On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, the Giants and Dodgers were duking it out at AT&T park. The Giants called on Tim Lincecum (12-3 2.19 ERA) to prevent the sweep of the rival Dodgers. Lincecum went up against the spot starter, Jeff Weaver (5-4 3.71 ERA) because Chad Billingsley missed the start with hamstring tightness.
Timmy started the game out brilliantly striking out Rafael Furcal out on three pitches, and eventually threw three innings of no hit ball.
However, in the second inning, Lincecum walked Manny to lead off the inning, then Manny started to steal and then retreated back to first, mean while Bengie Molina rifled a throw to Travis Ishikawa who dropped the tag on Manny Ramirez who was sliding back.
It appears that Ishikawa dropped the tag on Manny's left hand as he tries to get in back in the base. This is where the officiating trouble begins. First base umpire Gary Darling calls him safe.
After the play, Bruce Bochy came sprinting out of the dugout and immediately was tossed. Bochy was fed up with the horrid calls going against the Giants. This was the second time in this series that Bochy was tossed, and the fifth time this season.
Bochy may be trying to send a message to his team to turn up the intensity and I think it was mission accomplished. The Giants were playing with a fire under them for the rest of the game. Every player seemed extra focused with intensity.
In the fifth inning, Velez laced a double, and then scored on a single by Freddy Sanchez, but when Velez was coming home Kemp fired a throw high to Russel Martin who jumped to receive the ball and as he was jumping Velez slid under Martin and up ended him.
Then the very next pitch thrown to Pablo Sandoval hits him in the elbow (to no surprise the ump calls it a strike instead) and that lights Pablo off like no one has ever seen, the usual happy Panda turned into a fierce Tiger hunting the Panda.
Sandoval immediately started walking down the line yelling at James McDonald and pointing his bat. Then the benches cleared and order restored.
Ishikawa and Lewis then both walk forcing in a run and making it 2-0. Tim doesn't have the lead for long though. The next very next inning, with the benches clearing incident lighting a fire under the Dodgers as well, they come back and score a run by a Juan Pierre triple and then Furcal ground out RBI. The game is a stale mate for the remaining three innings.
Lincecum enters the eighth inning and strikes out the side. Then comes back out their in the ninth. He retires Mark Loretta for the first out, but then in steps Furcal. He squibs one out to Uribe who scoops it up makes a fantastic play and throws out Furcal, but wait, could it be another blown call. Yes sir.
Garry Darling calls Furcal safe even though clearly he is out by a stride. Then out goes Ron Wotus who is the acting manager and he is tossed, leaving Tim Flannery as the acting manager.
The next batter, Russel Martin, skies one deep to center tracked down at the wall by Velez but on the play Furcal tags to second. Then Either who has three walk off home runs this inning, hits a hanging change-up through the whole between first and second scoring the game-tying run.
Then in the bottom of the ninth with one out Pablo Sandoval wallops one, and he thinks its gone but it hits off the left field wall and Sandoval is in his home run trot, and only reaches base when he could have gotten a triple, the Dodgers then intentionally walk Bengie Molina, bringing up the pinch hitter Aaron Rowand who hits into a double play end of the inning.
The game goes to the tenth and to start the 10th Travis Ishikawa leads it off with a walk. Randy Winn then gets out, and in steps Juan Uribe. After two straight sliders for a strike, Guillermo Mota serves up a belt high fast ball to Uribe and he doesn't miss it.
Uribe hits a two run walk-off shot high up into the left field bleachers, ending a vintage Giants-Dodgers game with everything a fan could ask for. Benches clearing brawl, dominating pitching by Timmy, and a walk off shot.
Despite what the Giants had to go through with all the plays and the calls going against them, the found a way to prevail and show what they are made of. In a playoff atmosphere and playoff intensity game, the Giants showed they can compete and win in a game like that.
They persevered and many young players such as Pablo Sandoval learned from this game. This game was a great learning experience and a great game to light a fire under the Giants and turn up the intensity. The Giants are going to embark on an 11 game road trip capped off by a huge four-game series in Colorado.
The Giants will need to show that same fight and adversity to have a winning road trip and stay in the race for the wild card. This road series could decide the fate of the Giants season.
I believe this game has proved to the Giants that they can hang with the big boys and win in big games and that will help then on this road trip and I predict it will be a successful road trip. After the four game set against the Rockies, the Giants will finally go home to play the D-Backs, then the Rockies come to AT&T for another enormous three game set.
The Giants and Rockies will play seven games within 10 days, and that should really be the deciding factor in the series. The team that can take those series will heavily be the favorite for the wild card.
This could be a great shot for the Giants to finally distance them selves from the Rockies and pull away from the wild card pack. For the four-game set in Colorado, the Giants are predicted to throw Sanchez, Martinez, Lincecum, and Zito against De La Rosa, Cook, Jimenez, and Marquis.
Then in the series in San Francisco the Rockies will have to deal with Lincecum, Zito, and Cain and they will match up against Jimenez, Marquis, and Hamels. With the look ahead, it looks like the series in Colorado should be a tough one with unreliable Sanchez and Martinez going the first two games then Lincecum and unreliable Zito.
However, the second matchup the Rockies will have to face Lincecum who is then Zito who is nails at home then Matt Cain. In between those series is also a good time for the Giants to gain ground as the Rockies play the first place Dodgers and the Giants play the fourth place D-Backs.
Keep the tv set tuned to the Giants because these last couple months are already heating up and looking like one hell of a playoff push.