Pouring it on
This Series has been about who scores the big inningPosted: Friday October 25, 2002 1:39 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The key to the 98th World Series, at least so far, has been the big inning. Chipping away doesn't work here. This Series is all about pouncing on the other guys and then pouncing again.
It's been a slugfest of a Series, featuring 17 home runs in five games (a record-tying 12 by the Giants), 69 runs (it's 38-31, San Francisco) and a pair of team batting averages that are soaring over .300 (Anaheim .328, S.F. 308).
"They say that good pitching will beat good hitting every day, and that's true," said Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn. "We just haven't been doing a very good job."
A team has scored at least 10 runs on four different occasions in the Series, only the second time that's ever happened. There have been 87 half-innings played in the Series. In 19 of them (about 22 percent), there have been multiple runs scored.
The Giants had five of those multiple-run innings in their 16-4 rout of the Angels in Game 5 on Thursday night. San Francisco put up three runs in both the first and second innings and added four runs in both the seventh and eighth. They also had a two-run sixth. The 16 runs matched the second-highest run total in Series history.
"Any time you can throw a pair of treys up there early," Giants manager Dusty Baker said, "your pitcher relaxes, the offense relaxes and becomes contagious and the next thing that happens is you get their pitcher's pitch count up pretty quickly."
That has been the story of the Series: Big innings that knock around the starting pitching and force a move to the bullpen. The Giants have had 11 multiple-run innings, the Angels eight. The Angels own the biggest inning of the Series, a five-run first inning in Game 2 that helped them to an 11-10 win in the biggest-scoring game of the Series.
In this Series, it's critical to have multiple multiple-run innings, too. The Angels have been held to just one big inning in a game three times, in Games 1, 4 and 5. Not coincidentally, they have lost all of those games.
The Angels have been scoring big all October. They had an eight-run inning against the New York Yankees in the divisional series and a 10-run inning against the Minnesota Twins in the American League Championship Series.
"We've had probably four or five innings that I haven't seen in any playoff I've ever been involved in," manager Mike Scioscia said earlier this week.
Before Thursday's Game 5, the Angels had the highest batting average in the postseason since divisional play began, at .332. After Game 5, their postseason average dropped to .328. It's still a whopping 40 points higher than any other team that has played in October and 60 points higher than the only other team remaining, the Giants. In the Series, the Angels have had at least 10 hits in four of the five games.
The Giants haven't been hitting quite as well, but they've been hitting home runs at a record rate. Jeff Kent had a pair of homers in Game 5 and Rich Aurilia added another to give the Giants 12 homers in the five games. That ties a record set by the 1956 Yankees, who took seven games to pound out 12 homers.
With the starters getting knocked around and the bullpens tired, it seems sure that the trend of big innings will continue. Game 6 is Saturday night in Anaheim, featuring Kevin Appier of the Angels (22.50 ERA in his one World Series start) vs. the Giants' Russ Ortiz (37.80).
"We know the Angels are a big comeback team. We also know they're a big-inning team, much like we are," Baker said. "The key is to add on … "
More runs, more big innings. That's what this World Series is all about.