Torres makes things happen; Wild Card musings
OAKLAND — At best, Andres Torres ranks as the Giants’ fourth outfielder. But he moved to the front of the line as a source of the Giants’ success in their 4-1 victory Tuesday night over the Oakland A’s.
Torres coaxed a first-inning walk on Vin Mazzaro’s 3-2 pitch and opened the scoring by rushing home on Pablo Sandoval’s double. Many runners might have held at third base. But third-base coach Tim Flannery, aiming to capitalize on Torres’ speed, waved the speedster home. Sure enough, A’s shortstop Orlando Cabrera’s hurried relay flew high and wide.
“He ignited us,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Torres. “That showed you what speed can do. He plays with a lot of energy, which you love.”
Torres helped seal the victory by making a not-so-routine catch of Adam Kennedy’s fly ball against the wall down the left-field line in foul territory. It ended the seventh inning and stranded two A’s baserunners.
“He probably saved us with that catch,” Bochy said.
Torres’ grab propelled Tim Lincecum to his complete-game victory. “I thought he was going to run into the wall, which he did, but it was nice the ball stayed in the playing field,” Lincecum said of Torres’ grab. “I was as pumped as anybody else.”
Torres, who wouldn’t boast about his skills if you paid him, explained that common sense helped him make the play on Kennedy’s fly. Kennedy, said Torres, had been trying to hit the ball to the opposite field all evening — probably a wise ploy against Lincecum. So, said Torres, “I tried to play that way a little bit.”
Encountering the wall didn’t concern Torres in the least. “I was just trying to catch the ball,” he said.
I was all set to devote a sentence or two in my game wrapup to the Giants staying ahead in the National League Wild Card race. First, however, while waiting to interview Lincecum in the Giants clubhouse, I heard a player watch a televised sports report — I couldn’t tell which network was airing it — that trumpeted the Wild Card standings. This player shook his head in mild disgust. “Five years from now they’ll be talking about the Wild Card in April,” he told the Giant sitting next to him.
Translation: It’s far too early to make a big deal about the Wild Card. So I opted not to contribute to the hype.
I’ll occasionally mention it in the near future, though. It’s relevant to monitor, since the Giants’ position likely will influence what general manager Brian Sabean does or doesn’t do before the July 31 trade deadline. But getting overly worked up about it and delivering twice-daily updates is probably premature.
— Chris Haft
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