Though Ramon Ortiz, the Angels' Game 3 starter, was in line to pitch Game 7, Black told Lackey after that Game 4 loss, "We may need you to go in Game 7." Said Lackey, "I'll be ready."
The Giants won the next night, too, in a 16-4 laugher. They were particularly giggly about Darren Baker, the three-year-old bat-boy and son of the manager, who ran toward home plate to retrieve a bat just as Snow was scoring on a triple by Lofton. Snow, in midstride, grabbed the kid by the front of his jacket and dragged him out of danger as Bell came barreling home. Only the night before, the boy had run onto the field while a throw from the outfield was still in play, having skidded to the backstop. "I'm just glad he didn't get hurt," Aurilia said. "If we lost the game or something happened, we'd all be looking at it in a different way."
It was after Game 5 that Black told Lackey that he'd certainly get the start if there was a Game 7. Publicly, the Angels expressed concern about a case of tendinitis in Ortiz's right wrist but kept quiet about the decision to give the ball to Lackey. Privately, they trusted Lackey's cool, no-nonsense demeanor over Ortiz's streak of excitability. "John's a cowboy," Black said.
The decision seemed moot by the seventh inning of Game 6. So certain were the Giants of victory that when Baker removed Russ Ortiz after singles by Glaus and Brad Fullmer with one out in the seventh, he asked the pitcher if he'd like to keep the ball as a souvenir. So Ortiz walked off with the game ball—with eight outs to go in the game.
Baker brought in Felix Rodriguez to pitch to Scott Spiezio. It was the at bat that not only turned the World Series around but also defined Anaheim's relentlessness. Rodriguez winged eight pitches at up to 97 mph in the sequence, and Spiezio missed none of them. He took three for balls, fouled off four and smacked the last one into the second row of the rightfield seats for a three-run homer. "The ball was in the air long enough for me to say a prayer that it would go out," said Spiezio. "And it did."
Hallelujah, and heaven help the Giants. The Angels hold foul balls in high esteem. They began spring training with a 40-minute hitters' meeting in which manager Mike Scioscia and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher sold them on the importance of situational hitting—not a difficult sell when your situation in the previous season was 41 games out of first place. Spring training games were regarded as live rehearsals. Foul balls were noted with great enthusiasm.
"It was like a game, in which the coaches kept track of fouls," shortstop David Eckstein said. "It's called getting to the next pitch. The more pitches you see, the more likely you'll get something good to hit."
No team struck out fewer times this year than the Angels did (805). They won the wild card with a franchise-record 99 wins and eliminated the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins with 10-hit innings in each playoff series clincher. "There is no third of their order that you want to see," Colletti said. "They were as good as the reports said coming into the Series. Every time I looked at my scorecard, I'd think, Jeez, when does it get easy? It never did."
Even after Spiezio's home run, San Francisco still had a two-run lead with six outs to go, and Baker had his endgame scripted exactly as he wanted it: Tim Worrell for the eighth and Robb Nen for the ninth. But then Erstad did some rewriting, whacking a mistake of a changeup from Worrell for a leadoff homer in the eighth.
The waters kept raging: a single by rightfielder Tim Salmon and then a bloop single by Anderson that Bonds chased as if playing leftfield on roller skates. With runners at second and third, Baker summoned Nen, a palindrome closer in a palindrome Series who had a chance to save the first and last games. Symmetry and a hanging slider took a beating. Glaus drilled a two-run double, and just like that—the sixth hit in eight at bats for Anaheim—the champagne had to be hidden from sight in the San Francisco clubhouse. Workers were still hustling to remove cables and an awards platform as the Giants trudged back up the two flights of stairs and two ramps to their lockers. They were silent when, according to one player, Nikolai Bonds, the 11-year-old son of the leftfielder, groused, "We were up 5-0. How did we lose that game?" Said the player, "Nobody wanted to hear that." When reporters entered, masking tape still ringed the room like wainscoting.