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Aurilia Got Quick Look at Rodriguez

October 22, 2002|Mike DiGiovanna

SAN FRANCISCO — When shortstop Rich Aurilia stepped to the plate against Angel reliever Francisco Rodriguez to start the sixth inning Sunday night, his thoughts were on a scouting report provided by teammate Jeff Kent, who said Rodriguez sometimes has trouble with his control.

"Well, I was the first guy to face him, so I thought I'd take the first pitch to see what was going on," Aurilia said. "The next thing I know, 21 seconds passed, and I'm walking back the dugout after looking at three pitches. If that was the book on him, he had an off night."

Rodriguez, the 20-year-old phenom with the 95-mph fastball and nasty slider, was dominant in Game 2, retiring nine straight batters, four on strikeouts, to gain the win. Of his 26 pitches, 22 were strikes.

The Giants may have derived one benefit from their futile effort against Rodriguez, though -- at least now they'll know what to expect when they face him again.

"A lot of it is seeing a guy's release point, knowing what they throw," first baseman J.T. Snow said. "When you haven't faced a guy all year, the advantage goes to the pitcher. Now that we've seen his fastball and slider, it won't make it any easier next time, but the only way you get better at things is seeing them more and more. Hopefully, we'll get the lead so we don't have to face him."


Livan Hernandez, the Giants' right-hander who will start Game 3 tonight, is 69-69 with a 4.42 earned-run average in 180 regular season starts, but he is 6-0 with a 2.84 ERA in eight playoff appearances, winning most valuable player honors with the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series and National League championship series.

"When you're from Cuba and you have to pitch to survive and feed your family, then you're going to have a tendency to be good in big games," Manager Dusty Baker said. "In Cuba, where he came from, during the Pan Am Games and international competitions, it's about survival, basically.

"I think part of it is because he knows how to relax. The guys that know how to relax the best but still concentrate with that fire inside of them are usually the guys that do the best."

Aurilia feels the shifting of the World Series to Pacific Bell Park favors his team.

"We gain the use of our pitchers in the lineup," he said, "and our pitchers are used to hitting.

"And they lose the DH and they have a pretty good one in Brad Fullmer."

During the regular season, Giant pitchers hit .181 with two home runs and 23 RBIs, hardly numbers that cause opposing pitchers to shudder.

But Giant pitchers were successful moving a runner over on a sacrifice bunt 45 times, a skill Angel pitchers don't get a chance to perfect in game conditions.

Aurilia also figures the scoring has to come down in Pac Bell Park.

"You won't have a night like you had [in Game 2, won by the Angels 11-10] in this park," he said. "The ball doesn't carry that well here in cold weather. You won't see 21 runs scored unless there are 50 to 60 singles."


A day after saying he was through talking to the media about the future of his manager, guess what Giant managing general partner Peter Magowan was talking about?

That's right, the future of his manager.

"When we went to spring training, there were certain things we wanted to see out of Dusty and we've seen them," said Magowan, "It should only take a few days to figure it out when this is over."

And that's the last time Magowan is discussing the subject. At least until the next person asks.

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