10/28/2002 01:50 am ET
Hernandez struggles in finale
Four straight hits in third inning spells trouble
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- While other Giants players milled around the clubhouse and stood at their cubicles for the inevitable interviews discussing the team's Game 7 loss, Livan Hernandez took a few moments to sit at his locker, his head in his hands.
Not that Hernandez was taking the Giants' Game 7 World Series loss to the Angels any harder than the next man in the San Francisco clubhouse. But, as the pitcher who started Sunday's game and gave up all four runs in a 4-1 defeat, perhaps he was taking it a little more personally.
By the time he collected himself and spoke with the media that gathered at his locker, Hernandez knew the truth: This loss was painful for everyone.
"It's bad for everybody," Hernandez said. "You work hard all year, and you come here and lose two games on the road, nobody's going to feel good."
It was indeed a tough way to finish off a long year for the Giants. Hernandez started the first game of the Giants' 2002 regular season way back on April 2, pitching eight brilliant innings at Dodger Stadium to lead the Giants to victory. He didn't have quite the same luck in Game 7, leaving after being unable to register an out in a three-run third inning for the Angels.
From that Opening Day start forward, Giants manager Dusty Baker put his faith in Hernandez when a lot of people wouldn't. Even though Hernandez entered this World Series with a 6-0 career mark, the faith wasn't rewarded this Series.
Still, asked whether he'd thought of starting Kirk Rueter, who pitched well in Game 4 and pitched four innings of shutout ball Sunday after Hernandez exited, Baker didn't hesitate.
"We didn't wrestle with that decision," Baker said. "Kirk was going on three days' rest and Livan was on his regular day. Kirk gave us all he had in those four innings. I don't know how much further he could have gone. Livan was strong. He could have gone nine innings."
But Hernandez didn't get close. He gave up a run in the second and then loaded the bases to start the third. He left an inside fastball to Garret Anderson up in the zone, and the bases were cleared. The Angels held a 4-1 lead that would stick the rest of the night.
"If it's the regular season, I probably would have continued in the game," Hernandez said. "But now it's 4-1."
And it's the World Series. After an intentional walk to Troy Glaus, Hernandez's night was through after 53 pitches, pulled in favor of lefty reliever Chad Zerbe -- who, incidentally, snuffed the rally at that point.
"I had to keep that game intact," Baker said. "That's about as far as we could have gone with him. I was hoping we could have gotten out of that bases-loaded situation."
No such luck, and the rough Series for the Giants' starters as a unit continued. While Rueter, Jason Schmidt and Russ Ortiz each had solid starts, Ortiz also had one really bad one and Hernandez had two. They finished with a 8.10 combined ERA for the Series, and Hernandez was the worst of the bunch going 0-2 with a 14.29 ERA.
In the end, all Hernandez could do was tip his cap to an Angels lineup that beat up on more pitchers than just him this season, and in this World Series.
"Anaheim beat me," he said. "I don't have an excuse. They hit me. I couldn't do nothing about it. They hit it."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.