10/22/10 1:09 AM ET
Torres provides early spark before Giants fall
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
After an NL Division Series in which he struggled to do that, and a couple of more games in the NLCS when he didn't do it, either, Torres found himself with a couple of days out of the starting lineup to figure it out.
Back at the top of the lineup card Thursday, he got it right in the first inning and throughout Game 5, although it wound up being in a losing cause as the Giants lost, 4-2, and headed to Philadelphia with a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series.
In terms of getting on track as the type of leadoff hitter the Giants need to scratch out some runs against the tough Phillies pitching staff, it was one mission accomplished for Torres.
"Everybody told me I need to calm down, because before I was kind of trying to jump and hit everything," Torres said. "You can't go there, especially me. I'm a leadoff hitter so I need to get on and make them work."
That he did Thursday night, and he set the tone for a more patient approach for a Giants lineup that squeezed 108 pitches out of Phillies ace Roy Halladay in just six innings.
"I thought we had some good at-bats," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We hit some balls decent, too, and couldn't find some holes. But I thought we worked him pretty good."
And that all started with Torres in the first inning.
Working Halladay into a full-count walk to start the home half of the first was about as well as Torres could have scripted it. Torres gave the Giants the early 1-0 lead three batters later on the type of manufactured run the Giants have hungered for much of the season.
Torres, who was supplanted in the leadoff role by shortstop Edgar Renteria for two games until returning there Thursday, advanced to third base on a hit-and-run single to center by No. 2 hitter Freddy Sanchez. And with a 2-0 count on third hitter Aubrey Huff, Halladay got a visit from pitching coach Rich Dubee, bringing the crowd at AT&T Park to its feet, sensing the Phillies ace was in trouble. But Huff lined out to a diving Ryan Howard at first.
Torres then scored on a grounder off the bat of Buster Posey that second baseman Chase Utley hoped to turn into an inning-ending double play, but he didn't glove the ball cleanly and had to settle for a forceout of Sanchez, who had stopped to avoid a possible tag by Utley.
Halladay got out of the threat when he caught Pat Burrell looking at a called third strike -- one of several missed opportunities for the Giants on the night.
But Torres didn't stop doing the job he knows he needs to do in order for the Giants' offense to score enough to win.
He also worked a full count in the third inning against Halladay, reaching on an infield single off Howard's glove, and then reached on a Howard error in the fifth. He made it four appearances on base with a seventh-inning single, going 2-for-3 with a run scored -- a good line for any leadoff hitter.
For Torres, it was a simple matter of taking a step back and getting back to basics.
"I was trying to calm myself down and just be patient," Torres said. "Before, I was trying to jump and I wasn't seeing the ball. I just tried to see the ball and just tried to get a good pitch to hit, work the count."
Now he has to take that same game plan with him to Philadelphia, where he'll presumably be back in the leadoff spot, so his first at-bat against Roy Oswalt to begin Game 6 could set the tone.
Having gotten back on track after coming out of the postseason gates a bit jumpy, Torres is feeling more able to live up to his job description.
"Especially when you're in the playoffs, everything's going so quick and you've got to make adjustments," Torres said. "It's tough, but you have to see the ball. If you don't see the ball, you're not going to hit it."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.