Giants' triumph is its own reward

Lee, Rangers can only imagine the feeling

November 02, 2010|By Phil Rogers

ARLINGTON, Texas — On the plus side, Rangers fans will not have to be quite as invested in Cliff Lee's upcoming free-agent winter.

And those who follow the Giants could not care less where he winds up.

They'll be numb for months from pinching themselves after their franchise's first World Series championship in 56 years, the first since Horace Stoneham moved his team from Upper Manhattan to San Francisco. The title that Barry Bonds couldn't deliver, Edgar Renteria could.

Isn't baseball the greatest game?

Renteria, a 34-year-old shortstop who had three home runs and 22 RBIs during the regular season, drove a 2-0 cut fastball from Lee into the bleachers in left-center field at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Monday night. His second go-ahead home run in four games broke up a 0-0 battle between Lee and Tim Lincecum, who were both at the top of their games.

The Giants rolled to a 3-1 victory, giving them the World Series four games to one. It is only the sixth championship in the history of the ancient franchise, which had been on the losing side in the Series 13 times, most recently when the Angels overcame a 3-2 deficit to win in 2002.

Thirteen years after he got the winning hit for the Marlins in Game 7 against the Indians, the unsung Renteria was named Most Valuable Player in the Series. He became the fourth player to drive in the winning run in two World Series, joining Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.

"This isn't his first rodeo," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's a big-time player."

Renteria has been talking about retirement, given how unlikely it is that the Giants will pick up his $10.5 million contract option for 2011, but now there may be a revolt if general manager Brian Sabean lets San Francisco's latest civic treasure walk.

"This group deserved it," Sabean said of a team manager Bruce Bochy characterized as castoffs and misfits. "It was fateful from the beginning, in spring training. It was a community effort."

Few picked the Giants when the playoffs began a month ago, but October baseball is largely about pitching and defense, and no team could touch them in those categories.

"Unbelievable how good they have been," Bochy said.

Texas entered the Series having averaged 5.4 runs in eliminating the Rays and Yankees but got only 12 runs total off the Giants. The Rangers came to the World Series with a confident group of hitters who had batted a playoffs-best .284 with runners in scoring position but against the Giants hit only .179 in those situations.

Lincecum and closer Brian Wilson didn't face a single hitter with a runner on second or third in Game 5, a night after rookie Madison Bumgarner had only one such situation. Only Nelson Cruz's home run kept the Rangers from being shut out for the third time.

In beating Lee for the second time, Lincecum earned his fourth playoff win. He worked eight innings, allowing only three hits and striking out 10.

Lee will be financially rewarded by the Yankees, Rangers or some other team this winter. But on the other side of the field, the gratification for Lincecum, Renteria and their teammates was immediate and certain to last a lifetime.

progers@tribune.com

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