Sunday, April 25, 2004
A Waking Dream, The Perfect Day
The Magic TicketsThe father of a friend of mine at work has had season tickets at Dodger Stadium since, roughly, the beginning of time (i.e., Walter Alston). Some days, when he can't use them, we inherit them. These are magic tickets, we've decided; in previous games where we got these tickets, the Dodgers
- blew out the streaking Giants, 16-4, to avoid a series sweep at home
- beat a teriffic Braves team 5-1 to avoid another series sweep at home.
Small BallWe arrived at Dodger Stadium, Blue Heaven on Earth, one half hour before the game started. On the field, a clutch of kids milled about, anonymously. The announcer said they were all Little Leaguers and various schoolkids who had done something or other noteworthy. Some of the players signed balls for them, which must have been quite a thrill. As Helen noted, they don't do that for football. But the stands were still mostly empty; one blog doesn't have to worry about its title becoming obsolescent, at least, not yet.
ShowtimeThe Giants roster was peculiar today. There's a saying, play to win on the road, tie at home. I've never understood that, but maybe it's because of the home field advantage. Dustin Hermanson, we learned later, was a late scratch, to be replaced by AAA callup Brian Cooper. Backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba filled in for A. J. Pierzynski. Dustan Mohr manned center, and Pedro Feliz started at first.
This is not a group you have high hopes for if you're a Giants fan.
The game began uneventfully: three straight flyouts, though the Giants managed to work the count full each time. Roberts scratched out a single, Izturis got aboard on a fielders' choice, Bradley flew out to center. Green grounded out to first to end a fairly fast inning.
Then Ishii got three more, inducing a pop fly from Bonds to second. Alfonso lined out on a magnificant play by Alex Cora, and Ishii struck out Pedro Feliz to end the inning.
DelugeBeltre took a pitch on what looked like his pelvis -- ouch. Encarnacion reaches on an error. Ross struck out (will we ever see his 2003 again?) And then Alex Cora came to bat, fouling off a mess of pitches, working a full count, with Cooper throwing far too many idle pickoffs:
Rob (to Cooper): Pitch already!Immediately after she left, he dumped one into the right field bleachers.
Becky: C'mon, it's only Cora!
Helen: I'm off to the concession stands. Anybody want anything?
54,000 people simultaneously went nuts.
Skipping ahead to the third -- say, Ishii's having a remarkably good game today, there's another three straight he's retired -- Izzy comes up and whang the world is turned upside down as the team's two worst hitters suddenly become human dynamite. So does Milton Bradley, the angriest man in baseball, dropping one in to the right center bleachers.
It is no longer a game; it is a dream, the kind of dream where you can describe everything, lucid, clear, vivid, concrete.
Cora: Is this heaven?But they aren't done yet.
Rob: No, it's Dodger Stadium.
Encarnacion gets aboard on a fielder's choice after Green walks and Beltre singles. Ross sac flies one home.
We know we are dreaming, for they intentionally walk Alex Cora. This is his first intentional walk this year, only the eighteenth of his career.
Ishii, appropriately, bursts the delirium with a 4-3 groundout.
FinisIn the fourth, Roberts scores again on a single by Green, and in the sixth, another Bradley homer. Two in one day, and the first time in his career for that. He's come back strong from yesterday's incident. And again the eighth... Roberts goes round and round, whoa-ohh, and he comes out here.
In the seventh, we look up: nobody in the bullpen.
Bottom of the eighth: still nobody. Surely they're going to give him the hook?
But no. No Gagné, no wires, nobody helping. And he does it, a complete game shutout in 128 pitches, the best game of his major league career, this from the man who's been a winning pitcher in five Japan Series. We beat the Giants at home, taking the series and sending a reeling team even further into the cellar. Wow.
The Perfect DayThank Verizon Wireless for their Internet connectivity at the park, for we are able to find out that
- Pedro and the Red Sox beat the Yankees at home, 2-0, to sweep the series. The Yanks may come back -- no, will come back -- but for Becky, our Boston expat, it's a sweet day.
- the Cubs, my wife's team, have won an impressive game against the Mets with their number three starter, Matt Clement, hitting a career record for strikeouts (12). Go Cubs!
- Ramon Ortiz and the Angels beat division rivals Oakland 4-3 with what is probably his best appearance since ... well, since the 2002 postseason.
But now, bliss.
Update 11/25/07: B-Ref box