my miscellany

Giants Lose on Final, Overturned Play, 2-1 — 7 May 14

Giants Lose on Final, Overturned Play, 2-1

6 May 14

The final play encapsulated the game and the rules’ changes that define present-day baseball. And the Giants lost tonight in the second game of a thrilling and tied series in Pittsburgh.

Starling Marte came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and belted a ball that nearly cleared the right field wall. Hunter Pence played it and threw it to Ehire Adrianza, the second baseman and cut off man, who threw wildly to Pablo Sandoval at third base.

As Sandoval retrieved the ball, Marte scrambled to his feet from his slide and scampered home. Sandoval recovered the ball and threw to Buster Posey covering but not blocking home plate. Marte slid head first with arms outstretched, of course. The umpire called Marte out. Pittsburgh challenged the call. According to one replay, Marte touched home with his right arm just prior to Posey’s tag to Marte’s left shoulder just near his neck. New York overturned the umpire’s call, ruled Marte safe, ending the game with a victory for the Buccs. The victory came on an unearned run.

The play, the attempted put-out, and the overturned call brought to the fore the new rules regarding covering but not blocking the plate and the new rule about challenges to calls. Before these changes, Marte would have been called out as the catcher had the ball at home plate before Marte arrived so long as the catcher held the ball without dropping it. But those days are over.

Tim Hudson was the hard-luck loser for the Giants. He pitched 8.2 innings and allowed but 2 runs, only one earned. He struck out 5 and walked 1 as he scattered 5 hits.

The two games in Pittsburgh have been outstanding games though very different. The slug-fest of the previous night gave way to the more carefully and closely played game of tonight. They were very different but very thrilling.

The rubber game is tomorrow played in day light just a few brief hours after the thrilling final play tonight. Tim Lincecum will take the pearl for the Giants.

Giants Endure to Beat the Pirates, 11-10 — 6 May 14

Giants Endure to Beat the Pirates, 11-10

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.

Giants Behind Hudson Win Over Padres, 3-2 — 2 May 14

Giants Behind Hudson Win Over Padres, 3-2

30 Apr 14

Tim Hudson twirled a gem tonight as he pitched 8.2 innings allowing 5 hits, striking out 6, and walking none. He threw an efficient 89 pitches, and 67 were strikes. His record increases to 4-1, and his ERA rests at 2.17. He allowed a homer to Yasmani Grandal, his second of the season.

The Giants scored in the first on Michael Morse’s two-out double that sent Hunter Pence home. Brandon Hicks hit another homer in the second, his fifth of the season. And Buster Posey’s two-out single off Dale Thayer in the seventh accounted the Giants’ final and ultimately winning run.

The Giants went 5-1 on the homestand, and begin on Friday a challenging and important roadtrip to Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles, all good teams despite Pittsburgh’s sputters and Atlanta’s difficulties this week with Miami. The Dodgers, well, what can we say about them? Except that a series with the Giants never fails to be newsworthy.

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