Saturday, October 26, 2002
Updated: October 27, 4:45 AM ET
World Series diary: Game 6
By Rob Neyer
At which moment, I learn that Shawon Dunston has once again been assigned the duties of designated "hitter." I predicted the Giants would win Game 6 and thus the World Series, but just seeing Dunston's name next to the letters "D.H." makes me wonder what the hell I was thinking.
Two outs, man on first base, and Bonds gets the intentional free pass.
You know, it's one thing to set the World Series record for intentional walks, which I believe Bonds did way back in Game 4, with his fifth of the Series. But this is something completely different. This is a team that's been absolutely terrorized by a mere man, a man who is not capable of hitting the ball over the fence every time he swings the bat.
All of the analyses I've seen of the advisability of walking Bonds consider the situations when you have to at least think about it; that is, with first base open. But this ... I can't imagine there's any way to justify what happened just now, in the first inning of a scoreless game.
It worked. Santiago popped out. Of course, it worked for a while in Game 4, too.
Well, that's a relief.
Russ Ortiz got through the first inning without allowing a baserunner, and Kevin Appier gave up just the single to Kent and walk to Bonds. Which is a nice change from Game 2, when both pitchers got hammered in the early going. The occasional slugfest is certainly entertaining, but when the stakes are this high, you hope to see most of the players at the tops of their games. Not to mention the batboys.
Seeing a replay of Benito Santiago from behind reminds me of something that always struck me as eminently sensible.
When Santiago came up with the Padres in 1987, he took the number 9. But during the 1991 season, he switched to two numerals: 09. Why? Because with just the single digit, the back strap for his chest protector ran down the middle of the 9, thus obscuring it. So Santiago came up with a fairly novel solution to his sartorial problem.
As I recall, this was seen as evidence that he was something of a prima donna. Always made sense to me, though.
Kevin Appier just wasted four pitches.
By that, I mean that he threw four more effort-ful pitches than he had to, if his goal was to walk Bonds anyway, which he did on five pitches.
The alternative? There are two of them. He could, of course, have thrown four straight pitches six feet high and four feet outside, as he did last time. This has the advantage of placing virtually no strain on the pitcher's arm. And he also could have buried his first pitch -- an offspeed pitch, ideally -- in Bonds' backside. This has the advantage of being both quick and unlikely to inflict any serious pain.
But instead, Appier used up five pitches out of what is probably a limited allotment.
Would you agree that seeing the same non-controversial play replayed from four different angles doesn't add a whole lot to the viewing experience?
If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times.
Shawon Dunston is God.
OK, so I used a version of that joke in Game 5. But it only seems appropriate. After all, I didn't think that Lofton even should have been playing in Game 5, and he came up with a couple of big hits. I didn't think Dunston should have been playing in Game 6, and he just hit a two-run homer off Appier.
As McCarver has said again and again, Dusty Baker called on Dunston in Games 2 and 6 because he's a good low-ball hitter, and Appier keeps the ball down when he's effective. And so Baker deserves some of the credit for what just happened. That said, it's probably worth remembering that Dunston hit one home run during the regular season.
Dunston's Game 6 home run -- it traveled all of 335 feet -- doesn't top the list of horribly unlucky things that have happened to the Angels over the years.
It certainly does make the list, though.
Can we now officially declare that Francisco Rodriguez is human?
He's been exposed by Barry Bonds, who of course might not be.
K-Rod may be great, but he ain't great enough to sneak a high fastball by the greatest hitter you've ever seen.
I've not often said this, but ... Kudos to Fox. They just showed a clip from the 1954 World Series, of Giants batboy Chris Durocher, who of course was the son of Giants manager Leo Durocher. Further, Joe Buck told us that Chris was also in the dugout in 1951, when the Giants played the Yankees in the World Series.
I've read a few score of books about 1950s baseball, and some of them about Durocher's Giants in particular. But I don't remember ever reading about Chris Durocher, and the parallel between the Durochers and the Bakers -- the Giants, as you know, haven't won a World Series since 1954 -- is a fine thing to know.
With Russ Ortiz heading to the bench with one out, two runners on base, and the Giants leading 5-0, you have to hope that the Angels keep the rally going long enough to score at least two or three runs.
At this point, we can safely describe the 2002 World Series as "good."
But "great"? Hardly. To reach that lofty status, you have to play seven games or play six games with most of them close. To this point, we've had three close games and two blowouts, and if this game doesn't get closer, all we'll remember about the 2002 World Series is the postseason redemption of that Bonds character.
If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times ...
Just kidding. Scott Spiezio isn't a god. He just plays one on TV.
And now we've got the makings of a great World Series.
I think Tim McCarver might be a little confused.
It's the top of the eighth, and the Angels trail 5-3. According to McCarver, Troy Percival should be in the game right now, because the Angels simply can't afford to give up any more runs.
About that, he's right. And if this were the ninth, well then of course Percival should be pitching. But it's only the eighth, and so the Angels still have another critical defensive inning ahead of them. What's more, the Giants have a number of right-handed hitters coming up this inning, and it's rational of Scioscia to think that Brendan Donnelly can take care of business.
And with Darin Erstad's home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth, I officially dub thee "A Great World Series."
If the Giants lose Game 6 - and at this moment, it looks like they will - who do we blame? I certainly don't know that Dusty Baker should have done anything different. He rode his starter as long as he could, and then he trotted out his best relievers.
And his best relievers are very good. Just not tonight.
Well, that was odd. A sacrifice bunt with runners on the first and second, and one out. By a guy who's never pitched a professional inning in his life.
I mean, Jose Molina's not much of a hitter, but the percentages just don't figure. Reader Rick Bergstrom thinks Shawn Wooten should have pinch-hit for Molina, defense be damned. And I'm inclined to agree.
And so they'll play seven.
According to reader Jonathan Zimmerman, since 1985 the team with home-field advantage has won 14 of 16 World Series, with the exceptions being the Braves twice (1992 and 1999). Further, home teams are 14-2 -- after tonight, it's 15-2 -- in Games 6 and 7.
Meaningful? Or random.
The Giants must hope for the latter.