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The Marichal-Roseboro Brawl

Did you know footage exists of the Marichal-Roseboro brawl? I didn’t. See the above clip. The video freezes in a couple of places, so be patient.

For those not familiar with this famous brawl: It took place August 22, 1965, at Candlestick Park. There had been some heated words between Dodger catcher John Roseboro and several Giants players during the previous game. Juan Marichal was pitching the next afternoon for the Giants, and he threw a couple of brush back pitches that forced Dodger hitters Maury Wills and Ron Fairly to hit the deck. Sandy Koufax refused to intentionally hit any Giants batters in retaliation, so when Marichal came to the plate, Roseboro dropped a pitch behind him, picked it up, and threw the ball back to Koufax, brushing Marichal’s ear. This led to a heated argument between Marichal and Roseboro. To the shock of everyone in the stadium, Marichal suddenly hit Roseboro on the head with his bat several times, opening a gash in Roseboro’s head that would require 14 stitches. The Dodgers and Giants dugouts emptied onto the field. Koufax attempted to intervene. In the video footage, you can see the home plate umpire finally get a hold of Marichal and pull him onto the ground.

The Giant with jersey number 26 who is also brandishing a bat is shortstop Tito Fuentes. Thankfully, Fuentes didn’t end up using the bat.

Toward the end of the footage, Roseboro charges Marichal but is stopped by Dodgers players.

Unfortunately, the throw back from Roseboro that clipped Marichal’s ear has been edited out of the footage.

Roseboro sued Marichal over the incident. The case was settled out of court. Many years later, Marichal and Roseboro would patch up their differences and become friends.

Who won the game? The Giants, 4-3. However, the Dodgers would get their revenge. They won the pennant that year.

The Dickens Matt Cain

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Then, miraculously, it was the best of times again.

Sort of.

Last night for the first three innings against the Diamondbacks, Matt Cain looked like his old self. He was controlling his fastball. He was getting Diamondbacks hitters to pop out. He had three strikeouts in three innings. He even struck out Giants killer Paul Goldschmidt.

What’s more, Giants hitters were doing something they rarely do: giving Matt Cain run support. And they did so right out of the dugout, scoring two runs in the top of the first and adding another run in the top of the second. They had already matched the total number of runs they had given Matt Cain during his first five starts.

Dawn seemed to finally be breaking on Matt Cain’s dark night of the pitcher’s soul.

Then came the bottom of the fourth inning.

It started with a walk to Cody Ross, Cain’s third walk of the game. That should have set off alarms that however good Cain looked, something wasn’t quite right. Jason Kubel came up next, and on the first pitch launched one into the right field stands.

Thousands of Giants fans—sitting in Chase Park, watching on television, listening on the radio—shifted uncomfortably in their seats. They shifted again, perhaps even let out a curse under their breaths, after Eric Chavez belted an opposite field solo home run over the left field wall, tying the game, 3-3. Cliff Pennington, who doubled during his previous at bat against Cain, also got hold of one to right field. Fortunately, it fell into Hunter Pence’s glove on the warning track. Pitcher Ian Kennedy grounded out to short. With two outs, it looked like Cain might limit the damage.

Martin Prado came up and quickly got behind in the count, 0-2. The next pitch was a ball, low. The count was 1-2. Prado fouled the next pitch into the stands deep along the right field line. It was a loud foul, and, in retrospect perhaps, a portent of what was to come.

Cain threw a fastball down and in, and Prado catapulted it into the left field stands.

In case you’re wondering what a pitcher who has just given up three home runs in an inning looks like…

Matt Cain

…yeah, Cain doesn’t give away his emotions as readily as he’s giving up home runs this year. I, on the other hand, looked like his wife, Chelsea, during the final three outs of his perfect game last year. Really. I checked in the mirror.

I’ve never believed in curses, but I was beginning to believe Cain was as marked as his namesake in the Bible. No matter how well he seemed to be pitching, he carried that big run inning with him always. You didn’t know when it would come, but as surely as the sun rises in the east or an ‘L’ car follows another ‘L’ car in a downtown Muni station, it would come.

Gerardo Parra’s strikeout to end the inning hardly seemed a consolation. The Diamondbacks led, 4-3.

It was only the fourth inning, but after five consecutive losses, it appeared the Giants were being set up for a sixth. The Giants managed to tie the game in the top of the fifth, 4-4, after Scutaro singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Ian Kennedy. Pablo Sandoval knocked Scutaro in with a ground ball to right, somehow reaching down to hit a pitch that almost bounced off the plate.

Buster Posey walked. With two men on and one out, Hunter Pence hit into an inning-ending double play, although the replay showed he was safe at first. Bruce Bochy thought so too. It was the second such call that didn’t go the Giants way, and that, perhaps along with the big run inning, was too much for Bochy.  He unloaded on first base umpire Bill Miller and got himself ejected.

We were all Bruce Bochy at that moment.

The game stayed tied until the top of the eighth. Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler came in to replace Ian Kennedy. Nick Noonan, who replaced Pablo Sandoval at third in the sixth inning after Sandoval’s elbow did its thing, doubled to left. Buster Posey moved Noonan to third base with a sacrifice fly to right. Hunter Pence grounded out. Gregor Blanco walked. Another walk to Brandon Crawford loaded the bases for Brandon Belt. In what seems to be becoming a welcome trend for Belt, he hammered a ground ball to center, scoring Noonan and Blanco. The Giants took back the lead, 6-4. It would remain that way as the Giants bullpen shut down the Diamondbacks offense.

It was another come-from-behind victory for the Giants, though it didn’t feel that way. Yes, the Giants had finally broken a five game losing streak. But it’s a game they should have won from the beginning.

Still, we’ll take it, even as the big run inning for Giants starters looms large.

On This Day, April 26, 2005: J.T. Snow Goes 4-for-5 against the Padres

J. T. Snow

It was the J.T. Snow Show when the San Francisco Giants played the San Diego Padres on April 26, 2005, at AT&T Park (then SBC Park). Snow went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a triple. If that weren’t enough, he knocked in what would become the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Padres reliever Akinori Otsuka, paving the way for the Giants a 6-5 victory.

It was a much-needed win for the Giants. They went into the game having lost six of their last eight. What’s more, the aged team was ailing. Barry Bonds was on the DL, recovering from knee surgery. Moises Alou had just returned after being out two weeks with a strained calf muscle. Giants closer Armando Benitez would end up pulling his right hamstring on the final out of the game, as he ran to cover first base on a routine grounder to Snow. Benitez had to be carried off the field, casting a shadow over the Giants’ late inning come-from-behind win.

Jason Schmidt pitched 6-2/3 innings for the Giants, giving up three runs on eight hits. Two of those runs were solo home runs, one by Padres first baseman Mark Sweeney (who would end up being traded to the Giants the following year) in the second inning, the other by catcher Ramon Hernandez in the sixth. Benitez also gave up a two-run home run to Padres pinch-hitter Phil Nevin in the top of the eighth, tying the game at 5-5. This came after the Padres squandered a 3-2 lead in the seventh, allowing three runs on three errors, two by Sweeney and one by Hernandez.

Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Giants rookie outfielder Jason Ellison got on base with a broken bat infield single. Ellison then stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by Omar Vizquel. Coming to the plate with two outs, Snow hit a double that scored Ellison and moved the Giants ahead, 6-5.

The Padres managed to put a runner in scoring position in the top of the ninth, but the game ended when Padres shortstop Geoff Blum hit a ground ball to Snow, who underhanded the ball to Benitez for the force out at first.

It was manager Felipe Alou’s 200th win with the Giants.

The Padres manager? Our own Bruce Bochy.

The Reprieved Man and the Condemned Man

Lincecum

Belt

Take a look at the above two screen captures from last night’s Giants-Padres game. They’re both from the seventh inning.

The top one is of a man who just received a reprieve. Perhaps the governor called at the last minute. Whatever the case, the reprieved man can finally breathe a sigh of relief, and he does, even as the relief comes in with two outs and two men on. Nothing the relief can’t handle. After all, the reprieved man got out of a tighter jam in the third inning, with bases loaded, two outs, and a Padres slugger coming to the plate. The crowd knows it, too, which is why they give the reprieved man a standing ovation. The disaster inning everyone worried might happen didn’t happen. The reprieved man did well. He went 6-2/3 innings, gave up no runs and four hits and walked only two batters. He looked like the man he used to be, before the trouble started, before his life seemed to spiral out-of-control.

The second screen capture is of a man who looks like he just walked onto death row. Or maybe he received a life sentence as a result of a three strikes law. As a matter-of-fact, it was his second strike out. He went 0-3 last night, bringing his already dismal average down to .183. And his body language shows it. It’s the body language of a man who has lost hope.

Fear not, condemned man. Heed the lesson of the reprieved man. In the game of baseball, as in the game of life, there are second, third, even fourth chances. There will be dejection, yes. But there will also be renewal.

Bumgarner Gives Giants a Normal Win–Except for That Near Triple Play

Bumgarner ground out

Yesterday, I wrote about the Jekyll & Hyde nature of Giants starting pitching so far this season: allowing wild, big run early innings before calming down and pitching clinical gems. Well, the potion seems to have made its way to Fresno, where the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate Grizzlies play. Grizzlies pitcher Yusmeiro Petit gave up a three-run home run in the very first inning to Tacoma Rainiers’ third baseman, Alex Liddi. Petit then went on to pitch beautifully the next five innings, giving up just one run, striking out thirteen, and walking none. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Grizzlies to win. They lost 4-2. Petit just missed tying Tim Lincecum’s single-game strikeout record of 14 for the Grizzlies.

Fortunately, Madison Bumgarner has yet to imbibe the potion. In fact, he was spectacular all the way through last night against the Padres, going six innings and giving up just four hits and two runs. He struck out ten and gave up no walks.

In fact, it was a downright typical Giants game, for a change, a low-scoring tie into the ninth that was decided by an Angel Pagan double driving in Andres Torres. Giants win, 3-2.

The only unusual thing that happened last night was in the bottom of the sixth. And boy, was it unusual. Brandon Belt hit a bloop single into left field. Gregor Blanco moved him to second with a groundball single to right. That brought up Madison Bumgarner, whom 44,000+ fans in AT&T Park, everyone watching the game on television, and everyone listening on the radio expected to bunt. On the first pitch, Bumgarner did indeed square around to bunt. Then he pulled back his bat and slapped a ground ball right at Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera who tagged the passing Brandon Belt before throwing to second to force out Blanco. Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko avoided Blanco’s slide and threw to first, nearly getting the triple play. But his off-balance throw bounced over the glove of first baseman Yonder Alonso.

I haven’t looked it up, but I’m pretty sure it would have been the first time in Major League Baseball history that two triple plays were turned in a single month.

After the game, Bumgarner said the decision to hit was his. Padres third baseman Chase Headley was playing in, expecting the bunt. Cabrera shifted to his right and Bumgarner saw a huge gap between Cabrera and second. Unfortunately, he hit the ball right at Cabrera.

Tonight, Tim Lincecum pitches, and for the first time this season Buster Posey will be catching him. So much for conspiracy theories.

Last year when Lincecum faced the Padres at AT&T Park for the first time in the 2012 season, he got the win, 2-1. He went eight innings, giving up three hits and no earned runs. He struck out five and walked four. The Padres got their only run in the third inning on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Nick Hundley. The Padres led 1-0 until the bottom of the seventh when Brandon Belt hit a line drive double to center field that scored Melky Cabrera and Nate Schierholtz.

Lincecum pitching a nice three-hit game with no earned runs and Brandon Belt knocking in the winning runs? Yeah, let’s see that again tonight.

My Friend, the Giants Starter

Matt Cain

I have this friend who has some rather odd driving habits. Whenever he gets behind the wheel of a car, he appears nervous at first, uncertain of himself.  He makes a lot of small adjustments to the rear view and side view mirrors. He rolls the electric windows up and down. He moves his seat backwards, then forwards, then backwards again, unable to find the exact position he wants. He checks the glove box, closes it, and checks it one more time. He releases the emergency brake, puts it on, releases it. He makes one more mirror adjustment. Finally, after craning his neck two or three times to look out the rear window, he starts the car.

Right away, he adds too much gas and lurches backwards before slamming on the brakes and coming to a screeching stop. Sometimes, he mistakenly puts the car in ‘Drive’ instead of ‘Reverse’ and shoots forward into his garage door or the wall of a local establishment. When he gets on the road, he has a hard time staying in his own lane. He has been known to drive onto the curb and stay on it for a good 500 feet, smashing into neighbors’ trashcans. Now and then, he honks at passing drivers by mistake, which usually results in them giving him the finger.

His nervous, erratic driving goes on for about ten minutes. Then suddenly, without rhyme or reason, it stops. He remains comfortably in his lane. He appears calm, confident. He observes the speed limit. He waves pleasantly at passing drivers he knows. He drives smoothly, one might even say expertly. It’s as if the bumbling, incompetent driver who got into his car ten minutes earlier turned magically into Mario Andretti.

If I were the type of person who bestows nicknames on his friends, I would call this one Giants Starter.

It has become a common routine for Giants starting pitchers, hasn’t it? Begin a game as if you were the worst pitcher in baseball. Give up a bunch of runs in the early innings.  Then somehow, magically, transform into the lights-out pitcher everyone knows you are.

Examples?

April 18 vs. Brewers: Matt Cain gives up seven runs in the first three innings before pitching three shutout innings.

April 14 vs. Cubs: Tim Lincecum allows four runs in the first inning then doesn’t allow another run his next four innings.

April 11 vs. Cubs: Ryan Vogelsong gives up one run in the second inning and four more in the third, then blanks Cubs hitters the next three innings.

April 9 vs. Rockies: Tim Lincecum gives up five runs in the second inning and only one additional run in the next four innings.

What’s going on here? Early season adjustments? Are Giants pitchers learning from their mistakes, discovering first what doesn’t work before settling on what does?

Let’s hope so. Because although in some cases, the shutout innings have allowed the Giants to get back into the game with their bats, such as on April 9 against the Rockies and April 11 and 14 against the Cubs, Giants pitchers can’t count on the hitters to bail them out all the time. Case in point, yesterday against the Brewers.

Time to meditate on what works before the first pitch is thrown.