I have seen a lot of baseball games in my time, and over the past seven years, I have scored almost 300.
Over that period, I have witnessed some pretty cool stuff. Dallas Braden's perfect game tops the list, but I also saw Rich Harden shut out the Rangers on 81 pitches, striking out the side on nine pitches in one frame.
And, I have seen some awful stuff, like Jamey Wright and some Steve Trachsel-like pitcher toss a couple of hundred pitches total over five innings, aggravating everyone in the hemisphere, let alone their managers.
But, somehow last Tuesday, when the Giants lost to the Padres 7-5, a new low was set in my memory banks of poorly played games.
It started in the first inning when Jesus Guzman, who had as memorable a game as anyone ever shall have, got picked off first base by Chris Stewart (who was a close second in strangeness) after singling in a run with two out.
The bottom of the first was uneventful enough, but in the top of the second a terrible call by first base ump Rob Drake put Orlando Hudson on first and Kyle Blanks followed with a monster blast to left, putting the Padres on top of Matt Cain 3-0. Cain actually swiped first with his foot after receiving an Aubrey Huff toss on the Hudson grounder, but the play was ruled an error, the first of five that evening.
And, though Mat Latos held the Giants hitless for four innings, he threw 74 pitches and walked three over that span. Finally, in the fifth, offensive threat Stewart singled and removed the no-no whammy, and in the sixth, Sandoval singled up the middle and Huff belted a double off the center field wall when Brandon Belt hit a hard grounder right to first baseman Guzman.
Jose picked the ball cleanly and froze for a moment, taking in the scene which included Pablo Sandoval breaking for the plate. The result was too much time to think for the first baseman, because instead of running toward the plate and simply kicking first base on the way, Guzman stared, finally releasing the ball to Nick Hundley. Unfortunately, the ball was a couple of feet to the left of the Padres backstop's glove, and Sandoval and Huff scored with the batter safe at first.
By the end of the inning the score was 5-2 Padres, and Latos was taken out after having tossed 103 pitches, but before that happened the Pads came to the plate.
Orlando Hudson singled and Blanks whiffed, but then Hudson stole second and poor Chris Stewart threw the ball into center, allowing Hudson to move to third. And then, returning the Guzman favor, Jeff Keppinger tried to throw Hudson out at the plate when Hundley hit the ball to short, but Keppinger threw wild and Hudson scored and Hundley wound up on second.
Things sort of quietened down and in the eighth Cain was removed after 108 pitches, but then the bottom of the eighth came, and after Huff flew out, Belt singled and Ross doubled, scoring Belt. Logan Forsythe then booted a ball, moving Ross to third and putting Rowand on first. Then, Hector Sanchez got his first Major League hit and RBI and Ross scored, and then Hudson singled again and Rowand scored.
Over that inning, the Padres went through four pitchers not counting Latos, and the Giants tied the game at five apiece: a great comeback.
So, just like that the score was Padres 7-5, and Heath Bell shut SF down for the win in the ninth.
The nine-inning mess took three hours and twenty minutes, and encompassed 327 pitches, and had everyone in the booth in a sort of awe with the majesty of physical and mental flubs.
The funny thing is that were I simply sitting in the stands watching, I probably would have loved every pitch, thinking this was a perfectly wild and entertaining--if poorly played--game.
Isn't baseball wonderful and strange?