Putting dreams on the line
All little boys dream of Game 7 ... but not about losingPosted: Sunday October 27, 2002 1:17 PM
Updated: Sunday October 27, 2002 7:08 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The San Francisco Giants did not want a Game 7 in this World Series. After their win in Game 5, they had hoped to wrap up their first World Series title since 1954 on Saturday night. They wanted no part of a risky winner-take-all Game 7.
But, really, what baseball-loving little boy doesn't want to play in a Game 7? Any kid who ever slept with his glove, who ever played stickball in the street, who ever tossed popups to himself or took swings in the backyard with his dad has played a Game 7 in his mind.
"This is it," Darin Erstad said after his Anaheim Angels beat the Giants in Game 6, 6-5, forcing Sunday night's Game 7. "For the first time of having the opportunity to play in the postseason, this is very special."
This may be a dream come true for every player on the Giants and the Angels, but for managers Dusty Baker of the Giants and Mike Scioscia of the Angels, Game 7 presents a pitching nightmare.
Beat up all postseason and practically abused in the Series, neither team has a strong pitcher left to start Game 7. The Giants will go with Livan Hernandez, who was untouchable as a member of the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins. But in Game 3 of this Series, the Angels touched him up for six runs in 3 2/3 innings, handing him the first postseason loss of his career.
The Angels will go with a rookie, John Lackey, who pitched in relief in Game 2 and gave up nine hits in five innings in a Game 5 start.
"It's pretty cool," said Lackey. "I'll go as hard as I can for as long as I can and see what happens."
This will be the polar opposite of last year's Game 7, when Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees hooked up with the Arizona Diamondbacks' Curt Schilling in a thrilling pitchers duel. But that's a major story in this Series: the lack of quality pitching.
When the Giants' Russ Ortiz went 6 1/3 innings in Game 6, it marked the longest outing by a starter of the Series. The Giants' ERA for this Series is 5.71. The Angels, thanks largely to giving up 16 runs in a Game 5 loss, have a 6.58 ERA.
Both Baker and Scioscia will practically dash to the mound to pull a pitcher Sunday night even though both bullpens are overworked, too.
"We're going to go with everybody," Baker said.
"Seventh game of the World Series," Scioscia said, "I think everything's up for consideration."
With the pitching so ineffective, the offenses have starred in this Series. The Angels, who have had at least 10 hits in five straight games, are hitting .326. The Giants are hitting .296.
Third baseman Troy Glaus, who smacked the two-run double in the eighth in Game 6 that completed an amazing Angels' comeback, is hitting .417 in the Series with three homers and eight RBIs. Teammate Tim Salmon is hitting .375 with two homers and five RBIs. First baseman Scott Spiezio is hitting .300 with eight RBIs.
The Giants, of course, have Barry Bonds, who is hitting .500 (7-for-14) and has been walked a record 12 times (seven intentionally). His on-base percentage of .731 is the highest ever in the World Series. He has reached base 19 of the 26 times he's stepped to the plate. Four of Bonds' seven hits have been homers, and he's driven in six runs.
San Francisco's David Bell (.350), Kenny Lofton (.333) and Jeff Kent (.320) also are having fine Series.
This has not been the prettiest Series, for sure, perhaps fitting the first meeting of two wild cards in the Fall Classic. But it has been, at the least, interesting.
And for those involved in Sunday night's Game 7, it's still dreamy.
"This," said Angels shortstop David Eckstein, "is what we've been waiting for all our lives."