Starters' efforts give managers no relief

Bullpens get early call as Appier and Ortiz falter

World Series

October 21, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Kevin Appier didn't have much. Russ Ortiz had even less. A pair of pathetic pitching performances turned Game 2 of the World Series into a manager's nightmare.

San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker went to his bullpen in the second inning. Anaheim Angels manager Mike Scioscia could only wait until the third.

By that point the score was already 7-5.

"You could tell it was going to be an offensive night the way the ball was carrying," Baker said. "And also by the way both teams were hitting."

Having seen an early five-run lead nearly disappear, and not wanting to fall behind in the series two games to none, Scioscia turned to John Lackey, who is scheduled to start Game 4.

Lackey pitched 2 1/3 innings and tossed 32 pitches, but Scioscia said Lackey will still be able to make his start Wednesday, with two days' rest.

After pulling Ortiz, Baker summoned Chad Zerbe, a 30-year-old left-hander who had never pitched in the postseason. Zerbe delivered the kind of performance that often goes overlooked in the box score and winds up being the difference in a postseason series.

From the end of the second inning through the middle of the sixth, Zerbe provided a sense of order for the Giants. Lackey and Zerbe's performances would have looked even better had the relievers who came in behind them not stumbled and allowed their inherited runners to score.

"Zerbe's performance was huge," Baker said. "For a young man in his first World Series appearance, I think he did an outstanding job."

So it was a tie game heading into the seventh inning, and the 18 runs scored to that point were the most since Game 3 of the 1997 Fall Classic, when the Florida Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians, 14-11.

But no matter how long it took to get there, and how wild it looked up to that point, Baker and Scioscia knew the game was in good hands. It was K-Rod vs. F-Rod.

Scioscia had already summoned 20-year-old phenom Francisco Rodriguez (aka K-Rod), who poured cold water all over the Giants with another impressive display. Facing the heart of San Francisco's order to start the sixth inning, Rodriguez fanned Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent then got Barry Bonds to ground out to first. Seven pitches, three outs.

Rodriguez, who improved to 5-0 in the postseason, retired all nine batters he faced - on just 26 pitches.

"That was incredible," Scioscia said.

But with the momentum shifting toward Anaheim at the seventh-inning stretch, Baker turned to his ace setup man, Felix Rodriguez (aka F-Rod), who sent the game into the eighth inning, still tied.

There's no telling how long this one might have lasted had Tim Salmon not come through with a two-run homer off Felix Rodriguez. That allowed Sciosica to bring on closer Troy Percival, and even though Barry Bonds hit his second homer of the World Series, it was game over, series tied.

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