Lucky 13: San Francisco Giants Improve to 4-0 with a Little Help from Blue
My diabolical plan worked.
With the Atlanta Braves coming to open the 2010 Major League Baseball season at AT&T Park and Jason Heyward's majesty gaining momentum, something had to be done for the benefit of our beloved San Francisco Giants.
I mean, it's gotten to the point where "they" have given the 20-year-old rookie a nickname that conjures the spectre of Willie Mays at the height of his glory. The so-called Jay-Hey Kid's very moniker testifies to the certainty of his greatness.
Incidentally, you'll have to forgive Giant die-hards if we rankle a bit at the idea of leveraging our most hallowed icon so prematurely.
Doesn't the Say Hey Kid deserve more respect than an astonishing physical tool kit, a meteoric rise through the Minor Leagues, a torrid Spring Training, and a round-tripper in his first MLB at-bat?
Regardless, something had to be done to retard this imminently runaway train.
Consequently, I called upon my unwavering ability to jinx anything and everything with a firm endorsement (see: Gervacio, Sammy). I made a huge fuss about the kid and his exploits to date. Then, I sat back and awaited the fruits of my labor.
The Gents fitted the gifted youngster for a golden sombrero and suffered the indignity of a mere walk.
Southpaw Jonathan Sanchez tore away another couple of layers on what is already a glaring weak spot for Heyward. Despite not being particularly sharp, Sanchez registered two of the whiffs, making the pride of the Bravos 0-for-6 with four strikeouts against lefties in his fledgling career.
Righties Brandon Medders (who gave up the walk) and Brian Wilson tacked on the others while fellow right-hander Sergio Romo retired him on a ground ball.
In a taut, 13-inning affair decided by an infield single from Aaron Rowand, the donut from Heyward might've been the key so I'll take full credit...
And what a game it was to start home slate.
Los Gigantes posted their most impressive win of the pre-pubescent season. They fought through an uneven performance from the normally rock-solid pitching staff and got the W in come-from-behind fashion.
Sanchez was erratic and frustratingly reminded the faithful that all is not right with the starting rotation. He channeled his developmental demons and exited before finishing the fifth inning with an elevated pitch count (86 chambers spent).
Then Waldis Joaquin and Dan Runzler, perhaps also struggling with the adrenaline of the first home game, mimicked Jonathan. Neither could find much of the plate, though the lefty Runzler managed to hone in enough to mitigate catastrophic damage (only walking in one of Joaquin's baserunners).
Luckily for the Giants, what pass for the old warhorses on this green staff came in and righted the ship.
Wilson, Romo, and Jeremy Affeldt blanked the Bravos in the extra frames while Runzler delivered a scoreless ninth.
The offensive handled the rest.
With an assist from the umpiring crew.
Even with Pablo Sandoval continuing to indulge his April slumber (1-for-5, .278 on the year), the splinters rose to the challenge and clawed back against a tremendously effective Tim Hudson.
The long-time Oakland Athletic pitched seven strong innings without allowing a walk, but tired in the seventh. San Francisco exploited the opening for two runs before Edgar Renteria—still the hottest man on the planet after a 3-for-5 day with two runs scored, two runs batted in, a double, and a big fly pushed his season average to .688—tied the proceedings with a two-run bomb off closer Billy Wagner.
This was no cripple shot, either.
Wagner looked like he was throwing well, even though his accuracy was clearly off. Even a mistake to location is no day at the beach when it's coming in with some stank on it. Renteria's chill-inducing blast to left field tied the game and the bullpen kept it knotted until the bottom of the 13th.
In the decisive half-inning, Brave relieve Kris Medlen walked Juan Uribe before an errant throw on a two-out steal attempt put Uribe on third base. Which became crucial because Rowand's chopper wouldn't have scored a runner from second.
It also bears mentioning because Rowand's bat clearly interfered with Atlanta catcher Brian McCann's wayward throw. His back-swing got accidentally tucked under McCann's left shoulder exactly as the backstop was preparing to release the ball, blatantly disrupting the natural throwing motion.
Not only did home plate umpire Tim Tschida miss the call, but so did the other umps—all of whom had a better angle on the play. I'm sure Bobby Cox would've been livid had his farewell tour not officially started in the top of the inning when first base blue Bob Davidson thumbed him for arguing balls/strikes.
So, yeah, the Gents caught a break. A pretty big break.
But missed calls are a part of baseball; the Atlanta Braves will assuredly benefit from one down the line.
And who says it was all luck.
If I can put the hex on Jason Heyward, who knows what other Orange and Black magic is out there?
After all, Kirk Rueter was in attendance and casting his mojo from the front row...