Sunday, June 11, 2017

What A Game ! ! ! : Thursday, September 18th, 1969


CHI 3, PHI 0  W-Selma 11-14 L-Wise 11-15  Selma 11 K's.

NY 4, MON 3  W-Taylor 7-3 L-Waslewski 4-3  S-McGraw(24)  HR-Clendenon 2(24) Staub(30)

STL 6, PIT 3  W-Giusti 4-4 L-Blass 15-8  S-Hoerner(14)  HR-Torre(12)

LA 3, ATL 1  W-Singer 22-8 L-P.Niekro 15-13  HR-Kosco(16)  

CIN 11, SD 3  W-Maloney 19-10  L-J.Niekro 9-14  HR-Tolan(18)

SF 10, HOU 9 (11inns)  W-Herbel 6-3 L-Guinn 0-2  HR-Menke(8) Bonds(23) Hunt(2)  Fuentes 2-out walk-off single.

Two weeks and 68 games to go.

"Why can't you just trust me?!?"
This is where it gets good, ball fans! The Giants faced the Astros at Candlestick, needing a win to keep pace with the Dodgers. The Astros stink but can be dangerous in any given game. Add to that, the Giants had to send the sketchy Mr. Bolin to the hill; despite his 15-10 record, he isn't very reliable. The Astros countered with bullpen reclamation project Wade Blasingame.

"So what if it landed in the front row. I didn't want to hit Uecker!"
Bolin went straight out there and coughed up three singles, punctuated with an error by Ron Hunt. Two runs came across, and only a double play saved the inning for Bob. In the bottom of the first, the fumble-fingered Mister Hunt, known more for being hit with baseballs than for hitting them out of the park, belted his 2nd dinger to cut the score to 2-1. But, behold! Bolin settled down, and the Giants tallied 3 in the 4th and 2 more in the 6th to take a commanding 6-2 advantage. 

The immortal Julio Gotay.
Lookin' good for San Francisco, right? Wrong. Mr. Bolin, despite having advanced to a "C", suddenly remembered who he is after retiring the first two hitters of the 7th. He walked Menke, then hit Rader to put two on. Blefary singled Menke in. Then slump-encrusted Jim Wynn, demoted to the 7th spot in the order, cued one off the end of the bat and busted it down the line. "Safe!" screamed arbiter I.C.Poorlee, because it sounded that way. Rader scored to make it 6-4, but Wynn came up lame and had to depart. At least he got his first rbi of the month. He's day to day. Johnny "Johnny Angel" Edwards greeted new pitcher Ron Bryant, brought in to face the lefty, with a single to make it 6-5, and pinch hitter Julio Gotay knocked in the tying run off of Frank Linzy, although Edwards was gunned down at third to finally end the frame. 6-6!

Drunk with success?
It stayed that way until the top of the ninth when, with Don McMahon on the mound, Doug Rader led off with a single. Curt Blefary doubled, and Tommy Davis, who had replaced Wynn, singled Rader in to make it 7-6 as the home crowd groaned. Davis, giddy with success, took off for second, but was cut down by Dick Dietz, and the rally fizzled from there. Nonetheless, the Astros handed Fred Gladding a lead to protect in the bottom of the 9th.

Is this a confident face, or what?
Ron Hunt, swinging for the fences, struck out, reminding himself to choke up and smack singles. The canny veteran Willie Mays rose to the occasion and hit a mighty fly to left center, which fell and bounced off the fence as Willie motored into third with one out! Reluctant to put the winning run on intentionally, Astro skipper Harry Walker had Gladding pitch to Willie McCovey, who grounded to third. There was nothing Mays could do but get back to the bag and watch McCovey be thrown out for the second out. The air seemed to go out of the crowd. Jim Ray Hart was the last hope for San Franciso. He lined a clean single to center, scoring Mays and causing the home crowd to go wild. 7-7! Dick Dietz struck out, and extra innings (again!) were on tap in San Fran.

"Watch this!"
The joy was short-lived when an exhausted Mr. McMahon--done in not only from all the extra innings lately, but also from handing out sweepstakes prizes--gave up a two-run bomb to Denis Menke in the top of the 10th to give Houston a 9-7 lead. The crowd gnashed their teeth and rent their garments and called McMahon unkind names as Menke circled the sacks. Gladding, given a second chance to close it out, gave up a pinch single to Tito Fuentes to lead off the bottom of the 10th, but he was erased on a double play ball by fellow pinch hitter Bobby "Call me Melissa" Etheridge. Dark clouds blocked the sun as the Giants seemed done. But wait! Clyde King sent up a third straight pinch hitter, little Don Mason, who ripped a double! Up stepped Bobby Bonds, 0-for-5, all strikeouts. Harry Walker stroked his chin and eyed Ron Hunt, an on-base machine, on deck, and decided not to walk the flailing Mr. Bonds and put the tying run on base with Mays and McCovey lurking behind Hunt. BAM! Bonds launched a Gladding pitch into the left field stands and the fans lost their minds! 9-9! Hunt then made the third out, naturally, as Walker did violence to the Gatorade dispenser. 

"I'm too sexy for my sexy that it hurts..."
Ron "Herbal Essence" Herbel, the last man in the Giants bullpen, was made to cut short his totally organic experience and enter the game in the top of the 11th. He disposed of Hector Torres, Marty Martinez and Joe Morgan in order. On came Skip Guinn for the Astros, the man with an e.r.a. above 12, the highest by far in the entire league. Hey, there just wasn't anyone else! He managed to retire Mays, but slap-hitter Willie McCovey dinked a single and was pinch run for by kid flyhawk Dave Marshall. Jim Ray Hart, the hero of the 9th inning, stepped up and the crowd went bananas. Come on, Jim! But he fanned, and everybody moaned. Last chance--Dick Dietz. He took pitch after pitch, fouled off a few, and finally worked a walk, putting runners on first and second for Tito Fuentes, who had stayed in the game at third. Guinn delivered. Fuentes swung and lofted a dying quail into left field. Marshall steamed around third and headed for home, arms and legs pumping as the crowd held its breath and left fielder Marty Martinez scooped up the ball and fired it home. In came the ball. In came Dave Marshall. Plate umpire "Hell" Enkeller leaned forward to get a good look and called Marshall....SAFE! Astro catcher Johnny Edwards spun on his heel in frustration and stared heavenward as the Giants poured out of the dugout to mob Marshall and Fuentes. 10-9 Giants in eleven innings! What a game. The Giants now welcome L.A. into Candlestick for a three game weekend series. Hang on to your hats!

16 HR for Montreal in 2 months, 8 for the Mets in 3.
In other news, Andy Kosco's 3-run jack in the bottom of the first inning sunk Phil Niekro and the Braves, as Bill Singer made it stand up the rest of the way. In Montreal, Donn Clendenon suddenly remembered how to hit home runs, and socked two of them, including a 2-run 9th inning heartbreaker. Nonetheless, a Cardinal victory over the Pirates mathematically eliminated the Mets. One reason I chose to play '69 NL was to see whether I could make them win it again; now I have my answer, a resounding "No!" I don't think anybody could. It was truly a miracle that such a light-hitting crew won a hundred games. But who cares about that? Bring on Dodgers-Giants!