MVP Renteria saves biggest moments for Series
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – As he sat through the first five games of the playoffs last month, mostly as a spectator, Edgar Renteria just wanted a chance.
He not only got it, he seized it.
Now, he’s put his name alongside Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra as the only players with two World Series-winning hits.
“It’s unbelievable. That’s life,” Renteria said with joy and exhaustion in his voice after his three-run homer in the seventh inning Monday night sent the Giants to their first World Series title since 1954.
Wearing a gray, orange and white World Series champion T-shirt and a stiff new cap backwards on his head – World Series trophy facing forward – Renteria beamed after he was picked as a unanimous World Series MVP.
After getting the hit that won the 1997 title for Florida and making the final out for St. Louis in Boston’s 2004 win, he stunned the Texas Rangers and their fans with his drive off Cliff Lee, unexpected pop from the No. 8 spot in the batting order that propelled San Francisco to a 3-1 victory and its first title since leaving the Polo Grounds after the 1957 season – 18 years before he was born.
A five-time All-Star who has declined dramatically the past three seasons, Renteria hit .412 (7 for 17) with six RBIs in the Series. He had all of three homers and 22 RBIs during an injury-filled regular season that landed the shortstop on the disabled list three times and prompted him to openly ponder retirement.
In three World Series appearances, he has compiled statistics anyone would be proud of: a .333 average (21 for 63) with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs.
“Maybe I am more in focus. I know it’s a different game because if you make a mistake you’re going to pay,” he said. “That’s why my focus is different, my level is different, and just want to be the guy to do something.”
An hour after the game, orange-and-black-clad Giants fans stood behind the third-base dugout at Rangers Ballpark chanting “Don’t Retire!” as Renteria conducted interviews.
“It was a tough year for me,” he said. “I told myself to keep working hard and keep in shape because something is going to be good this year.”
Now 34, Renteria made three trips to the disabled list this season because of a strained right groin (May 6-22 and May 25-June 16) and a strained left biceps (Aug. 11-Sept. 1). His 72 games were the fewest of his big league career.
“The word I got, he was slow at shortstop,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He looked like the young Renteria that I seen when he first came over.”
Renteria is used to the big stage – he is one of only two players to get a World Series-ending hit and hit into a World Series-ending out, according to STATS LLC. The other was Goose Goslin, who struck out for Washington against Pittsburgh in 1925, then singled for Detroit against the Chicago Cubs in 1935.
In 1997, Renteria’s 11th-inning single up the middle off Cleveland’s Charles Nagy won the title for the Florida Marlins, only the fourth Game 7 in World Series history to stretch into extra innings.
Seven years later, his comebacker to Keith Foulke finished Boston’s four-game sweep of St. Louis and gave the Red Sox their first title since 1918. He was the one who hit the ball that Doug Mientkiewicz made famous.
The two-time Gold Glove winner returned to the World Series this year with his sixth major league team in 15 seasons.
He didn’t start in the division series against Atlanta but was inserted into the lineup in Game 2 of the NL championship series at Philadelphia. Renteria started 10 of the Giants’ final 11 games, with Juan Uribe shifting from shortstop to third.
“Well, Edgar has been through it, and I wanted a leader out there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I know how bad Edgar wanted it. It wasn’t too long ago we had a little talk, and he said, ‘I just want to go out and win another World Series.’ And I couldn’t be prouder for him.”
Renteria hit a go-ahead homer off C.J. Wilson in the fifth inning of Game 2, then singled in two runs in the eighth. He added three hits in Game 4, helping the Giants to a 4-0 win and a 3-1 Series lead.
Then in Game 5, with Lee dominating the Giants, Cody Ross and Uribe started the seventh with consecutive singles up the middle, and Aubrey Huff sacrificed for the first time in his 11-season big league career.
Renteria told teammate Andres Torres, who was on double deck, that he would hit one out.
“I was joking,” Renteria said later. “But it went out.”
With first-base open, Lee got behind 2-0. The next pitch was a cutter that stayed up and over the plate. As the ball rose toward left-center, David Murphy kept running back, and at first it was unclear whether it would be caught. Murphy ran out of room, and the ball sailed just over the 8-foot wall and into the front row of seats.
Renteria celebrated with his teammates as they passed the trophy to each other on the infield long after the game was over. Tim Lincecum, a first-time champion at age 26, praised the old guy.
“It is pretty crazy, just because he’s been around so long,” Lincecum said. “You can see he’s still got it. He comes up clutch in a clutch situation.”
It wouldn’t have been surprising if Renteria didn’t get a start during the postseason. Now, 13 years after he was the toast of Miami Beach, he’s the king of Nob Hill.
“Sat on the bench for four months of the year. Hits two clutch home runs,” said Buster Posey, the Giants’ 23-year-old rookie catcher, “and is going out a World Series champion.”