getting back and winning the ball game. Thank God the players bought into it, too."
After Grace singled in the ninth, catcher Damian Miller came up to sacrifice pinch runner David Dellucci to second. The bunt went towards Rivera, who picked it up and threw to second for the force. But the throw was off and got past Jeter for an error, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Bell, a veteran playing in his first World Series, came in to pinch-hit and laid down a bunt, but the Yankees got the force at third.
Then it was Womack's turn. Womack laced Rivera's 2-2 offering down the right-field line to score pinch runner Midre Cummings from second to tie the game 2-2.
With runners at the corners, the D'backs momentum couldn't be contained. Craig Counsell, the only player on the Arizona roster with a World Series ring (won in 1997 with the Florida Marlins), was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Up came Gonzalez, who hit .325 in the regular season with 142 RBIs and 57 home runs. Though he was perhaps the team's offensive MVP during the regular season, he had been struggling through the post-season and was bothered by a sore left wrist.
Sore wrist or not, Gonzalez made enough contact to get the ball over Jeter's head in the drawn-in infield to bring in Bell from third base.
The Game 7 classic pitchers' duel between Yankees 20-game winner Roger Clemens and D'backs 22-game winner Schilling was all it was lived up to be.
After five scoreless innings, Arizona got on the board in the bottom of the sixth.
Danny Bautista's RBI double through the gap scored Steve Finley to give the home squad a 1-0 lead, but not for long.
Schilling had retired 16 straight batters before the seventh inning. Jeter and Paul O'Neill singled and Tino Martinez stepped up and tied the game at one apiece with an RBI single.
The Yankees were trying to win their fourth straight World Series title. The Bronx Bombers did it from 1936-39 and from 1949-53.
"We're obviously disappointed in the result, but not the effort," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.