Friday, September 10, 2010

Weirdest game of the season

The Giants win 1-0 in San Diego and move into virtual tie for 1st place in the NL West by managing to out-Padres the Padres. Jonathan Sanchez "earned" a loss to San Diego on April 20th despite only allowing one hit in seven innings. Less than a month later, he "earned" another loss to the Padres despite yielding only one run in eight innings. Two lesser efforts after that (May 18 and August 13) meant the Padres were his daddy, and the only thing left for him to do was something radical. He had to shake things up, after all, just pitching wasn't going to cut it. First thing? He scratched out the SD logo on the Petco mound. That was some serious in-your-face disrespect! Second thing? He pitched around every hitter in the lineup! Yes, instead of getting them out, he simply walked them. Unorthodox, I know, but it worked. Giving up only one hit in his five innings, despite previous evidence that the Padres win when they get only one hit, Sanchez left the game a non-loser. Look, man, if you want to earn a "W" then you have to give up ZERO hits, remember?

The Giants scored their run, the difference in the game, without getting a hit. Clayton Richard dominated the Giants through six, then hit Aubrey Huff leading off the 7th inning. After falling behind 1-0 to Pat Burrell, Bud Black summoned Luke Gregerson who got the strikeout. Huff, though, stole second base! Jose Guillen then hit a grounder to short, and Huff took off for third base even though the ball was in front of him! He looked a bit like a kid caught with his hands in the cookie jar, glancing over at Migule Tejada as he chugged toward the bag. The throw was a bit wide, thankfully, and he slid in safely. It was sort of like the Sanchez pitching strategy: do the opposite of what you are supposed to do and it will pay off. This is Petco and the Padres, and it has been two season of weirdness and wretchedness with this club and in this stadium, so I can't blame the Giants for trying anything, even if it is the wrong thing. Tonight, the move worked, and all it would take now was a double-play ball to complete the scene. Juan Uribe, clutch performer that he is, obliged with a grounder to short. Pinch-runner Nate Schierholtz plowed into David Eckstein on the pivot and it was just enough to prevent the out at first and the run scored. The Giants kept up the theme, putting two men on with no outs in the 8th and the 9th and refusing to get insurance runs both times. Once again, the Padres strategy of getting studly bullpen work late in the game backfired, as the Giants won easily with a five-out save from Brian Wilson. One of those outs was a caught stealing of Everth Cabrera on a nice throw by Eli Whiteside and a quick tag by Edgar Renteria. Buster Posey, despite being the mortal offspring of gods, would have thrown that one into centerfield--it was that kind of night.

It was an amazing win by the Giants, a bizarre, flukey, how-was-that-possible win, but a win nonetheless. After all we've had to endure with this goddamn Padres team, it was sweet comeuppance. The stage is set now for the series victory, and, if I may be so bold, the sweep we all crave. A split doesn't help. We have to gain ground, and the only way to do that is to win at least one more game. I like our chances. Watch out for Colorado.

That's all I have to say about that.




Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. I too believe that JSanchez has a strategy that he sticks too, and even if he didn't, one hit over five innings with no runs is a pretty good mistake. I think Nate was the MVP of the game. If he didn't crash into his leg (Eckstein?), that would have been a double play and no runs would have scored. Oh, the pitching and defense were extra magical. Go Giants (who can play Padre ball)!

Zo said...

Lose by a David Eckstein home run, win by a failed David Eckstein pivot. Your 2010 season, tortuously nonsensical.