Giants up 3-1, credit Cubs with wake-up call
BY CHRIS DE LUCA Sports Editor Nov 1, 2010
Edgar Renteria (right) is welcomed in the Giants dugout after scoring a seventh-inning run in Game 4.
Updated: November 28, 2010 4:50PM
ARLINGTON, Texas -- If you want to find where the San Francisco Giants insist their 2010 season changed for good, you have to go all the way back to Chicago.
Hard to imagine, but Wrigley Field actually played a part in the World Series. And you thought the 2003 Florida Marlins were the only team to use Wrigley as a springboard to the Series.
Turns out a spanking courtesy of the Cubs' Randy Wells, who shut out the Giants on Sept. 21 to briefly knock them out of first place, led to a season-turning team meeting the next day called by veterans Edgar Renteria and Mark DeRosa.
''When DeRo talks and when Edgar talks,'' Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand said, ''people listen.''
Next game, the Giants erupted for 13 runs and shut out the Cubs.
There were plenty of reminders about that breakthrough meeting before the Giants faced the Texas Rangers in Game 4 of the 106th World Series on Sunday night. The Giants again quieted the Rangers for a 4-0 victory, giving them a 3-1 edge in the Series. Tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Giants can win their first World Series since 1954, when they resided in New York.
Ask around the Giants' clubhouse, and those two late-September games in Chicago -- and that emotional meeting led by Renteria -- gave the Giants the wake-up call they needed during the regular season.
''Edgar's a special guy,'' DeRosa said. ''If you polled everybody in here, he pulled the team together in Chicago, kind of got emotional with us, and said that his career was closing down in a year or two and wanted another shot. And he felt like we had an opportunity to do something special, and he wanted to tell us that.
''As an offense, we called a team meeting, but he spoke, and his words, I think, resonated the loudest with the guys. He's a man of very few words. So for him to stand up and address the team and ask these guys to get him back to the postseason and get him another shot ... and then he starts playing shortstop like he's 20 again.''
Renteria, 35, looked like a kid again Sunday, getting three hits in his first three at-bats to pump life into the Giants' suspect offense.
The Giants jumped on Rangers starter Tommy Hunter early, putting him in jams in each of the first three innings. The damage came in the third, when Andres Torres hit a leadoff double and Aubrey Huff drilled a one-out, two-run homer.
The Giants are used to living with a slim edge, and that suited rookie starter Madison Bumgarner just fine. The 21-year-old held the Rangers' dangerous lineup to an infield single in the first five innings and kept them scoreless through eight innings, allowing just three hits.
And the left-hander got a key insurance run thanks to some hard work by Renteria in the seventh inning. Renteria hit a one-out single off reliever Darren Oliver. One out later, with Torres batting, Renteria ran on the pitch that was driven into the gap in left-center, scoring from first for a 3-0 Giants lead.
Rowand said Renteria's September speech rattled the cage of what is usually a loose clubhouse.
''There is not one guy in this clubhouse that doesn't have the utmost respect for Edgar -- in what he has done in his career, what kind of person he is, the kind of teammate he is,'' Rowand said. ''I consider myself very lucky to have gotten the chance to play with him. He's a true champion. And he's one of the best teammates I've ever had the luxury of playing with.''
Keep in mind, Rowand was one of the clubhouse leaders of the White Sox team that won the 2005 World Series. And he sees a lot of similarities between this Giants team and the Sox club he loved in '05.
''Yeah, with the fun in the clubhouse and all of the characters, and all of the laughing, there are a lot of similarities,'' Rowand said. ''It's a team, and guys care about each other. And that's what we had that was so special in Chicago, that when I look back on it, I'm most fond of. It was unbelievable. And to this day, when I look at my ring, that's what I think of -- that and the parade.
''We have a close-knit group of guys, and we have fun together and we pull for each other.''