Game 4 wrapup: Marlins 7, Giants 6
MIAMI -- The Giants would wing home to San Francisco, perhaps falling asleep en route, then waking up to pinch themselves, hoping against hope that losing to the Florida Marlins, 7-6, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Saturday was a nightmare, a bad dream.
With the Marlins the bogeymen.
But it was -- painfully and regrettably -- all too real, as the young, nothing-to-lose Floridians, playing loose and free and happy and well, shockingly dumped the defending NL champs in the best-of-five series, 3-1, and sent them back to the Bay Area and into the offseason.
A 100-victory season was something to be cheered and cherished. The Giants destruction of their NL West foes with ease and power and pitching and defense was also a memorable feat.
But this veteran club, loaded with offensive talent and driven by Barry Bonds' homers and a brilliant bullpen, would not succeed in its mission of returning to the World Series, and that is what will stick in the players' craw during the cold winter months.
"To me it's failure," said a grim-faced Rich Aurilia. "We have a lot of things to be proud of, but at the same time, we knew we could get back to where we were last year. But the bottom line is we're going home losers ... and they're going on.
"It's a little kid's dream, going to the World Series," added the 32-year-old veteran. "Anybody who disagrees with me, they're lying. Not getting there is a disappointment. We fought back but fell a couple of inches short. There's not much else to say. It's over."
The one memory that will linger is watching J.T. Snow running as hard and as determined as ever in a footrace with Jeff Conine's hard throw from left field to home plate in the top of the ninth trying to tie the game 7-7.
It seems almost in slow motion now, with Snow's chest and arms reaching and diving for the white pentagon, his face grimacing, dirt flying everywhere, a crowd of 65,464 screaming, the ball getting here a split second before, and Pudge Rodriguez trying for the tag.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Saturday represented the first time in history that a postseason series ended with the tying run being thrown out at the plate.
The Giants will rerun that play a million times on video machines and in their minds, but the result will forever be the same: out.
| The kid glove treatment|
|There have been six previous postseason games in which both starters were rookies. All previous matchups were in the World Series, and the home team won them all.|
|Oct. 8, 1948
||WS Game 3, at Boston
||CLE 2, BOS 0
|Oct. 7, 1950
||WS Game 4, at New York
||NYY 5, PHI 2
||Bob J. Miller|
|Oct. 11, 1967
||WS Game 6, at Boston
||BOS 8, STL 4
|Oct. 23, 1981
||WS Game 3, at Los Angeles
||LA 5, NYY 4
|Oct. 12, 1983
||WS Game 2, at Baltimore
||BAL 4, PHI 1
||Charles L. Hudson|
|Oct. 22, 1997
||WS Game 4, at Cleveland
||CLE 10, FLA 3
|Oct. 4, 2003
||DS Game 4, at Florida
||FLA 7, SF 6
-- Source: Elias sports bureau
After Neifi Perez had doubled to start the inning, Snow drove him home to make it 7-6 Marlins, then Jeffrey Hammonds would single to left. This was it. Snow either makes it or doesn't with the game on the line.
"I knew it was going to be close, and [left fielder Jeff] Conine gave it all he had," said Hammonds. "My hand was in the air, like, 'C'mon, baby, let's go, score this run.' J.T. gave it all he had, but they made the play and we didn't."
Still, said Hammonds, the Giants would not hang their heads. The 2003 season was still a beautiful thing to see, the drama of one-run victories, the booming homers of Bonds, the winning streaks, the team's relentlessness.
"I joined this team and saw the character they had," he said. "We battled today and battled hard, but they beat us. We didn't roll over. Bottom line, they played well and they beat us the last three games."
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba's thoughts will dwell for a while on the fateful eighth inning, when the Marlins scored twice to take a 7-5 lead.
With two outs, Rodriguez singled, and Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch.
Then Miguel Cabrera's two-on, two-out single scored Rodriguez. The throw home from right fielder Jose Cruz Jr. was knocked from Torrealba's hands, allowing Lee to score and putting the Marlins in front by two.
"I never had the ball in my glove, then I got bumped by Pudge and don't know where the ball went," said Torrealba of the critical play. "The crowd was noisy, and I couldn't hear my teammates yelling where the ball was. But that's baseball -- there's not anything we could have done about that."
The losing pitcher was Felix Rodriguez, who credited the Marlins with solid play and praised Pudge, who hit .353 in the series with six RBIs.
"It was a tough play at home, but you have to give credit to them -- they played well to the end, and Rodriguez was unbelievable."
Giants senior vice president and general manager Brian Sabean is not the daydreaming type, not one swayed by emotions. He helped build this team, man by man, and he brought his own schematic of the final game and the NLDS.
"I'm a pragmatist," he said. "I knew we had our hands full when they played these guys. It's a short series -- it's really a crapshoot -- and we didn't take care of business. [The Marlins] had a lot more luck and magic than we did, but you make your own luck and magic."
He noted that Conine and Rodriguez seemed to be everywhere this series, involved in every critical play, while the Giants featured the sensational, head-in-the-game play of Edgardo Alfonzo and ... well ...
Bonds, for one, didn't have any magic, and that was the Marlins' intent. He was walked eight times, six intentionally. He hit .222 with a double and two RBIs in the series.
The slugger needs only two homers to catch Willie Mays' mark of 660, and will do so early next season. He faded out without much pizzazz in the NLDS, but he still had a sensational season, with 45 homers, 90 RBIs, a .340 batting average and a monster .749 slugging percentage.
All this despite the torment of losing his father, Bobby Bonds, to cancer.
After Saturday's game, Bonds dressed slowly while the media tried to pry a few words from him. "I got nothing to talk about," he said. "See y'all in Spring Training."
Then the future Hall of Famer took a necklace that has a picture of his father on it. "I'm gonna give my daddy a kiss," he said.
Alfonzo had an astounding NLDS, hitting .529 with nine hits, five RBIs and four doubles. A veritable hitting machine. But, alas, all for naught.
"It was definitely a positive feeling," said the third baseman of his postseason heroics, "but we didn't win, so it also feels bad. But we had a great playoff -- it went back and forth -- and we had a real fight to the end."
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.