5 May 14
As sweet as the victory is, so, to the same degree, would have the defeat been bitter. No ordinary game has so many unusual features, so many tip-offs of its special quality and perhaps its significance in the molding and developing of a team. So unusual a game, regardless of its significance, hangs around in the memory of the players and the fans, and that alone can mean that it has more power than accrues to one of one hundred and sixty-two.
When a game goes 13 innings, ends at 12:36 am, and features two starting pitchers as pinch-hitters, a throw hitting an umpire, two replay challenges, a strikeout that requires 14 pitched balls, an 8-2 lead being blown, and a team that went 0-for-Atlanta with RISP connecting for 8 hits in those situations, it has distinguished itself in the present and potentially may motivate the victors and intimidate all opponents. And that’s what happened yesterday. So powerful was the game in the present, that each day’s observance will include looking for its wake, its enduring consequences and effects.
The story of the winning run breathes that power though it is easily told. Jean Machi, asked to bunt for the first time as a professional ballplayer, dropped down a beauty and busted his 255-pound body up the first base line drawing a poor (sleepy?, lackadaisical?) throw that went far enough awry to permit Hunter Pence to scamper around for second base and to put the Giants ahead and finally to win the game. Sergio Romo gathered the save on 8 pitches; 7 were strikes.
Hector Sanchez’ effort and stamina exemplifies those qualities in the entire team. He had a career-high 4 hits (3 in the magic situation, RISP). He endured the usual foul tips off the mask and chest, had a wild pitch bounce off his bared hand, suffered a tight groin, permitted 3 runners to steal a base, caught all 13 innings, and finally gave the postgame TV interview. And all night long he had a sore throat and nasal congestion. His performance pushes the horizon out further for a single game.
A victory like this can turn a corner for a baseball team. A good team can find within itself the wherewithal to be a very good team.