10/21/2002 03:02 am ET
Zerbe comes through for Giants
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Chad Zerbe's first Major League appearance came in a Giants loss. In fact, as one of San Francisco's long relievers, he has seen his fair share of outings when his team is sunk in a deep hole.
That was the case Sunday, as Zerbe made his postseason debut in Game 2 of the World Series with the Giants trailing by three runs after absorbing a five-run pounding in the first inning.
But this time, Zerbe nearly saw a dream come true with his teammates scrapping back to tie the game and then take the lead -- with Zerbe on the mound.
"Keep it up. You're going to get this win," Barry Bonds said to Zerbe in the dugout as he gutted out four innings in relief of Russ Ortiz.
The Giants had trimmed the Angels' early lead to one run, but Ortiz had given Anaheim two more on Tim Salmon's first of two homers on the night, and Troy Glaus then doubled to chase Ortiz from the game.
In came Zerbe, who spent nine years in the minor leagues, never pitching above Double-A until 2000, the year he finally earned a trip to the big leagues as a September call-up.
"I didn't think of anything. I just got up and started throwing," said Zerbe about the moment when he was told to get loose. "I got ready and thought, 'I guess I'm getting in this game.' Sure enough, I came in to face [Brad] Fullmer. It was awesome."
Zerbe's first pitch eluded catcher Benito Santiago for a passed ball, but Zerbe got Fullmer to ground out and then retired six of the next seven batters he faced. Meanwhile, his team scored five runs to take the lead.
"I was more calm than I thought, except for the first pitch," said Zerbe. "I was a little shaky on that one, obviously. But after that, the second, third and fourth inning I was out there, I was kind of amazed myself. After I got done, I was thinking, 'You know, I was pretty calm out there to be pitching in a World Series.'"
"He did great," said J.T. Snow, whose two-run single tied the game. "He kept us in the game and he kind of slowed them down there for a few innings. He pitched great. He just came in and was relaxed and kept us in the game. It was good to see."
The Angels posted an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth, and Zerbe's name was erased from consideration for a decision after he gave up a two-out double in the sixth to Darin Erstad, who scored the tying run on Garret Anderson's single off Aaron Fultz.
Salmon's two-run homer in the eighth put Anaheim ahead for good, but Zerbe found nothing but positives in the experience.
"Well, I just pitched in a World Series game. To me, personally, it doesn't get any better than that," he said. "As a team, it's disappointing that we lost, because we battled and it was such a hard-fought game.
"It's disappointing for the team, but to myself it was definitely gratifying to go pitch in a World Series. I spent nine years in the minor leagues. And now I'm pitching in a World Series game?"
Zerbe's minor-league odyssey included a stint with the independent league Sonoma County Crushers before he signed with the Giants in November 1997.
After four different call-ups during the 2001 season, Zerbe started this season at Triple-A Fresno until Jason Christiansen's season-ending injury brought him back to the Giants on April 20th.
What made Zerbe's World Series debut even more remarkable was that he hadn't pitched in a game since the last day of the regular season, having been left off the Division Series roster and then making no appearances in the National League Championship Series. His spot on the World Series roster was in doubt since the Giants were considering adding another right-handed reliever instead.
"For a guy who hasn't thrown in a game for about three or four weeks or so, he did a great job for us," said shortstop Rich Aurilia. "Surprisingly, he threw a lot of pitches and threw a couple innings for us and did an outstanding job."
Actually, he threw four innings, his season high and more than he threw in the entire month of September. His previous best this season was 3 2/3 innings in the Giants' loss to Atlanta on May 15.
"Zerbe's performance was huge," said manager Dusty Baker. "We were hoping he could get the win. He came in, gave us some quality innings, got out quality hitters. For a young man that's basically a rookie in his first World Series appearance, I thought he did an outstanding job."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.