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Giants get power from unexpected source
If this is Edgar Renteria’s baseball farewell, he is making it memorable.
In Renteria’s postseason debut — back in 1997 — he etched his name in World Series history, delivering the walk-off single that lifted the Florida Marlins to an 11-inning, Game 7 victory against the Cleveland Indians.
And 13 years later, in a season riddled with injuries that left him talking about retirement in the final days of the regular season, Renteria showed he still has that flair for the dramatic.
OK, it was only Game 2 of the San Francisco-Texas World Series at AT&T Park on Thursday night, not a winner-take-all Game 7.
The Giants wound up with a 9-0 blowout, giving them a 2-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series that will resume Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.
Don’t, however, let the score mislead you. This was a pitchers’ battle between Giants right-hander Matt Cain and Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson, skewed by another Rangers’ bullpen implosion, which resulted in a seven-run, 11-batter, four-walk, Giants' eighth-inning that included a two-run Renteria single.
And it was Renteria who delivered the home run off Wilson with one out in the bottom of the fifth that provided the only run of the first six innings.
The Giants nursed a 2-0 lead before the eighth-inning onslaught that included Rangers reliever Derek Holland throwing only 13 pitches in walking all three batters he faced to set the debacle in motion.
Will Clark, the former Giants All-Star turned special consultant, smiled at the mention of Renteria’s contributions from the No. 8 spot in the lineup, and remembered a pregame chat he and Renteria had.
"You’ve been here before," Clark said he told Renteria.
"I know," Renteria replied.
"The spotlight is there," Clark said. "Go out and enjoy it."
And for all the emotions that ran through Renteria with that walk-off single off Indians’ right-hander Charles Nagy in Florida in 1997, none were as satisfying as the feeling of accomplishment Renteria felt for his role as the catalyst against the Rangers.
In 1997, after all, he was a 20-year-old rising star, signed by the Marlins out of his native Colombia at the age of 16 for $16,000, enjoying the second year of his big-league career and oblivious to the possibility that age would eventually catch up with him.
Today? He is 33, battling to hang on, playing with his fifth team in seven years and riddled with a series of injuries that limited him to 72 regular-season games and left him in the role of extra man during the Giants’ stretch run to the postseason.
"He lost his job to Juan (Uribe)," said Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens. "He only got to play because (Pablo) Sandoval has been struggling. … But he’s a guy who wants to be in the big situations and he’s done the job before."
Renteria shrugged and smiled at the mention of Meulens’ praise.
"Florida was a long time ago," he said. "You like to be in the situations. You want to help your team, but it doesn’t always happen."
As the Mary Chapin Carpenter song explains, "Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug."
Renteria’s been both.
He is one of three players to be the final hitter in two World Series. Boss Schmidt of Detroit made the final outs in both the 1907 and 1908 World Series. Goose Goslin struck out to end the 1925 World Series and had the Series-ending RBI single in 1935.
Renteria was the windshield with that walk-off for Florida in 1997, and he was the bug with St. Louis when he grounded out to end the 2004 World Series, allowing Boston to lift the Curse of the Bambino.
"And now that I'm a veteran," he said, "… now you have to win because I don't know where I'm going to be tomorrow."
Well, he knows Saturday he will be in Texas, trying to help the Giants secure the two more victories they need to claim the franchise’s first world championship since 1954, when the team was still based in the Polo Grounds in New York, 22 years before Renteria was born.
But next spring?
"I don’t know," he said.
What he and the Giants know, however, is that right now is the right time for Renteria.
"I couldn’t be happier for Edgar," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "It’s been a tough year for him. The ups and downs. The injuries. He’d come back and reinjure something else.
"He’s a leader in the clubhouse. He’s been through this, and he’s excited about how he feels right now. I’ll say this, I think the rest probably benefitted him. He’s playing like he did 10 years ago."
Limited to two at-bats in the four games of the Giants NL Division Series against Atlanta, and given starts in four of the six games of the NLCS against Philadelphia, Renteria was in the lineup in each of the first two World Series Games. He was 1-for-3 and hit by a pitch, scoring two runs in Game 1, and then went 2-for-4 with the home run and a two-run single in that seven-run eighth in Game 2.
"This summer has been real tough for me," he admitted. "There have been a lot of injuries. When I came back, I just wanted to be ready for my teammates. I wanted to be ready if something like this was going to happen.
"I don’t know where I am going to be next year so I feel I need to enjoy this as much as I can."
So far, so good.
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