The Big Five with ... Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hensley ‘Bam Bam’ Meulens was supposed to be the first big thing from Curacao -- Andruw Jones before Andruw Jones, if you will. He had power and the nickname of a ‘Flintstones’ character, but the best part of Meulens’ playing career turned out to be three years as a gaijin slugger in Japan in the mid-1990s.
And now in his first year as hitting coach of the San Francisco Giants, Meulens’ hitters have picked the perfect time to explode: 20 runs scored in the first two games of the World Series -- after scoring only 19 in winning the NLCS in six games. Meulens takes a swing at The Big Five here:
So 20 runs in the first two game of a World Series doesn’t really surprise you?
“That’s what I said. We have hitters who have been great hitters in their career -- .280-.290 career hitters. At some point, I thought they would all get together and put up some runs. We’ve been scoring just enough runs all year. It’s nice to see them breaking loose like this on this stage. I took this job last Nov. 2, and haven’t taken a day off since. It’s definitely gratifying that the hard work is paying off.’'
So there was a specific plan of attack against Cliff Lee in Game 1?
“Definitely. The plan was to attack, and attack him early (in the count). Don’t let him get strike one, strike two, because he’s really tough when he gets ahead. We attacked him early and often, and he made just enough mistakes for us to capitalize. We wanted to get some runs on the board against him, make him work and get him out early. We had him over 100 pitches in the fifth inning. He missed with some pitches, and he threw more breaking balls than we thought he would throw.’'
Be aggressive and attack Lee, but also be patient enough to key a six-run eighth inning in Game 2 by drawing back-to-back-to-back walks?
“This is a veteran-filled lineup, smart enough in its approach to capitalize on mistakes. The bullpen for them came in and threw some balls. They couldn’t find the strike zone, we took advantage, and then we got a couple of big hits.’'
Edgar Renteria has had a tough season injury-wise, but comes through with the big hits again -- a fifth-inning homer and two-run double in the big eighth inning in Game 2.
“He’s all about business. He’s all about playing in big games. He’s done it before. With Florida, he got the game winning hit (to win 1997 World Series Game 7). He was on a World Series winner in St. Louis, and he did it again with that home run to get us on the board. There was a long time when he was unable to play (due to injury), and then he basically lost his job to Juan (Uribe). But he persevered, and got his chance to play again when (Pedro Pablo) Sandoval struggled.’'
At this point, does anything Juan Uribe accomplishes surprise you?
“Not at all. He’s a guy who wants to be in this situation. That’s when he is at his best. At times, he’ll swing at balls over his head, or in the dirt. But he has the discipline to take pitches sometimes, too.’'
Editor’s note: Tony DeMarco is a contributor to NBCSports.com who has been covering the big leagues since 1987. He’ll interview a guest during each day of the World Series for HardballTalk.com.