Out of the Frying Pan
by Jessica Polko
Melissa Etheridge was on hand to sing the national anthem for Game 7 of the World Series. Despite some signs of wear and tear in her voice, she gave a strong performance, providing a suitable kickoff for the final game of the season.
As planned, San Francisco went with Livan Hernandez as their Game 7 starter, while Anaheim sent rookie John Lackey to the mound. Ramon Ortiz developed tendinitis in his wrist following his Game 3 start, so the Angels were left with Lackey, again pitching on short rest after his Game 4 start, which followed the added recent stress of his relief work in Game 2.
However Lackey quickly dispelled many of the question marks that might have been in viewers' minds, as he efficiently retired the top three in the Giants lineup. In the bottom of the inning you could tell the momentum was still with Anaheim after the win the night before. While they didn't score in the first, the Angels were productive on the bases and weren't slowed by Hernandez.
Bonds hit a line drive directly to where David Eckstein was playing, a little right of second base due to the shift, though Eckstein had to jump slightly to catch it. Benito Santiago and J.T. Snow followed Bonds with singles. Santiago scored from third on a sac fly by Reggie Sanders, putting the Giants on the board as they attempted to gather some energy.
San Francisco's performance didn't faze Anaheim. The Angels promptly tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Scott Spiezio took a walk and scored on a hard-hit double to the outfield wall off Ben Molina's bat. Lackey brought any drive remaining in the Giants' offense to a halt in the top of the third, allowing Anaheim back to the plate to continue their rally.
Eckstein and Darin Erstad led off the inning with a singles to left. Hernandez then came in on Tim Salmon with a pitch that hit Salmon's top hand on the knuckles as he gripped the bat. After a few minutes of clutching the sore hand and a check-up from the trainers, Salmon remained in the game and trotted to first base. At that point, the Giants decided to start warming up some relievers in their pen, but Hernandez stayed in the game to pitch to Garret Anderson, who hit a double to the right field wall.
While Sanders was bending down to pick up the ball next to the fence, a fan reached over the wall and swatted him on the back with thunder sticks. Sanders wasn't really impeded by the act, but the fan was nonetheless severely out of line and should have been immediately removed from the park with a lot of fanfare. Although the person was reportedly moved later, we don't know if they were ejected.
Eckstein, Erstad, and Salmon all scored on the Anderson double. San Francisco ordered Hernandez to intentionally walk Troy Glaus and then brought in Chad Zerbe from the pen; he managed to retire the next three batters, holding the Angels lead to 4-1.
Up second in the fourth after a Kent strikeout, Bonds successfully reached base on a drive that Troy Glaus limited to a single by making a diving play to his left as he was playing over by second on the shift. Santiago singled into center, moving Bonds to second, but both runners were stranded when Snow and Sanders each flew out, ending the half-inning.
Kirk Rueter took over in the bottom of the fourth, and he made a strong case in the next few innings that he deserved the Game 7 start after Hernandez's postseason winning streak ended in Game Three. Over the next four innings, Rueter struck out three while allowing only one walk and one hit, a double by Molina. Kent helped him out of his one tight spot by making a diving catch of an Eckstein line drive to end the sixth inning with Molina stranded on third.
David Bell almost had a hit to lead off the fifth, but Erstad made a diving catch of his line drive, followed by a rather superfluous somersault. With that help, Lackey was able to complete the five innings Anaheim wanted from him before turning handing over the 4-1 lead to the bullpen.
Brendan Donnelly relieved Lackey in the sixth. While he effectively retired Kent on a groundout and Bonds on a weak infield popup, he then walked Santiago and allowed a double to Snow. However Dusty Baker pinch-hit for Sanders with Tom Goodwin, who struck out, ending the inning and stranding the runners. In the seventh, Donnelly dispatched the only three Giants to bat.
Francisco Rodriguez took over from Donnelly in the eighth, struck out Rich Aurilia and Kent, pitched around Bonds, and then struck out Santiago. San Francisco sent in Tim Worrell to pitch the bottom of the inning, and although Worrell attempted to compensate for his poor Game 6 performance with a one-two-three inning, the Giants were still down by three going into the top of the ninth.
Troy Percival took the mound to close out the game in the ninth. Following his pattern from previous playoff games, Percival allowed the game to grow a bit too interesting for the comfort of Angels' fans. Snow hit a lead off single, but he was forced out at second and replaced on the basepaths by Goodwin, who hit into the fielder's choice. Anaheim allowed Goodwin to take second and then walked Bell. The Giants then gave the Angels an out by pinch-hitting for Pedro Feliz with Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who struck out. We held our breath as Percival pitched to Lofton, who'd come up with big hits in earlier postseason games. However Lofton flew out harmlessly to Erstad in center.
The Angels won the World Series for the first time in their franchise history and every player on the team earned their first World Series ring.
Three-year-old Darren Baker cried in the Giants' clubhouse and for the moment Bonds stood away from the cameras. Of course, he's accused of behaving surly since the loss, but what do people expect? He just lost the World Series, an activity that doesn't usually elicit odes of joy. Bonds likely realizes that this season was probably his best shot at a ring, so I see no reason for him to be amiable now.
Troy Glaus took home the World Series MVP trophy, though he understandably seemed much more pleased with the team win. Glaus went 10-for-26 in the Series with three doubles and three homers. He had a 4:6 BB:K, 8 RBI, and scored seven runs. By comparison, Bonds went 8-for-17 with two doubles, four homers, and 6 RBI, walked 13 times with 3 strikeouts, and scored eight runs. While his performance was outstanding, the award rarely goes to a player on the losing team. Bonds also didn't help his case by packing most of his performance into the first half of the Series.
The game moved very quickly, finishing faster than every game in the Series excepting Game 4. Like Star Trek Movies, the even-numbered games of this Series offered the best stories. Game 7 didn't possess the necessary drama to make the 2002 World Series a truly standout fall classic. However, the game provided a suitable ending to a fairly strong season of baseball.
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