By Matt Gelb
The Philadelphia Inquirer
These are the things so hard to explain in baseball, and just a few of the many reasons the San Francisco Giants are two wins away from a world championship.
In the fifth inning of San Francisco’s 9-0 victory in Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park, Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler crushed a ball to center, nearly 399 feet from home plate. It was a home run. Had to be.
But the ball bounced off the top of the wall and its backspin carried it into the glove of Andres Torres. Kinsler had a double and incredulously stood on second base. He was stranded there by Matt Cain, the Giants’ No. 2 starter, who has yet to allow a run this postseason.
In the bottom half of the inning, Edger Renteria murdered a 91-m.p.h. C.J. Wilson fastball. Renteria, the 33-year-old shortstop who has been around the game long enough to require a double take when informed of his age, had hit one home run in 93 days. On Thursday, he hit another.
And that was the difference. There was no pitching duel as expected in Game 1; instead it came one night later – until the Giants batted around and scored seven runs in the eighth inning. Cain, who has pitched 211/3 scoreless innings in his first postseason, was simply remarkable.
Now, the Giants are two wins away from their first world championship since moving to San Francisco in 1958. After a travel day Friday, the series shifts to Arlington, Texas, for Game 3 on Saturday.
After 18 runs, 25 hits, six errors and 12 pitchers in Game 1 on Wednesday, the two teams played baseball a tad bit more deserving of the Fall Classic. Game 2 turned ugly only in the eighth when three Rangers relievers walked four straight batters in an absolute meltdown.
There are flukes that have driven this Giants team, certainly, but with every victory, it becomes harder and harder to challenge San Francisco’s talent in this postseason.
Renteria’s hit was improbable. His last home run was Sept. 4. That was his only home run since July 27. Of course, Renteria is no stranger to key World Series hits, and within a minute of hitting the solo homer Thursday night, his iconic series-winning single in 1997 while with the Florida Marlins was being replayed on TV sets across the country.
If this postseason is a referendum on Bruce Bochy’s managing of a team of spare parts and “morons,” as first baseman Aubrey Huff called his teammates before Game 2, the Giants’ skipper is gaining respect by the day.
Once again, he made the right moves in Game 2. He inserted Nate Schierholtz into right as a defensive replacement before the seventh, and Schierholtz ran down a deep ball in the right-field gap two batters after coming into the game.
Bochy rode Cain into the eighth, but removed him at 102 pitches when Cain surely had some more tosses left in his right arm. But the manager wanted the lefthander Javier Lopez, perhaps the most unsung of the Giants’ heroes this postseason, to face Texas slugger Josh Hamilton. Hamilton represented the tying run. He took a first-pitch fastball from Lopez and then swung at the next one, weakly flying out to center.
Bochy, who has tinkered with every moving piece on his team, stuck with the same lineup as Game 1, and it paid off.
Cody Ross (who else?), led off the seventh with a walk and scored an insurance run. It was the last batter Wilson faced; he left the game with a blister on his left middle finger.
Ross advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, then scored from there on a blooper to short center off the bat of Juan Uribe (who else?). Uribe has just six hits this postseason, but eight RBIs, including the fateful one in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Phillies that won the pennant for these Giants.
Texas came within inches of scoring in the fifth, only to fall behind shortly thereafter.
The Giants have scored 20 runs in two World Series games. They scored 19 against the Phillies in six games of the National League Championship Series.
See Related: GIANTS WORLD SERIES 2010
See Related: JEWISH STARS OF THE GIANTS, RANGERS WORLD SERIES
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past six years. Email Bill Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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