SAN FRANCISCO — Night had just fallen on the pretty ballpark by the bay on Wednesday and the darkness provided a frame and focus that made it seem like another big playoff moment was coming from San Francisco Giants third baseman Juan Uribe(notes).
The fifth was just that kind of inning for the Giants in their 11-7 win in Game 1 of the World Series. Three runs had already crossed the plate. Previously unbeatable Cliff Lee(notes) had just been chased from the game for the Texas Rangers. Two of his runners were still standing on base and AT&T Park was flickering like a giant birthday cake in the China Basin. The promising buzz said the sequence wasn't close to being over.
Submarining righty Darren O'Day(notes) was in on relief and after throwing two sliders for balls, he released a pitch he soon wished he could erase with a wiggle of his nose. It was a fastball over the plate and Uribe — who had already bailed Tim Lincecum(notes) out in the first inning by turning a 5-3 double play — was onto it from the start.
The stout Uribe owns a swing that will never be confused for one of the prettiest in the game. He loads his approach with power and when he misses, it can look like a spring-loaded mouse trap that missed the mouse by a good 10 seconds.
When he does connect, though, his swing looks like a vacuum-sealed helping of clout that is suddenly unleashed into the world. He usually immediately drops the bat like it's going to sting him when he does this and that's exactly what he did on Wednesday. The shot was a no-doubt-abouter to left center field and, for all intents and purposes, it promised a certain future of a 1-0 series lead for the Giants. The fans in attendance exploded again and cheered until Uribe came out for a curtain call.
"OOOO!" chanted one section of the crowd.
"RIBAAAAY!" shouted the other.
But he also came up big defensively for the Chicago White Sox during Game 4 of the 2005 World Series, a game that just celebrated its fifth anniversary on Tuesday.
Not bad for a middle infielder with a funky swing and what many previously considered to be a short shelf life in the major leagues. Now he's carrying on the Uribe legacy in San Francisco — the late Jose Uribe was his second cousin — and winning fans with every big swing.