And a rookie shall lead them: Buster Posey carries Giants to brink of World Series

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Juan Uribe surprisingly didn’t put up much of a fight in the bottom of the ninth inning when home plate umpire Wally Bell ruled that the 1-1 pitch from Roy Oswalt hit his bat handle and not his hand.

Instead of taking his base Uribe just waited a couple pitches and hit the game-winning sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Aubrey Huff from third base and putting the Giants one win away from the World Series.

Uribe delivered the walk-off blow and also made an excellent defensive play despite being in the game for all of one inning after coming in as part of a double-switch, but it was 23-year-old rookie catcher Buster Posey who carried the Giants all night.

Posey put the Giants up 1-0 with an RBI single in the first inning, made it a 2-0 lead with an RBI double in the third, doubled again in the seventh, and advanced Huff to third base with an opposite-field single off Oswalt in front of Uribe’s game-winning fly ball. Oh, and he also made a great defensive play to cut down Carlos Ruiz at the plate in the fifth inning, picking up a short-hop throw from center fielder Aaron Rowand and hanging on in a catcher-on-catcher collision.

Not a bad night for a kid who was at Triple-A until May 29.

Posey went 4-for-5 overall, becoming just the 13th player in baseball history to have a four-hit game in the playoffs at age 23 or younger. And it’s a helluva list: Miguel Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Lenny Dykstra, Joe Garagiola, Hank Greenberg, Joe Medwick, Freddie Lindstrom, Goose Goslin, Frankie Frisch, Donie Bush, Ty Cobb.

Lost in Posey’s historic heroics is that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made several questionable bullpen moves, including using Game 2 starter Roy Oswalt to pitch the ninth inning in relief on two days’ rest rather than turn to closer Brad Lidge. No doubt Manuel was holding Lidge back for a so-called save situation, but as so often happens when managers make tactical decisions based on the accumulation of that statistic there was ultimately never a lead for Lidge to close out.

If the Phillies are going to turn the NLCS around and get to a third straight World Series they’ll need Oswalt to come up big Saturday in Game 6, but first we’re in for an epic Game 1 rematch between reigning back-to-back Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and his likely successor Roy Halladay. San Francisco is one victory from the World Series, but if any team can stave off elimination for three straight games it’s the back-to-back National League champs with The Big Three of Halladay, Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.