SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — Edgar Renteria felt this joy before. So had Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.
Thirteen years removed from that memorable night in Miami, Renteria became only the fourth player in baseball history with two – count ’em, two – World Series-winning hits.
“Same emotions. Same feeling. It’s unbelievable,” he said about hitting a three-run homer in Game 5 Monday night to lift the Giants to their first World Series title since 1954. “It’s unbelievable being in that situation.”
Renteria was the unanimous pick for World Series MVP following San Francisco’s 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers.
His bat quickly was snapped up by the Hall of Fame, possibly the last bat he’ll use in a major league career that started back in 1996.
A five-time All-Star, Renteria might retire at 34 following three trips to the disabled list that limited him to a career-low 72 games. He’s been playing with a torn biceps – he’s been feeling more comfortable since it completely ripped.
He wasn’t even a starter when the postseason began. Not surprising given he had just three homers and 22 RBIs during the regular season.
“This wasn’t his first rodeo in the World Series, either,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “The word I got, he was slow at shortstop. He looked like the young Renteria that I seen when he first came over.”
After getting the 11th-inning hit against Cleveland that won the 1997 title for Florida and making the final out for St. Louis in Boston’s first title since 1918, he stunned the Texas Rangers and their fans with his drive off Cliff Lee. Renteria hit .412 (7 for 17) with six RBIs against the Rangers, lifting his career Series average to .333 (21 for 63) with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs.
“Maybe I am more in focus. I know it’s a different game because if you make a mistake you’re going to pay,” he said. “That’s why my focus is different, my level is different, and just want to be the guy to do something.”
Renteria 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.
With Lee dominating the Giants in Game 5, Cody Ross and Juan 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, the No. 8 hitter, told teammate Andres Torres, who was on double deck, that he would hit one out.
“I was joking,” Renteria recounted. “But it went out.”
With first-base open, Lee got behind 2-0. The next pitch was a cutter that stayed up and over the plate. As the ball rose toward left-center, David Murphy kept speeding back.
“I saw the outfielders running and I said: ‘Oh, that has a chance to get in the gap. It has some legs, it could get over,'” Ross recalled. “I looked, and it went over and I jumped really high in the air. I don’t normally show emotion when guys hit home runs like that. But this was a special one, especially for him. Just where he came from, not knowing if he was even going to play this year, or next year and possibly thinking about retiring.’
An hour after the game, orange-and-black-clad Giants fans stood behind the third-base dugout at the Rangers Ballpark chanting “Don’t Retire!” as Renteria conducted interviews.
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 Uribe shifting from shortstop to third.
“Well, Edgar has been through it, and I wanted a leader out there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I know how bad Edgar wanted it. It wasn’t too long ago we had a little talk, and he said, `I just want to go out and win another World Series.’ And I couldn’t be prouder for him.”
Even before Monday, Renteria was 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.
Renteria celebrated with his teammates as they passed the trophy on the infield long after the game was over. Thirteen years after he was the toast of Miami Beach, he’s the king of San Francisco’s Nob Hill.
“Sat on the bench for four months of the year. Hits two clutch home runs,” said Buster Posey, the Giants’ 23-year-old rookie catcher, “and is going out a World Series champion.”
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