EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 10, 2012

Giants force Game 4


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CINCINNATI (AP) — Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan gave the Giants a golden chance to keep their season alive last night.

The Andover High grad’s passed ball during a 1-1 game with two outs in the 10th inning allowed Buster Posey to move to third base and Hunter Pence to move to second base.

Then, Joaquin Arias busted his tail down the first base line after hitting a soft ground ball to third base.

And when eight-time Gold Glove winner Scott Rolen bobbled the ball momentarily, it allowed Arias and the Giants to keep on running — all the way to a Game 4.

“You have to give the base runner credit for hustling down the line,” Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker said after the game. “Most guys, they’re out on that ball.”

Not Arias, who has an improbable number of big moments in 2012 for a guy who was a non-roster invitee to spring training.

This time, he keyed the Giants’ 2-1 victory in Game 3 with his legs.

For the duration of Arias’ at-bat, the giant scoreboard in center field showed his career average with two out and runners in scoring position: .219.

But Arias had no use for that statistic. Instead, he did a number on the Reds.

He tapped a two-hopper toward the sure-handed Rolen at third base. Rolen said he was aggressive in fielding the ball — and would do so again. But when he muffed the ball, he wound up making an off-balance throw.

It was ruled an error for the seven-time All-Star.

Arias saw none of that. He said he just put his head down.

“I didn’t see Rolen bobble it,” he said. “That’s the fastest I’ve ever run to first.”

His Usain Bolt act put a charge into a Giants bench that knew it caught a break.

“In the dugout, everyone was up and fired up and saying, ‘We can get it done. We’ve got to do this now,’€‰” said Sergio Romo, who got the win in relief. “We believe in ourselves, and we go out there and we play hard.”

Arias, 28, is on a postseason roster for the first time. He recorded his first playoff hit when he delivered a pinch-hit single to lead off the ninth in Game 1.

The infielder was also a hot hitter down the stretch. Beginning Aug. 1, he hit .313 with four home runs and 19 RBI.

Arias said he loves pressure of late-season baseball, even if his previous championship experience came while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic in 2010.

Asked if he was nervous about coming up with the Giants’ season on the line in the 10th, Arias smiled.

“Why?” he said. “That’s baseball.”

Only two third basemen in history have more Gold Glove Awards than Rolen. Brooks Robinson has 16 and Mike Schmidt has 10.

“I’ve gone through the play many times in my mind between then and now, and I think I would play it the same way,” Rolen said. “It hit my glove. I just couldn’t get it to stick.”