The Diamondbacks’ Five Greatest Games
November 4, 2001: That Bloopin’ Hit
One of the most memorable games in World Series history capped the Diamondbacks’ one and only championship in just their third year of existence, the fastest any expansion team has ever won it all. And it came not with a bang, but with a weakly poked bloop by Luis Gonzalez which nestled in behind second base and a drawn-in New York Yankee infield to score the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Both starters—Curt Schilling for Arizona, Roger Clemens for the Yankees—dueled through the seventh inning, with Clemens lifted after 6.1 innings, allowing just a run and striking out ten. Schilling held even with Clemens until he served up a solo homer to Alfonso Soriano in the eighth, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Randy Johnson, having thrown seven innings just the night before, came on in relief to record the final out of the eighth and threw a scoreless ninth to keep the Diamondbacks to within a run, but the comeback challenge was daunting as Mariano Rivera, with his impeccable postseason resume, came on in the bottom of the eighth with the goal of shutting down the D-Backs for the final six outs. He only got four of them.
Mark Grace led off the bottom of the ninth with a single; Rivera fielded a bunt from the next batter, Damian Miller, but his throw to force out the lead runner at second went wild into center field. Two batters later, Tony Womack doubled to bring home the tying run, Craig Counsell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out—forcing the infield to play in—and Gonzalez finished the historic comeback with one of baseball’s most famous bloop hits to ice the series in the desert before 50,000 delirious fans.
May 18, 2004: The Perfect Unit
In the midst of, easily, the Diamondbacks worst season (51-111), came one of their greatest moments. Randy Johnson, now 40 years of age, took the mound in Atlanta against the Braves before 23,000 fans and was locked in from start to finish, retiring all 27 Atlanta hitters he faced—13 of them by strikeout—to become the oldest player in major league history to throw a perfect game. Johnson was rarely challenged; the closest the Braves came to a hit occurred in the sixth inning when the Atlanta pitcher, Mike Hampton, was retired by a half step at first base on a slow grounder to shortstop Alex Cintron. By the ninth inning, Johnson was firing away as if it was the first; his 117th and final pitch of the night was a 98-MPH fastball that struck out Eddie Perez.
September 24, 1999: Sophomore Success
Wrapping up a remarkable turnaround in just their second season, the Diamondbacks clinched the NL West with an 11-3 rout of the Giants at San Francisco, on their way to a 100-win season a year after losing 97. The Diamondbacks jumped all over Giant starter Shawn Estes, scoring four in the first, two in the third and two more in the fifth off solo shots from Kelly Stinnett and Tony Womack. Johnson started the game and overcame a first-inning, three-run blast by Ellis Burks to go the distance, striking out 11 while walking none. Arizona’s clincher came during the Giants’ last-ever homestand at Candlestick Park.
May 8, 2001: Tying the Record—Or Maybe Not
After the perfect game, Johnson’s second biggest achievement with the Diamondbacks took place indoors at Bank One Ballpark when he struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds (and walked none) to tie a major league record—but the game went into extra innings, and because Johnson’s nine innings of brilliance wasn’t a complete game, it doesn’t count in the record book per MLB rules. Johnson allowed just a run on three hits, but Cincinnati starter Chris Reitsma largely matched him inning for inning if not K for K (he struck out only two in eight innings of work).
Johnson himself initiated the small rally that would produce the Diamondbacks’ lone run in regulation with a leadoff single; the team’s best chance to win came in the eighth with runners at second and third and two outs, but Reggie Sanders flied out to end the threat. Johnson, who retired eight of the last nine batters he faced, left after nine innings—and the Diamondback bullpen got into trouble in the 11th by allowing two runs on two walks and an error, but the Diamondbacks countered with three in the bottom half of the frame, capped by a bases-loaded walk to Matt Williams to win the game, 4-3.
October 6, 2007: Overextending Success
The overachieving Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2007 despite becoming the first team in the history of the majors to post a league-best record and still give up more runs than they scored. But they proved that they belonged in the postseason by sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS, winning the clincher with relative ease at Wrigley Field, 5-1. The Diamondbacks wasted no time getting things started as Chris Young hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first, and added another tally in the frame when Justin Upton brought home Stephen Drew with a two-out single. On the mound, journeyman pitcher Livan Hernandez (playing his one full season with Arizona) leaned on his mostly successful postseason past and kept the Cubs at bay, allowing one run in six innings of work. Solo home runs in the sixth (by Eric Byrnes) and ninth (by Drew) cemented the win and took the D-Backs to their second NLCS appearance, where they were swept by the red-hot, wild card Colorado Rockies.
Arizona Diamondbacks Team History: Year-by year records, statistics and an oral history of the Diamondbacks, decade by decade.
The Diamondbacks' Five Greatest Hitters: A list of the five greatest hitters based on their productivity and efficiency.
The Diamondbacks' Five Greatest Pitchers: A list of the five greatest pitchers based on their productivity and efficiency.
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