Bonds’ HR Helps Giants Beat Angels
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ Challenge Barry Bonds and this is what happens: Your 90 mph fastball goes flying far over the right-field fence.
Jarrod Washburn certainly knows that now.
Grabbing the most from the moment he’d always waited for, Bonds homered in his first at-bat on baseball’s biggest stage, sending the San Francisco Giants over the Anaheim Angels 4-3 Saturday night in Game 1.
``I could imagine it in my dreams, but I never thought I’d do it until now,″ Bonds said. ``It helped take the tension down a little bit for us, but games aren’t won in the first or second inning. They’re won in the ninth inning.″
Almost every question heading into this all wild-card matchup centered on one theme: Would the Angels dare pitch to the most monstrous hitter in the majors?
Washburn decided to test him. Bad decision.
``I was hoping to go after him,″ the Anaheim hotshot said. ``I made a mistake. He made me pay.″
Bonds flipped his bat after launching a no-doubt, 418-foot drive leading off the second inning, and Reggie Sanders and J.T. Snow later homered to account for the Giants’ runs.
``For Barry to start a Series like that, it’s a very good sign,″ Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ``He was very focused tonight, very silent.″
Troy Glaus homered twice for the Angels, connecting in the sixth right after the Rally Monkey first appeared on the scoreboard. But with the 44,603 fans jumping around more than the pesky primate, Anaheim could not quite catch up in its first Series appearance.
``I’ve yet to see him get a hit or throw a strike or get somebody out,″ Snow said.
Jason Schmidt got the victory, bolstered by 3 1-3 innings of hitless relief from Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and Robb Nen, who pitched the ninth for a save. Snow also contributed a slip-sliding catch earlier that kept the Giants ahead.
``You’ve got to do whatever you can to get a win,″ Snow said. ``You have to do something every night. Tonight it was my turn, tomorrow it’ll be somebody else.″
The Giants posted their first Series win since 1962, having been swept by Oakland in the earthquake-interrupted matchup in 1989.
``First games don’t mean anything. All they mean is you get to play four more games,″ Bonds said. ``I’ll be excited when I win.″
His father, Bobby, never got into a Series and his godfather, Hall of Famer Willie Mays, never homered in 71 at-bats in four Series trips.
The Angels, who did not have one player with Series experience, had been 5-0 at home this postseason. Not that this loss will deter them, having lost the opener in their AL playoff series against the New York Yankees and Minnesota.
``This obviously isn’t a blueprint to go out and lose Game 1,″ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Game 2 will be Sunday, with Russ Ortiz starting for the Giants against Kevin Appier.
A four-time MVP, home run king and batting champion, Bonds had hoped his whole career for this opportunity. And he was he clearly all business even before the start.
As players on both sides bounded out of the dugouts with big smiles during pregame introductions, Bonds was absolutely without expression as he went down the line.
No one in baseball history had played in more games _ 2,439 _ before reaching their first World Series. And at 38 and in his 17th major league season, Bonds wanted to make every swing count _ he’s already done it in the first two rounds of the NL playoffs, hitting four homers with 10 RBIs despite drawing 14 walks, six of them intentional.
Bonds tapped Angels catcher Bengie Molina on the shinguards with the handle of his maple bat when he walked to the plate for the first time. Bonds took two balls before a foul tip.
With the fans excited by the prospect of a duel, Bonds turned on an inside fastball and sent it soaring to right field. He watched for a second and took a nice, easy trot around the bases.
Washburn smiled and tilted his head to the side with a bit of a smirk as he walked off the back of the mound and rubbed up a new ball.
``I think Jarrod didn’t get a fastball where he wanted and Barry hit it out,″ Sciosica said. ``As we talked about before, there are going to be times when you have to back off.″
Bonds became the 26th player to homer in his first Series at-bat, the first since Atlanta’s Andruw Jones in 1996.
Bonds struck out, grounded out and drew a four-pitch walk the other times he came to the plate.
Glaus’ power, however, has exceeded Bonds’ show. Glaus, who became the 27th player to homer in his first at-bat and the sixth to hit two in a Series game, has six homers in this postseason, tying the record shared by five others.
Benched for Game 5 of the NLCS, Sanders rediscovered his stroke in a hurry. One out after Bonds homered, Sanders sent a drive into the seats in right-center field for a 2-0 lead.
Sanders started the night in a 5-for-34 postseason slump. Yet Baker and the Giants had seen Sanders deliver in previous big games, signing him as a free agent after he hit .304 for Arizona in last year’s World Series.
``Barry got us started with that home run,″ Sanders said. ``The day Dusty gave me off at home gave me a chance to work on the things I needed to work on.″
Glaus duplicated Bonds’ feat when he connected with one out in the second. Even with the noisy crowd it was a loud home run, echoing through the park as it sailed out to left.
Snow kept his cool to help keep a one-run lead in the fifth, then homered in the sixth for a 4-1 edge.
After Sanders singled with two outs, Snow again showed power the other way when he homered to left-center. The shot chased Washburn and was especially sweet for Snow _ he’s only player in this Series with extensive experience for both teams, having played for the Angels from 1993-96 before being traded to the Giants.
San Francisco did not get another hit as the Angels’ bullpen was nearly perfect.
Glaus struck back in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff homer and when Brad Fullmer walked and scored on Adam Kennedy’s two-out single to make it 4-3, Schmidt was pulled.
Schmidt hit 99 mph with his fastball and said he occasionally looked at his mother in the stands at Edison Field. Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in spring training, she has greatly improved.
Despite falling down, Snow made a heads-up play at first base to preserve a 2-1 lead in the fifth. With runners on first and third and one out, Tim Salmon lifted a foul pop and Snow drifted over, only to suddenly slipping on the gravel in front of the dugout.
Snow, who won two Gold Gloves with the Angels and four more with the Giants, regained his feet and composure and made the catch, prompting Salmon to slam his bat on home plate. Schmidt took care of the rest, striking out Garret Anderson to end the inning.
``Luckily, I fell on my backside and was able to keep my concentration,″ Snow said.
Notes: The first three hits were home runs, the first time that’s happened in a Series game. ... All six of Glaus’ homers in this postseason have been solo shots. ... Erstad has a hit in all 10 Angels games in the postseason. ... Giants DH Tsuyoshi Shinjo became the first Japanese player to appear a World Series game, going 1-for-3. Hideki Irabu was on the Yankees’ roster for a World Series, but did not pitch. ... The team that has won Game 1 of the World Series has gone on to win the last five championships.