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World Series

It's a Giant Task They Face Today

Confidence in team's ability to come back in deciding game is San Francisco clubhouse theme.

October 27, 2002|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

The San Francisco Giants have been a resilient bunch through many twists and turns this championship season.

The Giants especially enjoy recounting their accomplishments, believing they can overcome any obstacle. And that's good, because the Giants need one another more than ever now.

They're pulling together for one last game in the World Series, which the Angels forced Saturday night by rallying for a 6-5 victory in Game 6 before a delirious crowd of 44,506 at Edison Field.

Trailing, 5-0, in the seventh, the Angels overcame the largest World Series deficit of a club facing elimination. They pounded the usually rock-solid San Francisco bullpen after Russ Ortiz worked 6 1/3 strong innings, scoring three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to force a decisive Game 7.

Only six outs away from celebrating their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco, the Giants saw their similarly resilient opponents strike back again. One way or another, the wild show ends tonight, and it's the Giants' turn to try to rebound with the baseball's biggest prize still up for grabs.

Although the mood in the clubhouse was somber, the Giants continued to preach their theme.

"You always hope those types of things don't happen, but we're the Giants and we can deal with it," second baseman Jeff Kent said. "Even up, 5-0, we still knew we needed to close the ballgame. We knew it wasn't [over] by any means. We put four of our best pitchers out there; they scored six runs in the last two innings and won.

"Five runs wasn't a sizable lead that we knew we could hold, and we proved it because we couldn't hold it. We're just going to deal with it and go on. This is a team that's resilient. This is a veteran ballclub that doesn't get emotionally attached to losses. There's nothing to bounce back from. This is what we do."

Well, not exactly.

The Giants held off the Dodgers for the National League wild-card berth, outlasted the Atlanta Braves in the division series and completed an improbable pennant run against the St. Louis Cardinals, deftly handling ongoing speculation about the futures of General Manager Brian Sabean and Manager Dusty Baker along the way. But the Giants acknowledged the Angels are unlike any challenge they've experienced.

It's like looking into a mirror.

"It's been an amazing series because both teams never give up," said Ortiz, showing his bounce-back ability after working only 1 2/3 innings in Game 2. "It's been back and forth, and the Angels are doing an amazing job of hitting the ball.

"Obviously, it's disappointing when you lose a game like this, but if you start to think negative thoughts you're going to hang your head. We don't do that."

The Giant bullpen was second to the Atlanta Braves in the NL, so these guys aren't accustomed to squandering late-inning leads. Of course, they Angels aren't cooperating with their plan.

"It's kind of rare that we would all struggle at the same time," said setup man Tim Worrell (1-1), who gave up three hits and three runs in one-third of an inning.

"You don't get where we are without confidence, and we thought we could shut the door on them tonight."

But the Giants didn't, providing another opportunity for them to close the season on a resilient note.

"We'll go on and play Game 7, and it'll be a heck of a game for a lot of people," Kent said. "We're going to just do what we do. If we needed to do something different, we would have done it a long time ago."

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