Giants' fans believin' with Uribe providing needed clout
BY CHRIS DE LUCA Staff Reporter
Rangers ace Cliff Lee, who entered Wednesday's game with a 7-0 record, has to give up the ball with two outs in the fifth inning.
SAN FRANCISCO -- With fans decked out in black ''Don't Stop Believin''' sweatshirts and an October revival of Journey's song, it was worth a double-check of the GPS on Wednesday. Juan Uribe was here, so was Aaron Rowand, and there was an Ozzie Guillen sighting. Shoot, the opponent was from Texas.
A five-year reunion for the 2005 White Sox, this was not. It was Game 1 of the 106th World Series, and a new town has adopted that South Side anthem.
The San Francisco Giants and their fans are still believin' today after doing the unthinkable by chasing October ace Cliff Lee early en route to an 11-7 victory against the Texas Rangers at AT&T Park.
When Uribe punctuated the night with his booming three-run homer to give the Giants a six-run cushion in the fifth inning, the crowd of 43,601 erupted into chants of ''EW-REE-BAY, EW-REE-BAY'' -- the loudest Uribe says he has ever heard.
Whether it was belting the tiebreaking home run in the National League Championship Series clincher or delivering the knock-out punch in Game 1 of the World Series, the White Sox castoff and misfit is becoming one of the Giants' clutch hitters and defenders. And it's a postseason confidence Uribe, who made a dazzling play for the final out in his previous trip to the World Series, says he learned plenty in 2005 with the White Sox.
''The main thing to understand is to have that confidence that you can approach every game like [a regular-season] one,'' Uribe said through an interpreter after Game1. ''Just because it's a postseason game doesn't mean you have to treat this any differently than any other game. You don't want to add that extra pressure.''
So there was Uribe, the class clown of the White Sox clubhouse, stepping out before this World Series to give his team a pep talk in facing Lee.
''I told the guys that we can beat this pitcher just like any other pitcher,'' said Uribe, whose 24 home runs and 85 RBI were second on the team to offensive leader Aubrey Huff (26 homers, 86 RBI). ''We have faith in our hitting.
''I approach Cliff Lee like I approach every other pitcher. I respect him for who he is and what he's accomplished, but I take Cliff Lee just like every other pitcher I face.''
The Giants -- knocked for their lack of hitting all season -- erupted against Lee, who was chased with two outs in the fifth inning after entering with a 7-0 postseason record.
This never lived up to the billing of a pitchers' duel between Lee and Giants starter Tim Lincecum, who was wobbly early, allowing a run in each of the first two innings.
Game 1 was tied at 2 when the Giants rallied for six runs in the fifth. Andres Torres started the rally with a one-out double that was followed by Freddy Sanchez's tiebreaking double. Suddenly, Lee looked vulnerable. The Giants kept plugging away until Uribe's three-run blast to left off reliever Darren O'Day.
''More than anything, it just goes to show you: Great pitchers, sometimes they're a little bit off,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''Hopefully, when they are, you take advantage of mistakes, and we did it tonight.''
Uribe, who has supplied more than his share of key hits throughout the playoffs for the Giants, has found a new home in San Francisco, where he signed a minor-league contract before the 2009 season after the Sox didn't see a fit for him in their infield.
''He's one of the guys that is always keeping us loose,'' Giants closer Brian Wilson said. ''He's a character.''
The 31-year-old's career is hardly on life support.
''It's hard to compare teams, and I'm never going to say anything bad or anything that will be interpreted as bad against Chicago because they treated me really well,'' Uribe said. ''They gave me love in Chicago. They gave me confidence. That organization will always be special to me. It's the same situation here in San Francisco.''
Now, his new teammates say they expect Uribe to step up in big situations. So far this postseason, he hasn't disappointed,
''I don't have the pressure to feel like I have to win it every time,'' Uribe said. ''We got here because every guy has stepped up during an opportune time. We just have to stick together and believe in each other.''
Sounds a lot like the '05 Sox.