Suddenly, warming trend in Bay Area

October 25, 2002|By LAURA VECSEY

SAN FRANCISCO - Welcome to the Jeff and Barry Show.

What's the title of this World Series drama?

"Just A Bunch of Grouches Standing Around Whapping Homers."

It's always an interesting situation when two MVP/All-Star teammates who can barely stand the sight of each other combine to lift their team to within one game of a coveted World Series championship.

Kent's locker is on one side of the clubhouse, Bonds' is down at the other end and never the two shall meet - except maybe at a parade in downtown San Francisco later this month. Now that would be worth the price of admission.

"Hey, Jeff, love your motorcycle. Where'd you get it?" Bonds might say.

"Hey, Barry, love your big muscles. Where'd you get 'em?" Kent might reply.

A photo of these two teammates/nemeses/alter egos hugging and crying in a champagne-soaked clubhouse might be worth more than Bonds' 73rd homer ball. Maybe we'll find out.

With his sixth-inning, two-run blast into the chilly marine air and over the left-field fence at Pacific Bell Park last night - and not to mention No. 2 in the bottom of the seventh - Kent propelled and ensured the Giants' 16-4 victory in Game 5 of this 98th World Series.

More important, he has officially followed an otherworldly powerful and efficient Barry Bonds to the doorstep of World Series nirvana.

Don't wake a sleeping Giant? That might be exactly what happened last night when Kent tagged two balls hard, both times to a place where no Anaheim Angel could catch them.

Finally, after so many line shots back to the pitcher or third base, so many grounders that did not get through the infield, he blasted away at his miserable .188 Series average.

The fog has lifted.

Most important, Kent added a muscular offensive dimension these Giants missed in the first four games of what had felt like a very Anaheim kind of series.

Last night, though, the tables turned. Out went that funky little thing called National League small ball as Kent and Co. finally unleashed the kind of offensive onslaught that should put a big scare into the Angels.

Kent, the free-agent-to-be, did not want what could be his final Pac Bell appearance to be anything less than stellar.

"This World Series is bigger and better than anything the free-agent market can be and anything I can do in the future," he said.

And now the Halos will rely on junk-ball "artist" Kevin Appier in Game 6? Whoa. That is not good at all.

Along with Kent's pair of two-run bombs, Bonds had an RBI on two doubles and a single, lifting his Series average to a whopping .500. Then there was the supporting crew. Benito Santiago came through with three RBIs and Kenny Lofton knocked out three hits, including a two-run triple in the seventh. Rich Aurilia couldn't help getting into the action, either, crunching a three-run exclamation point.

It was much more than enough to jump the Giants to a percussive 3-2 lead as this series heads back to Anaheim for Game 6 tomorrow.

If Bonds and Kent were the not-so-chummy headliners during last night's win, then the Angels may have to look back in anguish at what happened - or did not happen - in Game 4.

In retrospect, Anaheim third baseman Troy Glaus should have taken drastic measures. Didn't Glaus realize that the entire momentum of this World Series could turn on the play he wound up not making on Lofton's bunt single in the fateful fifth inning of Game 4?

In retrospect, as soon as Glaus saw Lofton's bunt rolling so precariously up the chalky third base line, Glaus should have dropped to his hands and knees, like any third baseman worth his salt. What Glaus should have done was huff and puff and blown that ball all the way to San Jose.

How many guys have we seen blowing great gusts of breath or fanning the air near the ball wildly with their glove and hand? Anything, anything to help that ball veer foul.

Glaus? He just stood and waited. He displayed a disposition that best suits a heavy-handed slugger, not a nimble infielder who would have done anything to make sure that ball was ruled foul.

Now look at what's happened. In this game that tends to glorify homers and power pitchers, he again helped prove the truth in that old adage: Baseball is a game of inches.

Think of it: Ever since Glaus missed picking up that ball in foul territory during the single nanosecond it had trickled out there, the Angels have seen the momentum completely shift.

After that ever-so-slightly foul ball eluded Glaus, the Giants went on to score three runs that fateful fifth inning to tie Game 4. Later, they won it, 4-3, by tagging rookie sensation Francisco Rodriguez for his first major-league loss. Their good luck charm was tarnished, their fate twisted - all after that fateful little non-play on Lofton's funky bunt.

Last night, the swing continued the Giants' way from the start. Almost everything that the Angels had been doing to the Giants, the Giants, instead, did to the Angels.

It was quite a dramatic shift to see the Giants, not the Angels, bat around in the first inning as they opened a 3-0 lead, working over shaky left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn.

The Giants did an excellent job of producing a copy-cat offense. The Angels were the team that had batted around three times so far in this Series. The Angels were the ones who had administered a relentless, pour-it-on brand of run-scoring. But last night, it was all Barry, Jeff and Co., as the winds of change blew in favor of the Giants.

But it wasn't so much that those winds changed when Kent unleashed his Bonds-like power last night. The winds of change started the night before, in Game 4, when that dribbler up the third-base line stayed fair and all bets were off for the Angels.

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