Scutaro's throw draws Jeter comparison

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro is interviewed before practice for the MLB World...

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro is interviewed before practice for the MLB World Series in San Francisco October 23, 2012. (Reuters/DANNY MOLOSHOK)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:05 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - A shortstop made a relay to the plate on the west coast 11 Octobers ago.

That month was never the same after that for the Oakland Athletics.

Across the Bay Bridge from Oakland, the San Francisco Giants made a relay to the plate in Game 2 of the World Series Thursday night.

So, years from now will Thursday's throw live on in Bay Area history like the one from 2001?

"No way," said Giants shortstop Marco Scutaro, "Derek Jeter's play was one for the annals of baseball history."

Jeter was at shortstop in Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division Series. In the seventh inning, New York Yankees right-hander Mike Mussina faced Terrence Long holding a 1-0 lead with two out and Jeremy Giambi on first base.

Long lined a ball inside the first-base line. The ball bounced into the corner as third-base coach Ron Washington waved Giambi home. Right fielder Shane Spencer tracked down the ball but overthrew both second baseman Alfonso Soriano and first baseman Tino Martinez.

Jeter saw how bad the high throw was and made a dash. On the run, he caught the ball on a hop, made a backhanded flip, 20 feet, lateralling in the same manner as a quarterback would flip a football on an option play.

Giambi didn't slide and was out, the Yankees won 1-0, and rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win the best-of-five series.

"Jeter's play was pure instinct, that was unbelievable," Scutaro said.

Scutaro's wasn't bad either.

With Prince Fielder on first base, Delmon Young got a solid hit to left field. Scutaro, the second baseman, raced to the third-base line as Fielder chugged around the bases and was waved home by third base coach Gene Lamont.

Left fielder Gregor Blanco -- good glove, good bunt, but not much of an arm -- overthrew shortstop Evan Crawford.

Enter Scutaro.

He fired a strike to catcher Buster Posey, who stepped in front of the plate as the earth shook, slapped a tag on Fielder's rear before the Tiger's foot touched the plate, and plate ump Dan Iassonga got it right, calling Fielder out.

That's 7-4-2, if you're scoring at home.

"On anything hit into the left-field corner it's my responsibility to go over there in case I need to help," said Scutaro. "We're not worried about second base -- the batter already has second base. We're trying to keep the run from scoring.

"The shortstop goes out and I'm behind him in case the left fielder made a bad throw and it goes high -- which is exactly what happened."

In 2001, Jeter came to the rescue after Spencer overthrew two relay men. In 2012, Scutaro was the second man in perfect position as the back end of the tandem relay.

"I can help if the throw is high or if it kicks away from the shortstop on a short hop," said Scutaro, the former Blue Jay who signed a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent. This season he began the season with the Colorado Rockies and was dealt to San Francisco at the deadline.

It was the perfect storm for the Giants, and the perfect mess for the Tigers.

In perfect position, Scutaro already had angled his shoulders to the plate when he caught the ball and threw a strike.

For the Tigers it couldn't have gotten any worse: Manager Jim Leyland said Lamont "got a little overaggressive," and instead of having Madison Bumgarner and his 11.20 ERA on the ropes with second and third with none out, Young was on second with one out, after the Tigers had made the first out of the second inning at the plate. A no-no, no matter what league you are playing in.

Bumgarner needed six pitched to get Jhonny Peralta to pop up and strike out Avisail Garcia.

Fielder was tagged on his bent, right leg. Had it been straight? Fielder argued and Leyland went out to speak with the plate ump.

"I thought with my naked eye, he was out, but when Prince reacted, I thought, maybe he might have missed him," Leyland said. "But the ump made a great call, an absolute terrific call in a tough situation."

From the Giants dugout, manager Bruce Bochy thought it was 1-0 Tigers.

"It hit off the wall, so I thought he would score, to be honest, the way it carried off the wall," said Bochy. "It took two perfect throws to get him. It was a bang-bang play, and great call by Dan. That's not an easy call there. He was out, and good quick tag by Buster. It took a perfect relay to get it done."

After scoring in two of 18 innings (three total runs) on the coast, the Tigers return home, hoping to be able to get to Justin Verlander in Game 5.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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