(transferred; posted Oct. 23)
I didn't have much to say after Game Two, because the World Serious was all even going to the NL park, and the 11-10 game was hardly the kind of decisive performance we have come to expect from Anaheim. I felt, as many Angels probably did, that they were fortunate to have pulled out one win.
Last night, Tim McCarver promised us that with no DH, the cool weather and the park effect, it was all going to be different; a National League game. He forgot to inform the Angels. In the second inning, trailing 1-0 on a tainted run -- Lofton looked out at first on two great Molina pickoff attempts, but he was out at second; ump Mike Reilly blew an easy call -- a clutch two-out Scott Spezio walk gave Adam Kennedy another chance to play hero. His double, on which Mr. Bonds didn't look very nimble, would have tied the score had it not taken a San Fran bounce into the stands. The "logical" intentional pass to 8-hitter Molina was followed by a feeble Ramon Ortiz whiff, so the Giants escaped trouble. Temporarily.
I would have pitched to Bengie; I want a frightened, 150-pound non-hitter leading off the third. Instead, they got the Ecks factor. Walk. Erstad, double. Salmon, a high hopper, misplayed by usually reliable David Bell. An out, a Glaus RBI single and Spezio's perfectly placed 2-run triple. Instant replay for Dusty: first base open, two outs, he again chooses to walk the catcher, who hit .214 in the ALCS and at the time, a nice, round .000 in the Series. Sure, they retired "automatic out" Ortiz, whose career remains unblemished by a hit, but the move allowed the Angels to bat around, for the fifth time in the postseason, and set them up perfectly to do it again the next inning. So they did.
In the fourth, a double steal by Erstad and Salmon caught everyone else in Pac Bell napping, and let Garret Anderson's ground out drive in the fifth run. Baker had seen enough from Livan Hernandez, whose postseason perfection we won't be hearing about any more. Reliever Jay Witasick was worse, allowing a walk and three singles (they pitched to Molina this time, as first base was occupied) before fanning the anemic Ortiz.
Although the Giants woke up their crowd with two long balls in the fifth, they never got back in this one. I don't mean to diminish Barry Bonds' feat of homering in every World Series game he's ever played, but like Sunday night's missile off Percival, last night's was too little, too late. McCarver, who makes you long for another earthquake (he was speechless, just for a moment, in '89) told us, several times, how much "easier" it is to hit when you're trailing by several runs, because pitchers tend to throw fastballs down the middle. Timmy is occasionally correct, but he's always repetitive and tedious.
For me, the baseball gods have begun to smile on the better team. Mike Scoscia might have second-guessed his Game Four starter (and his decision to use John Lackey out of the bullpen on Sunday) if the Angels were down by a game. Now, especially the way his boys are rocking the SF hurlers, he can stick with the plan, get Jarrod Washburn an extra day of rest, and if the Series does return to Orange Country, be content with Appier and Ortiz at home on the weekend.
I mentioned before that Kirk Rueter could be the most difficult Giants starter to solve, and both Schmidt and Washburn impressed in the opener, so I'm expecting a couple of exciting "NL-style" games tonight and tomorrow. But the pressure is all on the Giants; one more home loss will effectively end the proceedings. The loose, confident Angels will virtually clinch a well-deserved championship by winning one more up north.
Playing without a DH (Fullmer/Wooten) to have guys like Ortiz and Lackey "hit" is a farce; the leagues must end this nonsense. Play by the same rules, I don't care which ones. In SF's case, Livan is more productive with a bat than the likes of Shinjo, Goodwin or the venerable Dunston, so their "traditional" lineup is that much stronger, not that it mattered Tuesday evening. It makes me wonder why Damon Minor, a lefty batter with extreme pop, isn't available, a highly questionable decision on Dusty's part, and underscores my point about the Angels' deeper lineup being their decisive advantage.