Wait of the World -- Giants Win Series!

November 2, 2010, 2:30 am
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Mychael Urban

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Edgar Renteria, of all people.A 35-year-old shortstop with said-to-be fading range and a blasted-by-fans-as-bloated contract delivered to San Francisco its first-ever World Series title.He got more than a little help from Tim Lincecum, who with eight innings of three-hit, 10-strikeout work did to the Rangers vaunted offense what Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner did in Games 2 and 4.
But it was Renteria who struck the biggest blow in the Giants 3-1, title-clinching victory in Game 5 on Monday at Rangers Ballpark. Batting a stunning .429 in the Fall Classic heading into the contest, Renteria blasted a two-out, three-run homer off Texas ace Cliff Lee in the top of the seventh inning to snap a scoreless tie, secure the World Series MVP award, and send the Giants to baseball heaven.Forget about Willie Mac's ill-fated line drive in 1962. Scott Spiezio, circa 2002? Grab some pine, meat.The San Francisco Giants are the 2010 World Champions.
And Renteria, reviled by critics as overpaid and underperforming since signing a two-year, 18 million contract before the 2009 season, had as big a hand in making them so as anyone.Only in October."I know how bad Edgar wanted it," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was serenaded on the field by 200 or so fans who made the trip to the Lone Star State and stayed in the sections behind the visitors' dugout for hours after the game."It wasn't too long ago we had a little talk, and he said, 'I just want to go out and win another World Series.'"That's right, another. Or did you forget about Renteria's Series-winning single for the Marlins back in 1997?"It's pretty incredible what he's done in his career," Bochy said."Same emotions, same feeling," Renteria said of his twin titles. "I'm just so happy my teammates can all have this feeling, too."Lincecum, a playoff rookie, certainly had it -- and deserved it.The dual masterpiece that everyone seemed to expect in Game 1 didn't pan out, as both Lincecum and Lee were knocked around a bit; Lincecum won on the strength of lasting a little longer and getting a lot more offensive support.The first six innings, however, provided a look at Lincecum and Lee at their absolute best."Two great pitchers, coming off games they probably weren;t too happy with, I had a feeling it was going to be like this today," Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said. Lincecum -- who had faced three batters in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series just four days before his Game 1 start -- took the mound for Game 5 on his customary fifth-day turn. He looked much sharper for it. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth, and his pitch count through six innings of two-hit work was an economical 68, despite having walked one and struck out six. His primary weapon? A split-fingered changeup at its Bugs Bunny best, diving into the dirt as Rangers bats played the role of a flailing Elmer Fudd above it."Just awesome," rookie catcher Buster Posey said. "Incredible stuff from Timmy tonight."Lee -- who took the mound in Game 1 on an extra day of rest and repeatedly left pitches over the heart of the plate at AT&T -- was on turn in Game 5, too, and it showed.The Giants hit more balls hard off Lee than the Rangers did off Lincecum, but many of San Francisco's drives found Texas leather, and Lee's gorgeous, late-breaking curveball got him out of what very little trouble he encountered -- until the seventh.
"He was nasty," said the Giants unofficial postseason MVP, outfielder Cody Ross. "That was the Cliff Lee you expect to see every time he takes the mound."Yet Ross and Juan Uribe opened the seventh with singles, and Aubrey Huff's first career sacrifice bunt moved them into scoring position for DH Pat Burrell, who was benched for Game 4 after striking out eight times in his nine World Series at-bats.Burrell showed promise when he lined out to left field in his first at-bat, but whiffed again in his second. He came up empty again in the clutch, making it 10 strikeouts in 12 Series at-bats.But hitting behind him was the veteran shortstop from Colombia -- Burrell's performance opposite on the big stage. Again Renteria commanded it."He's a quality player," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You look at that lineup the Giants have over there, and Renteria, this wasn't his first World Series rodeo."Patiently laying off a pair of pitches he'd have jumped at during his frequent regular-season slumps, Renteria worked his way into a favorable 2-0 count and pounced on a cut fastball that neither cut nor was particularly fast (85 mph).As it disappeared behind the wall in left-center field, Ross jumped on the plate like a 12-year-old who'd been told his favorite player was sleeping over."I don't even remember what I did!" Ross said. "I just knew that the way Timmy was pitching. Wow, that was huge."When the stoic Renteria followed Uribe across the dish, Lincecum had a 3-0 lead. It didn't last.Nelson Cruz spoiled the shutdown inning Lincecum was seeking, slamming a solo homer to left with one out. The next batter, Ian Kinsler, drew a walk.At that point, Lincecum looked on the ropes, but he bounced back like a champ, striking out David Murphy and Bengie Molina to restore order and bring the noise in the stadium back down to a dull roar.Molina, by the way, went 0-for-3 against the ace he's credited for helping to develop when he and Lincecum were battery mates for about three seasons in San Francisco. Twice he went down on strikes, killing once and for all the notion that his intimate knowledge of Giants pitching would give the Rangers a Series edge. "They pitched so well," Molina said, and the numbers obviously back that up. The Giants scored 29 runs in five Series games. The Rangers had just 29 hits.Lee, who allowed six hits and struck out six, was replaced by Rangers closer Neftali Feliz for the start of the eighth inning. Such was the heightened sense of urgency in the Texas dugout.There was urgency in the Giants dugout as well. Lincecum, his pitch count at 92, was allowed to go back out for the bottom of the eighth, but as he did the San Francisco bullpen sprang to life.The two-time Cy Young Award winner didn't appear to notice.
Lincecum opened the frame with a 91 mph fastball and disposed of Mitch Moreland on three swinging strikes before retiring Elvis Andrus on a tapper in front of the mound, then Michael Young on a routine grounder to third.He needed all of nine pitches to get the Giants to the ninth. To the brink of history. To the brink of bedlam.That was it for Lincecum, who gave way to closer Brian Wilson for the final frame, and if the Rangers -- with their three most dangerous home-run threats due up -- weren't Fearing the Beard, they should have.Wilson whiffed Josh Hamilton to open his act, got Vlad Guerrero on an easy ground ball, then struck out Cruz to erase forever the torture of the previous 56 years and set off that bedlam.From Rangers Ballpark to the Bay Area and most certainly to New York City, where old-school Giants fans from back in the day surely shed a celebratory tear or two, there was pure, unbridled joy.And guess who summed up it all quite perfectly? Edgar Renteria, of all people. "It's unbelievable," he said. "It's unbelievable."

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