10/01/2003 3:55 PM ET
Ponson disappointed, but upbeat
SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants swapped three pitchers for Sidney Ponson at the trading deadline, they envisioned him serving as the back end of a 1-2 punch with Jason Schmidt in the postseason.
But Ponson's performance in Wednesday's 9-5 loss to the Marlins stood in sharp contrast to Schmidt's dominating three-hit shutout in Game 1. Whereas Schmidt baffled the Florida hitters, Ponson saw them put the ball in play and, more often than not, get on base as a result.
Still, the right-hander, who was his own worst critic after poor outings during the regular season, felt good about his five-inning start, in which he surrendered four runs on seven hits.
"I didn't get hit hard today at all," said Ponson, who went 3-6 for the Giants with a 3.71 ERA after tallying a 14-6 mark with the Orioles. "I think I made quality pitches, and those dribblers found holes."
Ponson started the game by giving up a pair of singles to Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo, and he admitted he was a little excited in making his postseason debut. He said he threw the ball too hard, putting it right down the middle for the hits.
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
A wild pitch moved up the runners, and that led to one run scoring on a Derrek Lee groundout. But Ponson got out of the inning with no further damage and proceeded to toss three perfect innings.
"Right away, in the first inning, the two guys that didn't get on yesterday, they got on, both guys," said manager Felipe Alou, who thought Ponson might have been a little rusty from the extended layoff since his last start, on Sept. 24.
"He got out of that very well, with one run scored," said Alou. "Then he went out [with], what, three innings. Real good innings. We gave him a lead, then they came back."
That comeback was in the fateful fifth, after the Giants had taken a 4-1 lead. Jeff Conine chopped a hit up the middle, and pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth got a hit off a 2-0 pitch. Pierre singled in a run, and Castillo's groundout brought home another. Ivan Rodriguez then tied the game with another single.
"I threw two good pitches outside [to Hollandsworth], the umpire called ball," said Ponson. "It was a little bit inconsistent today, I thought, but I'm not making any excuses. ... Everything I threw in that fifth inning seemed to find a hole. [The Giants] got three runs, and I went right back out there and gave up three runs, and that puts everybody's morale down."
Ponson got the final out but was then lifted for a pinch-hitter in the next inning, ending his maiden voyage into the postseason.
"I pitched five innings -- that's not good," said Ponson, who would have liked to have gone back out for another inning after throwing only 70 pitches. "You're not supposed to win games pitching only five innings, so that's disappointing."
If Ponson is to get a chance to redeem himself, the Giants will need to win two of their next three games and advance to the NLCS. He'll be eager to prove that with a little better luck, he can be a solid No. 2 guy behind Schmidt.
"I didn't make a couple of good pitches. They found holes. It's part of the game," said Ponson. "I'm disappointed we lost the game, of course, but I'm not disappointed in the way I threw the ball."
And neither was his catcher, Benito Santiago, who also hopes that Ponson will be able to make another start this postseason.
"He threw the ball good," said Santiago. "He just got some hits that found the gap, and in the holes [went] a couple of ground balls that we needed for a double play, and they got the base hit. Hopefully, next time, he'll do better than that."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.