Posey's epic night leads Giants to Game 4 win
Rookie tallies four hits, two RBIs, makes big tag at plate
SAN FRANCISCO -- There's only one way to describe the night Giants rookie catcher Buster Posey had on Wednesday at AT&T Park in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series: Epic.
"Thank you," Posey said, when asked if he understood he had that kind of spectacular performance.A sellout crowd of 43,515 and millions of fans nationwide watched as Posey became only the second rookie to amass four hits in an LCS game, but first to do so in the NLCS. His fourth hit of the night came off Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt, the starter called on by manager Charlie Manuel to throw the ninth inning in relief. Posey's first two hits accounted for his first two postseason RBIs. The climactic single to right that drove Aubrey Huff to third was the third time in the at-bat that Posey, a right-handed hitter, tried to take Oswalt in the opposite direction. Moments later, Huff scored the winning run on Juan Uribe's sacrifice fly, giving the Giants a stunning 6-5 win and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"Posey is good," Manuel said. "He had a tremendous at-bat there. His at-bat, he really beared down. I look at it like they found a way."Posey also turned in one of the defensive plays of the night when he grabbed the short hop on center fielder Aaron Rowand's throw to the third-base side of the plate and held on to tag out Carlos Ruiz on Shane Victorino's run-scoring single. That play, coming in a four-run Phillies uprising in the fifth inning, was also decisive in the Giants winning the game. "It's the toughest play in baseball, a play at the plate," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former big league catcher. "You've got to handle the throw, you've got the runner bearing down on you, and you got to keep your focus and make sure you secure the ball because it's a close play. So Buster did a great job there. You have to give Aaron Rowand credit. It's quite a throw he made. He came up and threw a strike right there. He gave Buster a good ball to handle." Offensively, Posey came into the game at 1-for-11 (.091) with four strikeouts and a walk in the series. That slump occurred after he batted .375 (6-for-16) with a double against the Braves in the NL Division Series, which the Giants won in four games. Posey picked a heck of a time to wake up. He gave the Giants a 2-0 lead with a couple of two-out, run-scoring hits during the opening three innings. Posey's single to center in the first inning off Phillies starter Joe Blanton scored Freddy Sanchez from third with the game's first run. Sanchez had singled to left with one out and advanced to third on a pair of Blanton wild pitches.
posey's postseason prowess
In the third, Huff lined a single to right and scored from there when Posey followed with a double off the left-field wall.Posey struck out in the fifth and doubled for the second time with one out in the seventh into the right-field corner. He had hits to all fields and followed the Yankees' Derek Jeter as the second rookie to rack up four hits in an LCS game. Jeter did it in an ALCS tilt on Oct. 9, 1996, against the Orioles. He's the seventh rookie in postseason history to collect four hits in a game. It was quite a performance for anybody, let alone a kid who was brought up from the Minors near midseason. "Nothing he does surprises me," Bochy said. "Since we brought him up he played great baseball -- both sides of the ball, receiving, swinging the bat. He's a guy that we obviously think a lot of. He's our No. 1 one pick and we brought him up here. We turned it over to him and he's done a great job. But it's fun to watch this kid play, it really is. The month he had in July, he carried us, and he's a guy you want up there [at crucial times] and he finds a way to get it done." Which is exactly what happened in that last at-bat with the game on the line and a delirious orange towel-waving throng imploring him to succeed. First there was the ball drilled just foul into the right-field corner that rattled around the yellow pole. Huff, who had singled with one out, would have scored all the way from first if that one had landed fair. Posey then dumped a pop down the right-field line toward the Phillies' bullpen. Foul again. His single was drilled just to the side of right fielder Jayson Werth, who made a terrific play skidding to block the ball from rolling to the wall. It also saved the inevitable run, if just temporarily. "You know what? I don't think I consciously went up there and said I was going to go the other way," Posey said. "The guy [Oswalt] throws hard. He's got an electric fastball and good offspeed stuff. So the goal was just to let the ball travel -- try to see it. When I'm going good that's what I do. I let the ball travel and can hit it the other way." In Game 2, Posey was 0-for-3 against Oswalt, who pitched eight innings of three-hit ball in a 6-1 win, Philadelphia's only victory thus far of the series. That wasn't the case on Wednesday. Asked how he digested the evening's accomplishments, Posey responded: "I helped the team win. I guess that's how I digest it." This is how the rest of the baseball-watching world digested it: Posey's performance was epic.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.