SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants bumped into an old friend on Wednesday. They thought the friend was dead.
The friend is known as Hope.
The Giants had been wandering down a back alley keeping close company with Despair, the enemy of Hope. You never want to be friends with Despair.
How into Despair were the Giants? Before they beat the White Sox 7-1, they had lost five games in a row, an ugly number. Five in a row wasn’t even their worst losing streak of this season. Twice, they had lost six in a row.
And, frankly, they were flirting with a sixth-straight loss for most of Wednesday’s game before IT happened. I’ll get to IT in a moment. Understand this. IT was the Despair breaker. IT introduced the concept of Hope. Whether the Giants can build on this Hope, can turn Hope into Success, is strictly up to them. Hope is a start.
OK, here’s the deal. Naturally, the Giants were trailing in the bottom of the seventh, trailing 1-0, a score which seemed insurmountable to them. That’s how badly they hit.
I won’t go over the whole inning. You can read that in the gamer. Cut to the key moment. Cut to IT. With one out, Gregor Blanco ran home from third on a ground ball to first base. Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu threw home to catcher Tyler Flowers, and Flowers tagged out Blanco. No doubt about it.
Then Bruce Bochy did one of those slow walks to home plate. He was killing time until his TV guys could watch a replay. They would tell him whether to appeal the home-plate call. They told him to appeal. The umpires put on those bulky black headsets that look like earmuffs and stood around. The players stood around. During replays there’s a lot of standing around.
The nature of the appeal was specific. Had the catcher Flowers blocked the plate before he got the ball? According to the new rules, a catcher can’t block the plate without the ball.
The rules monitors in New York (who are those guys?) said Flowers blocked the plate sans ball, and Blanco had, in fact, scored.
Oh, joy. Oh, lucky day. There is a baseball God. That’s what the Giants must have thought.
Now, the score was tied 1-1 and the game would have continued. It really would have. Except Chicago manager Robin Ventura went stark-raving mad. He is an old-style baseball guy like, say, Billy Martin or Earl Weaver, and he was brought up in the hallowed baseball tradition of going stark-raving mad.
He hated the call so much he shouted at the home-plate ump and kicked dirt on the plate and then kicked more dirt on the plate. You expected him to throw himself on the ground and flail his arms and legs while the medics shot him full of elephant tranquilizer. His behavior was peculiar in many respects. The umpires hadn’t overturned the call. The guys in New York had. Maybe he was sending them a message. Maybe they didn’t care.
Back to the action. Angel Pagan singled to left center. Two runs scored. And the rout was on. The Giants scored seven in that inning, the most they’ve scored in a single inning this season. And they crushed the White Sox, or the Pale Hose as Ken Korach likes to say.