The 2001 World Series (the "November Series") took place between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks won the the best-of-seven series four games to three. The Series featured two extra-inning games and three late-inning comebacks. It ended on a game seven walk-off hit (the first since Edgar Rentería's in 1997), one of only a handful of Series to end in this fashion.
This was the first World Series ever played in the state of Arizona, while it was the third consecutive World Series game seven to end on a hit with the bases loaded in the bottom of the final inning (Florida Marlins 1997, Minnesota Twins, 1991). As of 2008, this is the last World Series in which the National League had home-field advantage, as they have yet to clinch it under the current All-Star Game format and was the last World Series not to feature a wild card team.
Arizona won the first two games at home handily, but New York won the next three in close contests in Yankee Stadium, including two dramatic ninth-inning comebacks against Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim. Arizona won the sixth game behind Randy Johnson, who then came in to pitch in relief of Curt Schilling in game seven. The Diamondbacks won the game 3–2, with Jay Bell scoring the winning run on a bloop single by Luis Gonzalez, in the bottom of the ninth inning off the Yankees' ace closer, Mariano Rivera.
The home team won every game in the Series. This had only happened twice before, in 1987 and 1991; in both cases, the Minnesota Twins won the Series. This was also the most recent World Series to feature two division winners — every Series since has featured at least one of the two Wild Card qualifiers.
Despite the closeness of the Series overall, the Diamondbacks outscored the Yankees 37–14 over the entire Series, as a result of large margins of victory achieved by Arizona in Bank One Ballpark relative to the one run margins at Yankee Stadium.
In addition to breaking the "Curse of The Balboni", Luis Gonzalez helped put an end to the so-called "Ex-Cubs Factor" jinx. The D-backs not only defied that "jinx" to win the Series, but two of the three ex-Cubs (Grace and Gonzalez) actively participated in the Series-winning rally.
|1||New York Yankees - 1, Arizona Diamondbacks - 9||October 27||Bank One Ballpark||49,646|
|2||New York Yankees - 0, Arizona Diamondbacks - 4||October 28||Bank One Ballpark||49,646|
|3||Arizona Diamondbacks - 1, New York Yankees - 2||October 30||Yankee Stadium||55,820|
|4||Arizona Diamondbacks - 3, New York Yankees - 4 (10 innings)||October 31||Yankee Stadium||55,863|
|5||Arizona Diamondbacks - 2, New York Yankees - 3 (12 innings)||November 1||Yankee Stadium||56,018|
|6||New York Yankees - 2, Arizona Diamondbacks - 15||November 3||Bank One Ballpark||49,707|
|7||New York Yankees - 2, Arizona Diamondbacks - 3||November 4||Bank One Ballpark||49,589|
Arizona showed no fear and chased Yankee's starter Mike Mussina after just three innings. The Yankees gave up five unearned runs and the Diamondbacks rode Curt Schilling's seven strong innings to a 9–1 rout. Craig Counsell homered off Mussina in the first and Luis Gonzalez homered in the third, drove in two runs, and scored twice.
Arizona continued to take control of the series behind the arm of Randy Johnson. The Big Unit pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only four baserunners while striking out 11 Yankees. Matt Williams hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Yankee starter Andy Pettitte as Arizona won 4–0 and took a commanding two games to none lead as the series headed to New York City.
The game was opened in New York by President George W. Bush, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike to Yankees backup catcher Todd Greene. Bush became the first sitting President to throw out a World Series first pitch since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. He also threw it from the mound where the pitcher would stand (unlike most ceremonial first pitches which are from in front of the mound) and threw it for a strike. Chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A" rang throughout Yankee Stadium. Yankees starter Roger Clemens allowed only three hits and struck out nine in seven innings of work. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera pitched two innings for the save. Scott Brosius broke a sixth inning tie with an RBI single to left. The Diamondbacks wasted a great outing from starter Brian Anderson by committing three crucial errors and running themselves out of the first inning.October 31, 2001 at Yankee Stadium in New York, New York
Arizona manager Bob Brenly took a gamble and started Curt Schilling on three days' rest. It worked as Schilling pitched seven strong innings and left the game with a 1–1 tie. The Diamondbacks took a 3–1 lead in the top of the eighth on an Erubiel Durazo double and a fielder's choice, which prompted Brenly to bring in closer Byung-Hyun Kim for a two inning save. Kim, at 22, became the first Korean-born player to play in the World Series. Kim struck out the side in the eighth, but the Yankees began their comeback in the ninth. First, Jeter tried bunting, but was out by one step. Then Paul O'Neill lined an opposite-field single in front of left fielder Luis Gonzalez. After Bernie Williams struck out, Tino Martinez hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw from Kim over the right-center field wall, tying the game 3–3. Brenly stuck with his closer as the game headed into extra innings. When the scoreboard clock in Yankee Stadium passed midnight, World Series play in November began. Derek Jeter, upon receiving a 3-2 pitch from Kim, hit an opposite field walk-off home run to give the Yankees a 4–3 victory and tie the series at two, making him the first player to hit a November home run and earning him the tongue-in-cheek nickname "Mr. November."
For game five, Brenly started Miguel Batista, who pitched a strong 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Mussina bounced back from his poor game one start, but allowed solo home runs to Steve Finley and Rod Barajas in the fifth. With the Diamondbacks leading 2–0 in the ninth, Brenly again went to his closer, and for the second night in a row Byung-Hyun Kim failed to hold the lead. Jorge Posada doubled to open the inning, but Kim retired the next two batters. Then, with two outs in the ninth Scott Brosius hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall to tie the game at two. For the second straight night, the game went into extra innings following a ninth inning home run and the Yankees won it in the 12th when Alfonso Soriano knocked in Chuck Knoblauch with a base hit off Albie Lopez. New York went ahead three games to two in the series as the teams headed back to Arizona. In the top of the ninth inning, with the Yankees down 2–0, Paul O'Neill (retiring after the series) was serenaded by Yankees fans chanting his name in unison.
With Arizona in a must-win situation, the Diamondbacks provided Randy Johnson all the offense he would ever need. Johnson struck out seven in six innings of work, giving up just two runs. The Diamondbacks rocked Yankee starter Andy Pettitte for six runs after two innings and nine more runs against reliever Jay Witasick in one and a third innings before Randy Choate and Mike Stanton kept them scoreless for the rest of the game. They hit six doubles and Danny Bautista went 3-4 with 5 RBIs. They set a World Series record with 22 hits and handed New York its most lopsided loss in 293 postseason games. The 15-2 win evened the series at three games apiece and set up a game seven for the ages between Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, again pitching on three days' rest.November 4, 2001 at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Arizona
It was a matchup of two 20-game-winners in the series finale that would crown a new champion. Clemens at 39 years old became the oldest game seven starter ever. Schilling had already started two games of the series and pitched his 300th inning of the season on just three days' rest. The two aces matched each other inning by inning and after seven full, the game was tied at 1–1. Brenly stayed with Schilling into the eighth, and the move backfired as Alfonso Soriano hit a solo home run on an 0-2 pitch. After Schilling got one out, he gave up a single to David Justice, and he left the game trailing 2–1. Brenly brought in Miguel Batista to get out Derek Jeter and then in an unconventional move, brought in the previous night's starter Randy Johnson, who had thrown 104 pitches, in relief to keep it a one-run game. It proved to be a smart move, as Johnson retired all four Yankees he faced.
With the Yankees ahead 2–1 in the bottom of the eighth, manager Joe Torre turned the game over to his ace closer Mariano Rivera for a two-inning save. Rivera was one of the strongest closers in the game, and had pitched brilliantly throughout the postseason up to that point. Rivera struck out the side in the eighth, including Arizona's sluggers Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, and Steve Finley, which lowered his ERA in the postseason to a major league-best of 0.70. Although he was sharp in the eighth, this game would end in the third ninth-inning comeback of the Series. Mark Grace led off the inning with a single to center. The real turning point was Rivera's errant throw to second base on a bunt attempt by Damian Miller, putting runners on first and second. The reason is that Derek Jeter tried to reach for the ball, but then got tangled in the legs of pinch-runner David Dellucci and was hurt and let the ball get away. Rivera appeared to regain control when he fielded Jay Bell's bunt and threw out Dellucci at third base, however third baseman Scott Brosius decided to hold the ball instead of throwing to first to attempt to complete a double play. Midre Cummings was sent in to pinch-run for Damien Miller. With Cummings at second and Bell at first, the next batter, Tony Womack, drove a double down the right-field line that evened the score and blew the save. Bell went to third and the Yankees pulled the infield in as the potential winning run stood at third. After Rivera hit Craig Counsell with a 1-1 pitch, the bases were loaded.
The winning run would be batted in with a gentle tap over the drawn-in infield. Luis Gonzalez lofted a soft single over Derek Jeter on an 0-1 pitch that plated Jay Bell with the winning run. This ended New York's bid for a fourth consecutive title and brought Arizona its first championship in just its fourth year of existence, making the Diamondbacks the fastest expansion team to win a World Series.