|Angels at Giants, Game 4|
By Dinn Mann
Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5 | Game 6 | Game 7 Pre-game
Major League Baseball's most memorable moments, presented by MasterCard, are poised to get us in the mood for more. The Angels looked unstoppable Tuesday. The Giants' Kirk Rueter (14-8 with a 3.23 ERA in the regular season; 1-0, 4.09 in 11 League Championship Series innings) is facing gigantic pressure in the first World Series start of a Major League career that began in 1993. Rueter, 31, and a left-hander is facing an Anaheim lineup that's batting .353 in the Fall Classic, .335 in the postseason. The Angels are averaging eight runs and 14 hits a game through the first three games against the Giants. They're averaging seven runs and 12 hits a game this month. Their cumulative score in these playoffs: 84-55. Anaheim's starting pitcher (John Lackey), in other words, has a lot on his side, even though he made a relief appearance (32 pitches, 2 1/3 innings, two runs, two hits) in Game 2 on Sunday at Edison Field. This day also happens to be Lackey's birthday, his 24th. Soon, it'll be Rueter vs. Lackey. The way previous World Series have played out illustrates what's at stake: Of the 38 teams leading 2-1 to have won Game 4 (taking a 3-1 advantage), all but six have gone on to win the Series. A ray of hope for San Francisco: In Game 4 history in which one team leads two games to one, the team leading 2-1 is 38-38. Enjoy the ceremonies, then, count on additional magic and memories from Pacific Bell Park.
Is the Ripken moment your No. 1 moment? Doesn't have to be. Baseball is history. Baseball is debate. No other sport has this texture, this depth of social and surreal stuff. Don Larsen's perfect game didn't make the Top 10. Bobby Thomson's shot heard 'round the world didn't. Reggie Jackson's three home runs in one World Series game didn't. On and on and on. Picking one, picking five, picking 10 -- nobody wins and everybody wins. That campaign, that riveting video salute to all the moments, is purely the stuff of goose bumps. Ripken getting the top total tells you something about timing, about how perspectives evolve, how the entire baseball nation appreciates work ethic and positive, winning ways in an age of greed and corporate shenanigans. Ripken is a poster player for businesslike brilliance.
Natalie Cole's singing of the National Anthem, accompanied by a choir, led all those goose bumps to linger.
Now, with history on our minds, play ball and see if Barry Bonds and Co. can make some more. It says here they will, momentarily.
John Lackey, a right-hander pitching on his 24th birthday, takes on Kenny Lofton. The count goes from 2-0 to 2-2, and then Lofton chops one to the first-base side of the mound. The ball is out of Lackey's reach, and Lofton earns an infield single. That brings Rich Aurilia to the plate. The vibe is good on San Francisco's side so far. But yes, the night is very, very young. As FOX tells us, Aurilia had a record-10 sacrifices in the League Championship Series. He shows bunt and fouls off the first pitch. He swings and misses for the second strike. On 0 and 2, Aurilia reaches down and sends a low-outside pitch into right field for a single that makes it first and third with nobody out. That's the situation for Jeff Kent, with Barry Bonds on deck. On 2 and 2, Lackey just misses on a pitch outside. With the count full, Lackey sends a breaking ball Kent's way that starts more toward the center of the plate but curves out of reach. Kent goes for the bait, striking out. Bonds, the man with the golden 007 home runs this October, approaches the batter's box. Lackey will have nothing to do with Bonds, the man who steps onto a stage as confidently anyone you'll see. It's an intentional walk, loading the bases, still with just one out. The plan works. Benito Santiago grounds into a double play: shortstop David Eckstein fields a routine grounder near second base, steps on the bag and fires in time to first. Angels 0, Giants 0
Eckstein turns two to get the Angels out of a jam
John Lackey grounds out to his counterpart, Kurt Rueter. David Eckstein tries his bunt his way to first, but David Bell charges, gloves the ball and gracefully gets the ball to J.T. Snow in plenty of time. Darin Erstad is then retired promptly on a second-to-first groundout.
Angels 3, Giants 0
Tim Salmon strikes out looking, frozen on a nifty 3-2 curveball from San Francisco starter Kirk Rueter. Garret Anderson singles softly down the third-base line, a ball fielded by the third baseman, David Bell. Another double play rears its head. Troy Glaus grounds into this one: 6-4-3.
Angels 3, Giants 0
Kirk Rueter legs out an infield hit down the first-base line, more in front of the plate than anything. And in an interesting follow-up to that, a twist that suggests the Giants' luck might change, Kenny Lofton bunts a fair-or-foul little roller down the third-base line. Troy Glaus plays the go-foul, go-foul game with the ball, waiting it out, but it teases and twists as it hugs the chalk. After finally going foul ever-so briefly, the ball is picked up by Glaus at the split second it re-introduces itself with the tightrope of chalk. Extremely impressive call by the home plate umpire, Mike Winters. With runners on first and second, Rich Aurilia hits paydirt, drilling a single to right-center, driving in run No. 1 and creating the third consecutive two-on, nobody-out table-setting for Jeff Kent. He's 0 for 2 under those circumstances so far tonight (strikeout, lineout). He's still 0 for 2, but this time he gets an RBI. Kent hits a shallow-to-medium depth fly ball to right, and Lofton tags up and scores. Tim Salmon's throw is late and wild (he caught it while leaning backward slightly), allowing Aurilia to reach second. With the open base, Barry Bonds is predictably put on board, intentionally. So here's Benito Santiago, in the bright, burning spotlight again. In this case, Santiago appears cured from double-playmaker disease. He lines a game-tying single to center. He's on first, Bonds is on second, and Aurilia is accepting high-fives in the dugout. Pitcher John Lackey settles down some, getting J.T. Snow to fly out to pretty far out in right, far enough that it looks like Bonds should have tagged up. In fact, Bonds arguably should have tried for third on Santiago's single. Which is to say, Snow could have given the home team the lead with that airlift to right. But no. And, to be fair, Bonds is the least of San Francisco's problems on offense. On a 2-and-2 pitch with two outs, Reggie Sanders strikes out, swinging, at a breaking ball that disappears, down and away. But we have ourselves a brand-new tone to this game.
Angels 3, Giants 3
Jeff Kent's sac fly scores Kenny Lofton
Benito Santiago's RBI single ties the game, 3-3
Ben Weber has entered the game in John Lackey's place. Lackey was effective in his five innings of duty, again cementing his reputation as a versatile and valuable weapon. David Bell is the first hitter facing Weber, a robotic right-hander who wears those fashion-be-damned sports goggles. Bell laces a line drive down the third-base line. He's going for two. Garret Anderson fields the ball quickly and, with very little trouble, makes Bell pay for his aggressive base running; Bell is an easy out as he slides into second (tagged by Benji Gil). So now it's pinch-hit time for the Giants. Kirk Rueter's night is done. The pinch hitter, Tom Goodwin, walks on five pitches. He's on first with Kenny Lofton approaching the plate, bat in hand. On a 1-1 pitch, Goodwin steals second on a strike (taken). At 2 and 2, Lofton sends a well-hit flyout to center; Goodwin gets to third. It's Weber vs. Rich Aurilia in a two-out spot. Aurilia hits a looping liner toward left, bringing fans to their feet, but the ball isn't hit very hard -- it's fading downward -- and third baseman Troy Glaus intercepts it en route to the outfield.
Angels 3, Giants 3 Top 7
Once again showing their Felix hunger, the Giants send Felix Rodriguez to the mound. That other, buzzworthy Rodriguez -- Francisco -- is warming up in the Anaheim bullpen as Orlando Palmeiro pinch-hits for reliever Ben Weber. Palmeiro is a strikeout victim, swinging, and unable to keep up with Felix's fastball. Enter David Eckstein. Exit David Eckstein. He pops out to second on a 95 mph pitch. Darin Erstad bats with two outs and nobody on. Erstad's hitting streak -- spanning all 12 of the Angels' postseason games this year -- is in jeopardy. Erstad grounds out to first, a solid grounder fielded by J.T. Snow, who flips the ball to Rodriguez.
Angels 3, Giants 3 Bottom 7
The curtain rises for Act 3. It's Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds and Benito Santiago due up. It's Francisco Rodriguez playing king of the hill. Kent is so due they might have to induce delivery at home. The San Francisco second baseman has looked like somebody else in this World Series. He's 3 for 15. Make that 3 for 16 (.188 in the World Series, .313 in the regular season) after a swinging strikeout. Granted, Rodriguez has been fantastic. In fact, the young right-hander is not the least bit afraid of pitching to Barry Bonds, the scariest man in either lineup, in any lineup, for that matter. On a 2-2 pitch -- Rodriguez's fifth slider in as many pitches -- Bonds grounds out to first. Benito Santiago gets a more attractive count, 2 and 1, then takes a slider for a well-placed strike that curls over the inner half of the plate. Santiago then flies out to left.
Angels 3, Giants 3 Top 8
Tim Worrell is in the game for San Francisco, confronted by Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus, who has six solo homers and a two-run HR (third inning tonight) in this Fall Classic. Salmon smokes a fly to deep center, and Kenny Lofton gets a great jump and races to the track for the catch. Anderson grounds out sharply to first on a 1-1 offer. Two down. Glaus, batting .438 in the Fall Classic with three home runs, bats. The 1-0 pitch he takes for a strike looks like it was there for the smacking. On 1-1, Glaus hits a solid foul but was way out in front, though. Worrell works him outside next, and it results in a foul away. On 1 and 2, Glaus becomes a routine out to Bonds in left.
Angels 3, Giants 3 Bottom 8
Before we pin a Congressional Medal of Honor to Francisco Rodriguez's jersey, it merits pointing out that Rodriguez was touched up for a home run by Alfonso Soriano in the Division Series. He has been downright dominant and a treat to watch since. None of that matters now. The Giants know they're in a must-win game. J.T. Snow knows it. Snow starts off the home half of the eighth with a (down, ball, down) floating line-drive single to right. Not only that, Snow gets to second on a mishandled slider by Bengie Molina. Trying to get Snow to third, Reggie Sanders squares around to bunt. He does, foul, in the air, looking too far toward the dugout to be caught. That is, except, Anaheim first baseman Scott Spiezio dives adamantly, determined, and makes a slick catch. One out. That brings David Bell to the plate. He grounds a 1-0 pitch up the middle, to the shortstop side of the bag, scoring Snow, who, ready to unmask the catcher in a collision, doesn't have to because the throw is a little late and a little to the first-base side of home. Rodrigeuz appears slightly rattled. San Francisco fans are making noise. The count goes to 2 and 0 on Ramon Martinez, leading to a meeting on the mound. The game resumes, with the count unfolding to 3-0, then 3-1 (taken), then 3-2 (taken as well), and Rodriguez rallies, striking out Martinez. Better yet, from Anaheim's perspective, Bell is thrown out trying to steal second. But, and this is as big as buts get, the Giants have their first lead of the game. Giants 4, Angels 3
Bell breaks tie with an RBI