09/30/2003 8:42 PM ET
Fonzie comes up big in Game 1
SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in the Giants' 2-0 victory over the Marlins in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday, San Francisco manager Felipe Alou suspected that it would be a low-scoring affair, so in the fourth inning, he went back to the strategy he thought would be a Giants staple before the season started.
He played "small" ball, asking Edgardo Alfonzo to bunt.
"What I did different today [after Barry Bonds was issued the second of his three walks], I bunted my No. 5 guy, one of the best RBI guys I have the second half," said Alou. "For me, what was out there today was a one-run game."
It paid off, as Alfonzo's dribbler up the third-base line forced Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera to make a wild throw to first, allowing Rich Aurilia to score the game's first -- and, ultimately, game-winning -- run to score.
"It was a tough play for me," said Cabrera. "I played behind the base. He got a good bunt. The ball [sailed] inside the runner."
Although Alou had hoped that his team would be a running team this season, wreaking havoc with stolen bases, hit-and-run plays, bunts and the like, that didn't exactly pan out as scripted. The Giants ranked dead last in the National League with 53 stolen bases but were a respectable fifth with 76 sacrifice bunts.
When was the last time Alfonzo recalled getting a bunt hit?
"Today," he said with a laugh. "I used to hit a little more base-hit bunts, but I haven't done it in a while. If they need me to do that, I will do it. ... After I laid down the bunt, my next thing is run hard to first base, make something happen. That's what happened today."
Alfonzo had three sacrifice bunts this year and owns 47 in his career.
But after he took the first pitch from right-hander Josh Beckett for a ball in his fourth-inning at-bat, he looked down to third-base coach Gene Glynn and saw the bunt sign.
"I said [to myself], 'Well, you know, I think we have to play fundamental to win the game,'" said Alfonzo. "I mean, there are only nine guys on the team. They can do the job, too. If they're going to walk Barry, we still have eight guys to do the job. ... Thank God that I got that bunt down and made a little tough play for the third-base guy."
After eight big-league seasons with the Mets, Alfonzo started his Giants career ice-cold, and Alou's scheme of batting him behind Bonds didn't pan out until Alfonzo caught fire in the second half. He hasn't felt insulted by teams walking the slugger a Major League-high 148 times last year, 61 of those walks intentional -- more than all but two other National League teams besides the Giants.
"We're talking about Barry Bonds, you know, one of the best hitters in the game," said Alfonzo, whom Marlins manager Jack McKeon called "the lesser of two evils."
"I don't really care if they walk him or not," said Alfonzo.
Alfonzo brought home the Giants' second run in much more conventional fashion after Bonds was intentionally walked with two out and the bases empty in the eighth inning -- he lashed a double off the wall in left-center.
"I can do anything with [Alfonzo] -- bunt, hit and run, squeeze," said Alou. "The only thing that I got kind of disappointed about was that Barry Bonds didn't score in that [fourth] inning, but he finally did after the walk [in the eighth]. ... We really have been taking advantage of all those walks."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com