SAN FRANCISCO -- Center fielder Andres Torres shrieked in delight as Edgar Renteria rounded the bases with the home run that lifted the San Francisco Giants to their 2010 World Series title."He told me he would do it!" Torres bellowed to on-deck batter Aaron Rowand as the impact of Renteria's
SAN FRANCISCO -- Center fielder Andres Torres shrieked in delight as Edgar Renteria rounded the bases with the home run that lifted the San Francisco Giants to their 2010 World Series title.
"He told me he would do it!" Torres bellowed to on-deck batter Aaron Rowand as the impact of Renteria's drive sank in. It stunned Texas ace Cliff Lee in the seventh inning of Game 5, accounting for all of the Giants' scoring in their 3-1 triumph.
Not known for his power, Renteria nevertheless predicted to a few teammates before the game that he would go deep.
"I was joking," Renteria said later.
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Given the circuitous route that Renteria figuratively took before touching home plate that night, he probably was joking.
Approaching the end of a distinguished career that spanned 16 Major League seasons, Renteria started 62 games for the Giants in 2010, a personal low. He made the postseason roster, but he was relegated to pinch-hitting and reserve duties.
One trait of Renteria's remained constant, however: He was a winner. He proved that as a second-year player in 1997, when he lashed the Series-winning single for the Marlins. Renteria migrated to other successful organizations such as the Cardinals, Red Sox and Braves. Renteria thus became a respected authority in the art of gaining and securing the victorious edge.
That brought Renteria to the night of Sept. 23, 2010, when he gathered the Giants' position players around him alongside the indoor batting cage at Wrigley Field. He sensed that this team, with its talented pitching staff and solid core of hitters, could thrive in October. But the Giants, who trailed first-place San Diego by a half-game in the National League West at the time, looked shaky on offense. They had scored two or fewer runs in nine of their previous 13 games. The night before, Chicago blanked them, 2-0, on six hits. Rookie catcher Buster Posey saved the Giants on Sept. 21, ripping a home run among their five hits in their 1-0 triumph.
Passion and urgency fueled Renteria's speech. He poured so much emotion into his address that tears rimmed his eyes. Many of the Giants were crying, too. After regaining their composure, the Giants stormed past the Cubs that night, 13-0, regained first place and proceeded to win the division.
"It was the turning point for us," outfielder Cody Ross said. "He basically got up there and said, 'Guys, this is it for me. This is probably going to be my last season, and I want to go out a champion.' He got emotional and started tearing up, and I was tearing up, and I look around the room and everybody else was tearing up. It was an incredible, incredible experience."
Due to the scant playing time Renteria received, he could do very little to influence the Giants' fortunes. That changed during the NL Division Series against Atlanta, when the Giants realized that third baseman Pablo Sandoval couldn't play adequate defense and had to be benched. Renteria took over at shortstop, while Juan Uribe switched from shortstop to third base.
Renteria was ready. He batted .412 (7-for-17) in the World Series, scoring six runs and driving in six. Participating in his 62nd postseason game, Renteria went 1-for-3 and scored twice in the Fall Classic opener, which the Giants won handily, 11-7. Renteria's fifth-inning solo home run opened the scoring in Game 2 before the Giants took control of the game and the Series with a seven-run eighth inning. Final score: San Francisco 9, Texas 0.
Renteria's Game 5 homer broke a scoreless tie and led the Giants to the winner's circle of the World Series for the first time since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. Renteria's homer made him the obvious choice for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
After mashing his decisive hit, he was greeted at home plate by an ecstatic Rowand.
"I'm so glad that was you," Rowand said.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.