10/27/2002 02:20 am ET
Ortiz deserved better fate
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Perhaps it would have been lost among the offensive performances the Giants used to build their lead in Game 6 anyway. It was definitely and quite literally lost in the amazing comeback by the Angels.
No matter the outcome, there was a little detail about Saturday night's game that slipped by everybody in this hitting-happy 2002 World Series.
That detail: Giants starter Russ Ortiz pitched six shutout innings.
Not that six shutout innings makes a lot of news in baseball games in general. But in this World Series? Ortiz might have well been considered a latter day Don Larsen with this performance.
Yet, fitting so well with the character of this Series, the stellar start had nothing to do with the finish.
By the time the Red Sea of fans at Edison Field had shaken the rafters cheering the Angels' 6-5 comeback victory that sends this World Series to a decisive Game 7 on Sunday, the start Ortiz made was a distant memory.
Here's a refresher: Through six, Ortiz allowed just two base hits -- one an infield hit, the other a broken-bat blooper. Two singles and two walks. That's it.
When he came out for the seventh inning and got the first out on a Garret Anderson groundout, Ortiz was in uncharted territory for this World Series. He became the Ironman of starters, actually making it through 6 1/3 innings for the longest outing thus far.
Even after he gave up back-to-back singles to Troy Glaus and Brad Fullmer and had to the hand the ball over to Felix Rodriguez, Ortiz felt like he'd done his job well -- and he had.
"Obviously, I was feeling pretty good with a 5-0 lead, and I was just hoping things would turn out in our favor," Ortiz said.
But then all heaven broke loose for the Angels and their faithful. Scott Spiezio followed Ortiz's exit by battling tough against Rodriguez before launching a three-run homer that rocked Edison Field's wild throng into a frenzy. Another three-run rally by the Halos in the eighth, and suddenly this game was in Anaheim's hands.
And Ortiz was a footnote in one of the greatest World Series games in memory. He was just a guy in the background without a bat in his hands.
With his Game 6 outing, Ortiz made amends for a horrible Game 2 start that helped set off an 11-10 Angels victory. This time, he was all about execution. He didn't change his approach to the Angels' hitters, he said.
"It was pretty much the same plan," Ortiz said. "I just executed better this time around."
That showed in the way he worked through the Angels' lineup, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing only a walk until one out in the fourth. Then even the infield single for Tim Salmon was erased when he got Anderson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Ortiz knocked down four more in succession before allowing another hit, this one a broken-bat blooper by Adam Kennedy with one out in the sixth. But he emerged unscathed from that one as well.
"Tonight, he was locating the ball much better than he did the first time," Salmon said. "He was throwing some nice cutters and really keeping guys off balance."
Wait, this is still the 2002 World Series, right? We're talking about an outstanding pitching performance, right?
Well, we know it's the 2002 World Series, because it wound up being a wild comeback victory, and that pitching performance is merely a passing thought.
Even for the man who pulled it off.
"I was happy I was able to go six-plus innings and keep us in the ballgame," Ortiz said. "But the thing I want more than anything was for us to win."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.