OnBase: Giants Lose a Gem

Pablo Nagila

Pablo Nagila

Innings One Through Three: Ominous Omens

“I can’t believe this,” says the Colorado sportswriter, staring at his iPhone. “Here’s my lede: ‘On Transgender Night in San Francisco, the Colorado Rockies found their offensive identity.’ Isn’t that great? My *@#! editor says ‘Kill it!’ Just like that, and he hangs up.”

I sympathize with his feeling toward editors, but the game won’t start for another half-hour; why is he writing his lede now? Anyway, it’s not Transgender Night, it’s Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender Night at Mission Creek Ballpark. The LGBT pregame party is well underway behind the bleachers, raucous but cold in the evening wind and an early fog. A woman wearing a black hoodie with a rainbow SF cries out “Why didn’t we go to an A’s game?” The A’s are playing in New York, where it’s now in the 80s.

Jonathan Sanchez starts tonight for the Giants. He’s on the cover of the current Giants Magazine, looking very GQ: relaxed, confident and ready to go out, though not necessarily out to pitch. Prototype for the inconsistency plaguing Giant pitchers, Sanchez is due for a good game, having had a bad one last week.

Tonight opens with a very strange sequence on the first play: a cracked bat, a stumble and a bad throw. On Sanchez’ sixth pitch, Rockie Eric Young cracks his bat when he hits a slow ground ball just to the side of the pitcher’s mound. Sanchez stumbles and falls trying to pick up the ball, which he deflects, making it impossible for Freddy Sanchez to make a play from second. Error-free until last night, Sanchez tries to make the play anyway, but throws the ball into the Rockies’ dugout behind first. Young takes second with no one out. Will Sanchez famously lose concentration? No. He calmly strikes out the next two Rockies, and Buster Posey throws Young out as he tries to steal third.

Sanchez’ first-inning work is so impressive that fans quickly forget the uncanny chain of bad luck and blunder in the game’s opening moment. The audio-visual team strikes up the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Opposing Sanchez for the Rockies is Jorge De La Rosa, a Mexican lefthander who was injured earlier this year but pitched an excellent game last week against Atlanta. He’s throwing fastballs around 93 mph and he’s launching a lot of split-finger fastballs. The “splitter” is another variant of the fastball, incorporating a last-second drop. It’s a pitch that induces ground balls, because if thrown correctly, dipping as it crosses the plate, hitters often only make contact with the top of the ball.

Both pitchers are on their game, and at the end of three, no score.

Innings Four Through Six: A Trannie Chorus

De La Rosa opens up the bottom of the fourth, walking Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell. Buster Posey hits a ground ball sharply up the middle, and Huff scores. The Giants’ rally ends with Burrell on third as Pablo Sandoval, batting from the right side, flies out to center.

During the face-off between De La Rosa the Mexican and Sandoval the Venezuelan, the ballpark organist plays “Hava Nagila.” It seems a little inappropriate until I get word that trannies in far left field are singing Pablo Nagila.

Innings Seven Through Nine: What Would the Wizard Say?

By the time I get to left field, the trannies have moved on. I meet W.R., who read a piece I had written awhile back in which I quoted the former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden. He asks if I’ve seen the quote by Wooden, the “Wizard of Westwood,” in the sports icon gallery on the ground floor. I didn’t know there was a sports icon gallery. “Something to do with things turning out the best. It’s an awesome aphorism. You should check it out,” W.R. says.

Layers needed in left-field bleachers.

Jonathan Sanchez looks like a winner when he starts off the ninth inning throwing two strikes to Dexter Fowler. His next four pitches stink; Fowler walks and manager Bruce Bochy decides to bring in All-Star closer Brian Wilson now. Sanchez departs the mound to a standing ovation.

The first batter Wilson must face is Carlos Gonzalez, also an All-Star and a candidate for this year’s Most Valuable Player. Wilson cautiously begins with a slider that doesn’t fool anyone. He then starts throwing his fastball, which is noticeably slower than usual, but he keeps cranking it up. On Wilson’s seventh pitch, Gonzalez cracks his bat hitting the ball. The bat goes flying toward center, the ball goes sailing into right center. Rightfielder Cody Ross may have had a chance at it, but fooled by the breaking bat, he moves in before seeing the ball going out. A run scores and Gonzalez heads for third. Ross relays to Freddy Sanchez, whose throw to third nicks Gonzalez, sending the ball rolling into a camera well next to the Giants’ dugout. Gonzalez trots home with what will be the winning run.

Rockies win 2-1 and gain another game on the Giants in the wild card race. They are clearly on a roll. Fortunately, the Giants do not lose ground to division leader San Diego or wild card leader Philadelphia.

I leave as soon as the game ends. Half way to BART I wish I had looked around for that John Wooden quote. Something to do with winners and why they win. I’ll look for it tomorrow.

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