ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS / AP) — Edgar Renteria saves his most memorable moments for the World Series.
After getting the hit that won the 1997 title for Florida and making the final out for St. Louis in Boston’s 2004 win, he pushed the Giants to their first title in 56 years.
Renteria’s three-run homer off Cliff Lee in the seventh inning stunned the Texas Rangers and their fans, sending San Francisco to a 3-1 victory Monday night in Game 5. His unexpected offense from the No. 8 spot in the batting order earned him World Series MVP honors.
Not bad for a guy who began the postseason on the bench.
“It was a tough year for me,” Renteria said. “I told myself to keep working hard and keep in shape because something is going to be good this year.”
A five-time All-Star who has declined dramatically the past three seasons, Renteria hit .412 (7 for 17) with six RBIs in the Series. He had all of three homers and 22 RBIs during an injury-filled regular season that landed the shortstop on the disabled list three times and prompted him to openly ponder retirement.
“I don’t know. I’m going to think about it and see what happens,” he said Monday night.
But he’s used to the big stage — Renteria is one of only two players to get a World Series-ending hit and hit into a World Series-ending out, according to STATS LLC. The other was Goose Goslin, who struck out for Washington against Pittsburgh in 1925, then singled for Detroit against the Chicago Cubs in 1935.
In 1997, Renteria’s 11th-inning single up the middle off Cleveland’s Charles Nagy won the title for the Florida Marlins, only the fourth Game 7 in World Series history to stretch into extra innings.
Seven years later, his comebacker to Keith Foulke finished Boston’s four-game sweep of St. Louis and gave the Red Sox their first title since 1918. He was the one who hit the ball that Doug Mientkiewicz made famous.
The two-time Gold Glove winner returned to the World Series with his sixth major league team in 15 seasons.
Contemplating retirement at age 34, Renteria made three trips to the disabled list this year because of a strained right groin (May 6-22 and May 25-June 16) and a strained left biceps (Aug. 11-Sept. 1). His 72 games were the fewest of his big league career.
He didn’t start in the division series against Atlanta but was inserted into the lineup in Game 2 of the NL championship series at Philadelphia. Renteria started 10 of the Giants’ final 11 games, with Juan Uribe shifting from shortstop to third.
Renteria responded by turning into a surprising slugger.
He hit a go-ahead homer off C.J. Wilson in the fifth inning of Game 2, then singled in two runs in the eighth. He added three hits in Game 4, helping the Giants to a 4-0 win and a 3-1 Series lead.
Then in Game 5, with Lee dominating the Giants, Cody Ross and Uribe started the seventh with consecutive singles up the middle, and Aubrey Huff sacrificed for the first time in his 11-season big league career.
Renteria took two balls and Lee made a crucial mistake. On what apparently was supposed to be a slider down and away, he left the pitch over the middle of the plate. Renteria sent it deep to left-center, and at first it was unclear whether it would be caught. It sailed just over the 8-foot wall and into the front row of seats.
The Giants never looked back, and Renteria had another championship to savor.
“Sat on the bench for four months of the year, hits two clutch home runs and is going out a World Series champion,” rookie teammate Buster Posey said.
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