10/03/2003 9:38 PM ET
Giants' bullpen stands tough
MIAMI -- Tim Worrell may have been tagged with the loss in the Giants' 4-3 defeat to the Marlins in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Friday, but that was one of the few black marks on an otherwise redemptive outing for the Giants' bullpen.
In Wednesday's Game 2, the relief staff -- a strength for the team all year -- took over for Sidney Ponson in the sixth and blew a one-run lead, giving up five runs (three earned). Worrell and Matt Herges were the only relievers to escape without having either a run charged to their record or allowing an inherited runner to score.
Friday, after left-hander Kirk Rueter pitched five innings and departed with the score tied, the bullpen pitched 5 2/3 shutout frames, with Worrell in line for the victory after the Giants scored in the top of the 11th.
"I definitely think, on the whole, everybody did their job today, but it's a tough loss," said Herges, who struck out four and allowed a hit and a walk in 1 2/3 scoreless innings before turning the ball over to Scott Eyre for the final out of the seventh.
"So anything you feel good about yourself, that'd be pretty selfish," he added. "That's something to maybe think about in the offseason. ... We'll slap high-fives this winter or next Spring Training, but we've gotta [win] tomorrow."
In Wednesday's game, after the Marlins had taken a 7-5 lead in the sixth and had men on second and third with one out, Herges induced a flyout that turned into an inning-ending double play. In the sixth inning on Friday, he gave up a double to Juan Encarnacion, who then stole third, before striking out Mike Lowell and Jeff Conine to end the inning.
Joe Nathan, who suffered the most damage on Wednesday (three runs on four hits in one-third of an inning), walked the only batter he faced before Felix Rodriguez got two fielder's-choice groundouts. One came on his own nice play, grabbing an Ivan Rodriguez bunt attempt and firing to second to erase the lead runner.
The right-hander then struck out Encarnacion in animated fashion to end the inning. He allowed one hit in the ninth while striking out the side.
"We've gotten to where we're at because we've picked each other up as a team," said Worrell. "The pitching picks up the hitting, the hitting picks up the pitching.
"[The bullpen] did great. Everyone did great," he added. "Honestly, if you want to look at it, it was a pretty damn good game."
Worrell, who pitched a perfect ninth on Wednesday, on Friday loaded the bases in the 10th on two singles and a walk before getting pinch-hitter Lenny Harris to hit a foul popout. He nearly escaped another bases-loaded jam -- started in part by Jose Cruz Jr.'s fielding error to start the 11th -- but Ivan Rodriguez ripped a two-run single the opposite way to win the game.
"He's the best I've seen," said Herges about Worrell. "He's got the best mentality of any closer I've ever known. And I came up in the big leagues, my first two years, with Jeff Shaw, and they're similar. Very cerebral.
"He's cool as a cucumber," added Herges. "You can just tell by watching his body language. Bases loaded or nobody on, he's the same guy, and that's impressive."
The bullpen finished second in the National League this year, with 33 wins, and was third in the league, with a 3.47 ERA. Over their last 83 outings in the regular season, San Francisco relievers went 19-5, with a 3.05 ERA.
According to Herges, success as a reliever comes down to putting bad outings behind you, something Worrell may need to do on Saturday if called upon in the Giants' do-or-die game against the Marlins.
"The key to any reliever is having short-term memory," he said. "You have to. If you don't, then a bad outing can run into two, three, four, five bad outings in a row, and you can't do that, obviously, or you won't find yourself pitching.
"Short-term memory is one thing that I learned. I was told that you have to have short-term memory, and it totally rings true. That's probably one of the biggest keys to it, especially in the closer role. You have to have short-term memory."
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