|© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Beckett bested by Giants' Schmidt09/30/2003 6:50 PM ET
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Everything but the final score went right for Marlins starter Josh Beckett on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite an impeccable seven-inning, two-hit, nine-strikeout performance, Beckett came out on the losing end of a 2-0 decision to the Giants in Game 1 of the National League Division Series before a Pacific Bell Park record crowd of 43,704.
As had been the case for Beckett several times in the regular season, Beckett was outdueled by a starter who was a little sharper.
Giants right-hander Jason Schmidt tossed a complete-game shutout, holding the Marlins to three hits with five strikeouts and no walks. The last time a Giant tossed a postseason shutout was Dave Dravecky in Game 2 of the NLCS at St. Louis on Oct. 7, 1987.
"He's tough," Beckett said of Schmidt. "I knew I had to hold them to one or no runs. He probably threw 100 fastballs and I don't think he made a mistake with any of them."
"Both pitchers were outstanding," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "The usual Schmidt. Beckett was his usual self. It was a case where whoever got the breaks and they got the breaks. That's the way the game goes. Anybody who likes to see a pitchers' duel had a chance to see one."
Beckett's more glaring statistic was five walks, with one intentional to, yes, Barry Bonds.
True to their word, the Marlins made the extra effort not to allow the dangerous Bonds to beat them. In four plate appearances, Bonds was 0-for-1 (fly out to center) with three walks, including two intentional.
The reason the Giants seized early control of the best-of-five series is because the No. 5 hitter did the damage.
Edgardo Alfonzo, a former Met who entered the game 1-for-9 against Beckett, helped produce both Giants runs. Alfonzo was 2-for-4 with one RBI, producing an insurance run with an RBI double off reliever Chad Fox in the eighth.
McKeon called challenging Alfonzo, "the lesser of two evils."
The Giants' first run came on a throwing error by rookie third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who made a wild toss to first on Alfonzo's bunt single in the fourth.
Riding a string of five straight strikeouts going into the fourth inning, Beckett got into a jam by walking Rich Aurilia after being ahead two strikes in the count.
The leadoff walk put Beckett in a bind because he nibbled on the corners with Bonds, eventually walking him on a full count. The Giants scored on Alfonzo's bunt single. Cabrera charged the well-placed bunt and his wild throw drifted into foul territory. Aurilia scored from second, and the Giants had runners on the corners.
Beckett, who walked three in the inning, did escape further damage with the bases loaded by striking out Jose Cruz Jr. looking and Schmidt swinging. The run was earned.
While Alfonzo's bunt was pivotal, Beckett and McKeon agree the most telling moment of the inning was Aurilia's walk.
"That was probably the key hitter of the game," McKeon said. "He had two strikes, and I know what's going through his head. Instead of letting him hit the ball, he tried to strike him out."
Considering how Beckett had command of his fastball, often topping out at 97 mph, and his curveball was biting, the brash 23-year-old Texan lost composure in his pitch selection.
Ball four was a sweeping curveball off the mark.
"Giving up the walk to Aurilia ended up biting me in the butt," Beckett said. "It was really stupid. I was trying to make him swing at my pitch. That's what you do when you get ahead two strikes on him. I think I had a good approach. He did a good job by laying off some pitches."
If Beckett was going for the "K" he had good reason. Aurilia snapped a string of five successive strikeouts by the Spring, Texas, native who grew up idolizing Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.
But going for the strikeout reminded 72-year-old McKeon of a common saying by his former boss, legendary Oakland owner Charlie Finley.
"Charlie Finley used to tell me, 'If you want to be a hog, you end up eating garbage.'" McKeon said. "That was probably the key play of the game."
The Aurilia walk led to the sequence where Alfonzo dropped a perfect bunt involving two players who are heroes in their native Venezuela.
Alfonzo caught Cabrera off-guard at third base. The 20-year-old Marlin from Maracay was playing back of third, and charged. Because of the angle and Alfonzo digging down the line, Cabrera didn't have a clean throwing lane for the rangy, 6-foot-5 Derrek Lee.
"It was a tough play for me. ... I played behind the base," Cabrera said. "He got a good bunt. The ball (sailed) inside the runner."
Lee said an accurate throw probably gets Alfonzo.
McKeon said the rookie "should have ate it."
A no-throw, in hindsight, may have kept the game scoreless.
Cabrera is starting at third because two-time All-Star Mike Lowell is coming back from a broken left hand. Activated on Sunday, Lowell isn't projected to start in Wednesday's second game either.
"You can't fault the kid," McKeon said. "If he thinks he can make the play, he might as well try to make it. He's done a heck of a job since playing there. I can't find fault with the kid."
In the eighth, Fox intentionally walked Bonds with two out and no one on. Bonds stole second on a pickoff play by Fox to Lee at first. Lee didn't throw to second, and Alfonzo followed by crushing a double off the wall in center.
"The throw brought me to my knees," Lee said. "I couldn't make a play."
Fox left a slider up, and Alfonzo hit it out of Juan Pierre's reach at the wall in center.
The Alfonzo double raised the issue postgame of whether McKeon should have intentionally walked Bonds.
"If I would have pitched to him, and he hit it into McCovey Cove, you guys would have been saying, 'You said you weren't going to pitch to him.'" McKeon said. "You are damned if you do, damned if you don't. I'd rather do what we did than have him hit it into McCovey Cove."
Offensively, the Marlins were unable to mount much against Schmidt.
The Marlins had runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings, but were unable to get a run-scoring hit.
In the fourth, Ivan Rodriguez singled and went to third on a throwing error by J.T. Snow. Cabrera's fly out to right ended the inning. And in the fifth, Jeff Conine singled and Alex Gonzalez reached on Aurilia's error at short. With runners on second and third, Pierre flew out to right.
"You get a pitching performance like [Beckett's], offensively you've got to score some runs," Pierre said. "We couldn't do it. He did a great job and we wasted the pitching performance. It's too bad that Josh pitched such a great game and came out with nothing."
Schmidt contained the top of the Marlins' speedy order, causing Pierre and Luis Castillo to go a combined 0-for-8.
In games during the regular season when the top two hitters in the lineup didn't reach base, the Marlins were 2-3. Now, they are 0-1 in the playoffs with their speedy setup batters unable to reach.
"We just couldn't get into anything offensively," Pierre said. "Unfortunately, it happened in the playoffs."
Dangerous path to media room: McKeon was not able to make his postgame media session because the manager, escorted by two policemen, wasn't able to work his way through the exiting crowd to the interview room.
Due to logistics at the stadium, McKeon was directed to walk through the large exiting crowd that stood in his path to where the interview room is located in the tunnel under the stadium.
So McKeon discussed Tuesday's game with the media in his office in the Marlins' clubhouse.
"I'm sorry guys. I didn't make the interview room because I couldn't make it down there," McKeon told reporters. "We had two policemen. We were trying to make it through the stands. We got bombarded. People were reaching for my hat. They were throwing stuff at us. We couldn't jockey the line. It was hazardous. I think they've got to come up with a better idea if they want to get us there."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Marlins Homepage | MLB.com