On Saturday night, the Giants' AAA affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, played an 18-inning game against the Angels's AAA team, the Salt Lake Bees. kdl and I were there. Here are lots of observations.
Beginning: Once upon a time, this game went pretty quickly. Ty Blach started and, after giving up a run early (it would have been more, but Juan Perez had a nice outfield assist to get a runner trying to take third), settled down to have a very Ty Blach start: no walks, a few strikeouts, and a lot of ground balls. Roger Kieschnick, DHing for the Bees, struck out twice and grounded into a double play against Blach.
During the top of the first, a report went around that Adam Duvall had been pulled from the River Cats lineup because he was being called up to the Giants. I found this strange since, well...
The report was retracted. I had Made It as a serious journalist.
The River Cats scored their first two runs in the second inning. Adam Duvall doubled to left with two outs, and he was followed by Jarrett Parker and Ronny Cedeno each hitting an opposite-field double of his own. Those were nice pieces of hitting. Very, very nice pieces of hitting, which would not be repeated for more than five hours.
But in the 7th inning, disaster struck, and then struck again, and then pretty much just kept windmilling its arms and telling us if we got hit it was our own fault. First, the Bees tied the game on a double, single, and sac fly off of Blach. Roger Kieschnick came up next, and hit a foul ball that caught Andrew Susac in the right hand, forcing him to leave the game and making Giants fans everywhere wail plaintively. And then, and worst of all (I can be flippant about Susac's injury because it turned out to not be serious), during the 7th inning stretch one of the guys who was collecting recyclables started The Wave, and it went around the entire stadium. Twice. It was a dark time.
8th-9th innings: Mike Broadway comes in for the River Cats. Haven't heard of him? Then you didn't read our tweets in yesterday's Minor Lines, you monster. But when he came in, Broadway overpowered the Bees. It was like watching a polar bear fight a taco. His dominance was unfair. He gave up a single to lead off the 8th and a fly ball in the 9th, and when he gave up the fly ball, I was shocked that anyone made contact, since, other than those two batters, he struck out everyone he faced, including Roger Kieschnick once. I think this tweet sums things up:
I wish Jose Mijares was still in the Giants bullpen so I could demand they cut him and call up Mike Broadway— groug (@moonwalkmcfly) April 12, 2015
On the offensive side of things, everything was woe and tragedy, which as a Giants fan, we're all pretty used to. Darren Ford and Juan Perez both struck out in the 8th, bringing their respective batting averages to .000 for the season. Guillermo Quiroz and Adam Duvall each singled in the 9th, but Jarrett Parker grounded out with two outs to strand them. On to extras!
10th-11th innings: Steven Okert comes in. I, still stinging from my failure to accurately predict the winner of the Harry S Jordan Award – hell, I didn't even correctly predict the name of the award – root very hard for him to make me look less stupid. And he does! He gets through the 10th pretty easily (at one point he strikes out Roger Kieschnick), runs into a bit of trouble in the 11th, but gets through it and completes two scoreless innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, Juan Ciriaco singles with one out, steals second, and moves to third on a poor throw from the catcher. The Bees bring their left fielder in to play infield in order to prevent the winning run from scoring. This is tense. We are excited. Then we remember Darren Ford is up. We are no longer excited. This is the correct feeling. Ford strikes out. Juan Perez is up! We are not excited. He walks! That's not terrible, and now we're getting to the heart of the order, the 3-4-5 guys.
Travis Ishikawa started at first base on a rehab assignment, but since he left the game and the ballpark and possibly the city after the 7th, the third place hitter is Carlos Triunfel. Carlos Triunfel flies out. In the bottom of the 11th, Adam Duvall gets an infield single, which is fun. This is fun. We're having fun. Who even needs any other hitter this inning to make contact, because this is fun.
Top of the 12th! kdl and I SWOOP to better seats in the front row. The stadium is pretty empty now. Curtis Partch comes in to pitch. He strikes out former Rockie Josh Rutledge, then faces Roger Kieschnick, who hits a foul ball that hits off of Guillermo Quiroz. How many catchers are you going to hurt, Roger? HOW MANY? Anyway, Quiroz is fine, and then Kieschnick strikes out.
Nothing interesting happens in the bottom of the 12th. Darren Ford strikes out to end it. His night so far: groundout, popout, groundout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. Juan Perez flies out to lead off the bottom of the 13th. His night so far: popout, reached on an error, strikeout, strikeout, walk, fly out. This is someone who legitimately could have made a major league roster this year.
The 13th inning is when we started to get a little loopy. Losing a small part of our sanity was essential to keeping the rest of it. At least, that's what we tell ourselves.
After Partch gets the first out of the 14th, Clay Rapada comes in. I forgot Clay Rapada was in the Giants organization this year. He's a lefty submariner. That's pretty neat! He gets two outs. Everyone just gets outs. Do the hitters know they are supposed to not make outs? I honestly don't know at this point.
Did you know that during long baseball games, they do a 14th inning stretch? Now you do!
John Bowker leads off the bottom of the 14th with a double, and by "double" I mean he hits a ball almost to the wall, which should be a double, but he's slow so he's thrown out at second, but the umpire misses the call. Double! And with Adam Duvall coming up, no less, also known as "the only good hitter in the lineup." Adam Duvall strikes out looking and lets the umpire (and fans) know that he made the wrong call. Strangely, this does not change the outcome of the at-bat. All hope is lost. Life has no meaning. Jarrett Parker then strikes out with a man on second, which is what writers call a "motif", and then the Bees intentionally walk Ronny Cedeno, which is just the most bizarre damn part of a bizarre game, and after that crushing insult, Juan Ciriaco justifies it by striking out.
At this point, the River Cats have set a team record by striking out 20 times in a game. We're all so proud.
Between innings, a trainer comes jogging from the clubhouse to the dugout and mentions to a security guard that Andrew Susac's x-rays look "ok." I almost tweet this to several Giants beat writers, but then decide there's not enough firsthand knowledge for it to be interesting. I will rue this for the rest of my days. I coulda had a SCOOP, dammit.
Inning 15: Roger Kieschnick leads off against Rapada and decides to change things up by striking out. In the bottom of the inning, the 9 people sitting in the first couple rows of Section 120 also decide to change things up and yell really positive encouragement at Darren Ford. Darren Ford then flies out. Dammit.
Inning 16: Carlos Triunfel is bored. He is so, so, bored. He came in to play third base when Ishikawa left the game in the 8th, and nothing has happened. He spent part of the 15th just kinda staring over at our section between pitches, and now, in the 16th, when he fields a ball in foul territory he tosses it to some of the kids nearby. They are in awe, so many of us yell out "Thank you, Carlos!" He gives a slight wave of acknowledgement. We have now made a new friend. We feel very cool.
Between innings, some of the lights at Raley Field start to shut down. The concourse gets much darker, and the boards that sit between the decks of the stadium with the count and number of outs just go dark. First, Travis Ishikawa left. Then, offense abandoned us. Then electricity started to back out. This is worrying. We talk to the two families near us during the inning. It turns out, they're staying because they have kids and it's a fireworks night. One of them gets up to use the bathroom.
At the end of the bottom of the 16th, Adam Duvall strikes out, and he is mad. He slams his helmet into the ground and just stands at home plate, seething. The bat boy is scared to approach him. I would be too.
Inning 17: The guy next to us comes back. I tell him I thought he'd escaped. He tells us that there is no escape; we are trapped in limbo with only our regrets, souls mourning the unfinished business they have on Earth. Or he says that he was getting hot chocolate. I dunno, it's a little fuzzy.
In the top of the inning, Hunter Strickland sets down the side in order. Roger Kieschnick grounds out. It wasn't a strikeout! Good job, Roger! This character arc has resulted in some nice growth.
Jarrett Parker starts the bottom of the 17th by fouling out to right field. Gosh, he can't hit anything, we say, in an instance of "ironic foreshadowing". But then the River Cats put a little bit of a rally together. Ronny Cedeno singles and steals second base. We implore Juan Ciriaco to drive him in. Darren Ford is up next. DARREN FORD. Juan Ciriaco responds by fouling out to first base. We are disappoint. We roll our eyes and await Ford's impending out.
The count is 1-2 after three pitches. We know what's coming. Ford fouls off a pitch, takes a close one for a ball. We know what's coming. He swings and hits one between short and third. Darren Ford is fast, at least. He is definitely fast. He sprints down the line as hard as he can after playing baseball for five hours. The third baseman reaches the ball and makes the throw to first. Ford races down the line. SAFE.
Darren Ford got a hit? DARREN FORD GOT A HIT. Is that it? Do we win? I know it's still 2-2 with men on first and third, but that's a moral victory. That counts in the standings, right?
No. On the third pitch, Juan Perez fouls out to first. He's now 0-for-7 with a walk. It's on to the 18th, but...
Inning 18: Look, there's no way to say this that makes us look good. Earlier in the day, kdl invited her parents for breakfast on Sunday at 9:00. This was an idea that came early in the day, when we mistakenly thought the game would have a 1:00 start. The game got late. We lost faith. We wanted to get some sleep before preparing food. So we left. And so, of course, Brett Bochy gave up three runs in the top of the 18th (he gave up a solo homer as we were leaving, making us confident that we were making the right choice) and then Jarrett Parker hit a walk-off grand slam off the Bees' backup catcher. Jarrett Parker, who had failed numerous times with runners in scoring position. Jarrett Parker, who will receive a World Series ring. Jarrett Parker, who crawled through a river of oh shit this Shawshank reference is Grant's thing I don't want to steal it. This was the literal opposite of the Ryan Spilborghs game. And we heard it on the radio. Let that be a lesson to us.
At least the breakfast was delicious.