Fabulous Baker boys
Supporting cast -- batboy and all -- has Giants in commandPosted: Friday October 25, 2002 3:09 AM
Updated: Friday October 25, 2002 5:30 AM
By Stephen Cannella, Sports Illustrated
SAN FRANCISCO -- Forget Barry Bonds.
The Giants have a new MVP -- Most Valuable Pipsqueak. Itís Darren Baker, Dusty Bakerís 3-year-old son, who was again prowling the dugout and foul ground during Game 5 of the World Series as the teamís batboy.
After thrashing the Angels, 16-4, the Giants are now 8-0 this season when little Darren is in uniform. The kid is headed to Anaheim with the team for the weekend to help it nail down the franchiseís first World Series title since 1954.
Said his father, "A couple of guys said that if he doesnít go, they donít go."
Important though Darren may be, the Giants have a commanding 3-2 lead in the series thanks to other members of their supporting cast. On the field and in his mind, their world still revolves around Bonds.
But they found out early in the series that the Angels werenít going to let Barry drive in key runs and that they werenít going to win by relying on Bonds alone.
Bonds homered in each of the first three games. The Giants lost two of those because the rest of their offense sputtered.
Fast-forward to Games 4 and 5. Bonds didnít go deep in either one, though he did get on base. After being walked intentionally three times in Game 4 and racking up a single, two doubles and another intentional pass in Game 5, Bonds has been on base 16 times in 22 plate appearances in the Series.
Thatís a lot of baserunners, and the Angelsí pitching staff is beginning to crack under the pressure of constantly pitching out of the stretch. Whether out of fatigue or frustration, theyíre feeding the rest of the San Francisco hitters pitches to hit.
The Giants exploded on Thursday. Leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton went 3-for-6 and scored three times. Rich Aurilia had two hits, one of them a three-run home run.
Most important, their other MVP (the traditional kind), Jeff Kent, went 3-for-5 with a pair of two-run homers. That outburst ended Kentís 3-for-16 slump in the Series.
"Jeff will probably tell you he hasnít had the best series," first baseman J.T. Snow said. "We knew it was just a matter of time before he got some key hits. We know Barry gets a lot of the pub, and deservedly so, but we have a lot of other guys on this team who contribute."
Bonds recognizes the importance of that, and he was even able to admit that he was happy for Kent on Thursday night.
As for Darren Baker, those of you who wonder if itís such a good idea to have a 3-year-old wandering among the mayhem of the home-plate area during a major league game have good reason to be worried.
In the seventh inning, Darren prematurely scampered out to pick up a bat and was nearly steamrolled by Snow, who was scoring from second on Loftonís triple. Snow grabbed the tyke by the collar as he crossed the plate and carried him back to the safety of the dugout.
"His eyes were huge," Snow said. "I donít think he knew what was going on."
When the Giantsí whole lineup is clicking, neither do the Angels.