clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lessons In Defense

SAN FRANCISCO -- Can we all finally agree that Dr. Tightpants must go?

It wasn't all Kyle Farnsworth's fault, of course, but his throw that nearly went all the way to McCovey Cove on what should have been a routine sacrifice bunt, helped give the Giants the two insurance runs they needed, and the Giants took an ugly game from the Cubs 6-3, winning the season series 4-2.

Oh, but Kyle's bad throw wasn't the worst defensive play of the game. Maybe this will finally convince Dusty Baker (and other managers) that the exaggerated shift on Barry Bonds is just silly.

In fact, my son Mark asked me when Bonds batted in the first with a runner on second, why Aramis Ramirez wasn't shifted over. Of course, it's because you can't leave third base uncovered in that situation.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened in the seventh, after Kerry Wood had allowed a leadoff single, Kent Mercker came into the game and got Bonds to ground to second. Mark Grudzielanek thought for a moment about throwing to second, and, figuring he couldn't get Pedro Feliz, threw to first.

Where was Mercker? Where was Michael Barrett? I'm guessing they were staring at the upper reaches of SBC Park watching the fog roll in.

It was a pretty impressive day for watching that today, and by the end of the game, neither Mark nor I were properly dressed, both being in shorts, and I had my Wood jersey on, and that's it -- I'm not wearing it to games Wood starts any more, because he hasn't won yet this year when I've worn it.

Anyway, I've digressed. And so did Mercker and Barrett, because neither one of them covered third base on this routine play, with Ramirez stationed near second, and Feliz scampered around to third on the groundout, and eventually scored on a succeeding groundout from A.J. Pierzynski, which Derrek Lee had to catch on a real high hop, and then throw to Grudz covering.


Meanwhile, the Giants' CF Dustan Mohr put on a fielding clinic. In the 8th (tonight's Tomato Inning, thankyouverymuch, providing the impetus for Ramon Martinez' triple), after a run had scored, Mohr made one of the best diving catches I've ever seen, right in front of us in left field, off a sinking liner by Moises Alou. If Mohr doesn't catch that, Nomar Garciaparra, who had reached on an error, would have scored the tying run and Alou would have at least been on second base. Then Mohr, having moved to RF, made a nice sliding catch to end the game in the ninth.

Speaking of LF, that's where we were today, in the bleachers, in the ninth row just behind Barry Bonds. And the bleachers there seem in some ways just like the ones at home -- populated with many regulars (a lot of them must be season ticket holders, because the tickets I bought off eBay for today, had "Season Ticketholder" printed on them), who seem to know each other, are knowledgeable and friendly, and root passionately for their team. Even better than home, there aren't a lot of drunks just hanging around. I've never had a bad experience watching a game in San Francisco, either at SBC or years ago when I saw several Cub/Giant games at 3Comdlestick Park (including the 1989 NLCS), and I told some of the Giant fans this as we were leaving. There was one guy in particular sitting behind me who was dissing anyone criticizing Barry Bonds, and despite the steroid controversy and the fact that Bonds is about as fan-friendly as an obstructed-view stadium seat, there is no arguing that he's the greatest player of his generation, and watching him play is indeed watching history.

I also ran into Marv, who's 79 years old and sits in the RCF bleachers at Wrigley Field near the concession stand; he flew out for the series with a few of his compatriots, who I never did wind up seeing. He said he was having a good time. Good for him!

One thing I wish I'd been a bit quicker about: there's a booth where a guy will make a custom-designed baseball for you. Sue had gone there and ordered a special one they were making today only, commemorating Greg Maddux' 300th win. By the time I got there, they said, "Sold out" -- he said he could only make so many a night.

More on this frustrating game in a minute; I want to digress with the rest of our day. We'd found an art fair/festival event in Burlingame, about 15 miles south on the Peninsula, so we hied the entire family down there. The kids enjoyed the slides and wall-climbing activities, and unlike so many of these street fairs, the food booths actually had decent food (one of the better Philly cheesesteaks I've ever had, believe it or not) and the prices weren't ridiculous. A fine time was had by all on a gorgeous sunny afternoon (well, at least it was sunny till the fog rolled in, which we could see hugging the western hills of San Francisco all afternoon, just waiting to pounce).

Kerry Wood had nothing tonight -- and struck out nobody for the first time in his career, covering 155 starts. Only one Giant struck out at all, pinch-hitter Marquis Grissom in the eighth, but by then, most of the damage had already been done. Wood got himself into trouble in the first, although it wasn't all his fault -- again, the Cubs' defense failed, with Ramirez missing a popup that fell just fair for an RBI single off the bat of Edgardo Alfonzo. Actually, considering how poor Wood's stuff was today, I give him a lot of credit for surviving into the seventh and throwing only 92 pitches, which is fairly efficient for him. I suppose the lack of strikeouts actually has something to do with the low pitch count. It'd have been better if the Cubs could have won the game, something predicted by the tomato piece today, which after bouncing off the 8th inning, actually landed on the tenth inning, predicting a possible extra-inning game, which might have happened if not for the extremely poor defense.

Gail, who's Jeff's friend Mark's wife (yeah, I know, clear as mud. I simply know too many people named Mark!) brought me a whole bagful of tomatoes from her garden in Gilroy, where they live south of San Jose. For a while some people were joking that I was going to throw them at Bonds -- I'd never do that. Not only is it not a nice thing to do, it'd have been a waste of some really tasty tomatoes!

[rimshot optional]

And, that was the tastiest food of the day -- I ate one after I got home, excellent home-grown tomatoes -- since I finally gave in and bought Mark a bag of cotton candy bigger than his head, and he's still bouncing off the walls this evening.

Finally, Sammy Sosa, who is 5-for-27 since the Cubs picked up Nomar Garciaparra (hmmm... superstar jealousy here?) looked particularly clueless tonight, striking out twice on really bad pitches and hitting into two double plays, although the second one wasn't his fault -- Moises Alou must have been in the Mercker/Barrett fog, because he was wandering between first and second base when Sosa hit a lazy line drive to Michael Tucker in right. I'd say Sammy needs a day off, but he's getting one tomorrow with the entire rest of the team, and they need it. Sue reported (as she was staying in the same hotel where the team stayed) that the club had checked out this morning. I found that odd -- that puts them on a redeye flight back home, probably arriving at 5 am or so, and even with a day off, I'd have thought they'd stay overnight, then leave in the morning.

Despite this tough series, relax. The Cubs maintained their two-game lead over the Padres (and now, the Giants, too), with San Diego losing to Pittsburgh today 4-2, and losing two of three to the Pirates over the weekend... and we'll all still be Pirates fans this week, as they'll host the Giants while the Padres visit Wrigley Field starting Tuesday. ESPN's pitching probables page lists Carlos Zambrano as the starter then, but with the off day, Z dropped his suspension appeal last week, served it starting the day after his last start on August 4, so Mark Prior starts on normal rest on Tuesday, and Z will start on Wednesday, followed by Matt Clement on Thursday, and then the rotation goes back in order.

One more note about yesterday's game: I got an e-mail from Eric Nehrlich, who lives here and was also at Greg Maddux' 300th win (and hadn't known that I was going to be there, or I'd surely have said hi to him), and who took some really cool pictures of this historic event. Thought I'd share with you another perspective. Thanks, Eric!

Faith and hope, everyone.