San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt is a devout Christian, but the former Northwest Christian High School star is quite certain the notoriously rowdy Philadelphia fans weren’t expressing their desire to join him in prayer as he warmed up in the visitors’ bullpen during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
“I don’t think they were praying to God or Jesus or anything like that, but they were sure using his name a lot,” Affeldt jokes.
Affeldt, who spent much of his youth in Medical Lake and still makes his winter home in the Spokane area, played a pivotal role in sending the Giants to the World Series when he pitched two hitless, shutout innings in the Game 6 finale of the NLCS.
“I haven’t been able to pitch a lot late- ly, so to be able to get out there and pick the team up when they needed me was an awful lot of fun,” Affeldt says over the phone from San Francisco.
Affeldt, the NL Setup Man of the Year in 2009, has pitched in just four games (two in the NLCS) since Sept. 20 despite a strong second half. Hamstring and oblique injuries sidelined him during the regular season, and his statistics slipped from 2-2 with a 1.73 earned run average in 74 games in 2009 to 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 53 games this season.
Despite that, Affeldt says, “I feel like my second half numbers were as good as any year I’ve ever had.”
Affeldt, a nine-year major league veteran, pitched for Colorado in the 2007 World Series when the Rockies were swept by Boston. Now he’s preparing to face a Texas Rangers team that includes six former Spokane Indians: second baseman Ian Kinsler, first baseman Mitch Moreland, and pitchers Tommy Hunter, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman. Texas first-base coach Gary Pettis is another ex-Indian, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery are former Indians managers.
“I feel so fortunate to be in my second World Series,” Affeldt says. “Some guys spend their entire careers without going to one.”
After the series comes the offseason — a time that Affeldt spends in doing charity and youth-ministry work.
His Generation Alive project aims to fight child slavery and provide food and water to needy people in foreign countries.
“I’m just trying to bring exposure and help out where I can,” Affeldt said.
As a result, Affeldt is the Giants’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented annually to a major league player for off-field work. He figures that trophy would look awfully nice standing next to a World Series trophy.
“Whoever pitches better is going to win it,” he predicts.
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