Schmidt, Giants get off to fast start against Marlins

Ace throws 3-hit gem in 2-0 win

Bonds' walks play hand in both runs

Baseball

October 01, 2003|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO -Right-hander Jason Schmidt has done it all this year for the San Francisco Giants. He won 17 games and led the National League with a 2.34 ERA and likely will get the Cy Young Award for his trouble.

The encore was even better.

Schmidt pitched one of the most impressive games in Division Series history yesterday, shutting out the Florida Marlins on three hits for a 2-0 victory in Game 1 at Pacific Bell Park.

The largest crowd (43,704) in the four-year history of the scenic waterfront stadium waved orange towels and cheered every pitch as Schmidt dominated the Marlins. He struck out five and did not walk a batter on the way to his third postseason victory in four career decisions.

"Schmidt dominated for nine innings," said Giants manager Felipe Alou. "We always protected him. There was no way we would have pitched him for nine innings during the regular season, so he was healthy enough to go out and pitch a complete game with more than 100 pitches.

"That means if we need a fifth game, he's our guy."

Florida pitcher Josh Beckett wasn't bad either, but an error and an aura conspired to make him a loser in spite of an overpowering seven-inning performance.

The Marlins were determined not to allow Giants superstar Barry Bonds to beat them, choosing to pitch around him or intentionally walk him in three of his four plate appearances. So Bonds took his walks and ended up playing a passive - but major - role in both scoring innings.

The Giants took the lead after Beckett walked Rich Aurilia to lead off the fourth and then refused to challenge Bonds on a full-count pitch. No. 5 hitter Edgardo Alfonzo followed with a perfect bunt and third baseman Miguel Cabrera threw the ball down the right-field line to allow Aurilia to score.

That probably would have sufficed with Schmidt in total control, but a two-out intentional walk to Bonds in the eighth put Alfonzo back at the plate with a chance to be even more pro-active. He responded with a double off the center-field fence to give Schmidt a little extra breathing room in the ninth.

It isn't often that the fifth-place hitter is asked to bunt, but Alou could see where this game was going.

"I thought it was going to be a one-run game," he said. "I can do anything with him - bunt, hit and run, squeeze. The only thing that I got kind of disappointed was that Barry Bonds didn't score in that inning. But he did after the walk. That's sort of what we were talking about earlier, that we have been really taking advantage of those walks."

Marlins manager Jack McKeon didn't apologize for ordering reliever Chad Fox to walk Bonds intentionally with no one on and two outs in the eighth.

"If I had let him pitch to him and he hits one into McCovey Cove, then you're in here asking me why I didn't do what I said I was going to do," McKeon said. "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Which medicine do you want to take? I think you'd rather pitch to the guy hitting .259."

Alfonzo has been cast in the role that veteran catcher Benito Santiago played so well last October.

"Like Benito told me, `Last year was fun because I had a lot of opportunities to get RBIs and stuff like that. Now you're a little more patient guy at the plate, I think you're really going to enjoy it,' " Alfonzo said.

Alou waited until after the game to announce that former Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson would be the starter today.

Ponson will face Brad Penny and Rueter will pitch Game 3 at Pro Player Stadium, but Ponson said he would have been fine with pitching in either game. The game plan would not have changed.

"I'm going to keep the ball down in the zone, change speeds and try to read the hitters," he said. "I think Benito is going to catch these games, and he knows the hitters.

"It all depends on how I feel coming out of the bullpen. I might be feeling good. I might be feeling bad. I might be so-so. I'm not going to change. I'm going to pitch my game and make adjustments inning by inning."

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