Rewind: Giants vs Astros, Game #1

The Giants returned to Minute Maid Park after almost a year and a half's absence. Since its opening, Minute Maid Park had been very kind to San Francisco – in four seasons, the Giants lost only one game there. And they continued that trend today, pulling a remarkable and unlikely comeback against one of the best closers in the National League.

September 22, 2003 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Francisco 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 6 8 0
Houston 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 11 0

WP J. Nathan (11-4) 1IP 0H 0R 0ER 0BB 2SO 0HR 3.00 ERA
LP B. Wagner (1-4) 0.2IP 3H 3R 3ER 0BB 0SO 2HR 1.82 ERA
S T. Worrell (37) 1IP 0H 0R 0ER 1BB 2SO 0HR 2.47 ERA

Marquis Grissom set the tone for the Giants when with one out, he slammed a solo homer to give the Giants a quick 1-0 lead. Andres Galarraga followed that feat with one of his own to double the lead for San Francisco.

Giants' starter, Jerome Williams, gave up three runs. In the bottom of the second, with runners on first and third and nobody out, Brad Ausmus grounded into a double play to score Lance Berkman from third.

The Astros scored two in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. With one out, Berkman singled. Richard Hidalgo then slammed one to straightaway center field. Grissom had trouble fielding it because in centerfield in Minute Maid Park, there is this hill. As the ball came nearer to Grissom's glove, Grissom stepped closer and closer to the hill until he was almost at the bend. Distracted, the ball bounced off his glove, allowing Berkman to score and Hidalgo run all the way to third for a triple. Hidalgo then scored Ausmus hit a fly ball deep enough for a sacrifice fly.

With the Astros' starter, Ron Villone, going strong and the arms of Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner looming large, hope seemed slim. However, things took a sudden turn when the Astros skipper, Jimy Williams, made a surprising move and removed Villone from the game after he got one out in the top of the seventh. The manager brought in Brad Lidge.

Lidge got Benito Santiago, the first man he faced, to fly out. He then walked Andres Galarraga on four straight pitches and proceeded to walk Jose Cruz, Jr. on five. Lidge was then yanked in favor of Dotel. Dotel then followed Lidge's act and walked pinch hitter JT Snow to load the bases. With the bases juiced, Dotel then walked Ray Durham to force in the tying run.

In contrast, the Giants bullpen was near perfect. Felix Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, and Tim Worrell combined for three shutout innings, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out four. Rodriguez shut down the Astros in the seventh, and Nathan followed suit in the eighth.

The Astros closer, Billy Wagner, made a rare non-save situation appearance. With the game tied at three, the flamethrower got Galarraga to ground out on the first pitch of the inning for a quick first out. However, Cruz, the next batter, then dumped a little bloop into center field for a single, bringing up Pedro Feliz, who entered the game in a double switch the previous inning. The two battled until finally, Feliz made solid contact and launched a 2-run bomb into the home bullpen. Shaken up, Wagner than allowed a rarity: back-to-back homers. Durham skied one to left field and into the Crawford boxes for a solo shot.

With a three-run lead, Worrell came and pitched a scoreless ninth to secure his 37th save of the season.

Game Notes: The Giants are now 12-1 in Minute Maid Park… Galarraga's homer was the 398th of his career, making him just two shy of 400… Before today's game, Wagner had only allowed one run since July 2… This was Wagner's first loss since June 18 in a game against Arizona.

SFDugout.com's Player of the Game: Beyond a doubt, today's POTG is Pedro Feliz. Without his homer, it's likely the game goes into extra innings. Who knows, maybe the Astros pull it out. But that's a moot point since Pedro hit that big fly to bring victory into the Giants clubhouse. And he entered the game as a double switch too. Good job, Pedro!



Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at aznstarlite00@yahoo.com

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