Cruising Into the Second Half

I always hope for a perfect game from the start when I’m watching a baseball game.  Whether it’s from my living room or from the stands, I always have that hope in the back of my mind.  If a game is perfect after even three innings, I’ll text my siblings that we have a perfect game going.  I know this is silliness, but I think perfect games, even no-hitters, are pretty magical.  Just think of all the perfection that has to come into play, both from the pitcher and from the defense behind him, for this rare event to occur.  And one of my biggest baseball dreams is to be in attendance for either a perfect game or a no hitter.  My brother and two of my nieces have had the fortune of experiencing that thrill, being at AT&T Park for Tim Lincecum’s last no hitter.  Well, I may have gotten as close as I’ll ever get this last Sunday as I got to watch Madison throw a near perfect game in person.  I went with my hubby, and we had great field level seats between home plate and first.  Had a perfect view of my boy, and paid homage to him wearing my Bumgarner jersey.  By the 5th inning, you could just feel the tension and excitement building.  Then when Gregor dropped that fly ball (the sun was wicked that day – don’t feel bad, Gregor) and was charged with an error, the perfectness went away.  You can’t have a perfect game with an error, even if it’s not your fault.  Still, the no hitter was on the table.  With every inning he got out of cleanly, the excitement rose in the park.  There were deafening screams and cheers with every out.  He got a standing ovation with every walk back to the dugout.  Then, with one out in the eighth, Jake Lamb hit one to right field and made it to first.  Dreams shattered.  Still, Bum was met with overwhelming and well deserved applause.  After that, he was able to complete the game, allowing only one walk and no other hits.  This was the 4th one-hit game Madison had logged, an accomplishment in itself.  Still waiting for that perfect game or no hitter, but this game was indeed magical nonetheless.  And I’m sure Madison will get that no hitter, if not perfection, someday.

Regarding the seats we had (Section 110), I have to put a warning out there.  This season, the Giants extended the netting at the backstop in order to protect people from flying bats or balls.  The problem is that there is a pole to support the netting, and it can block your view depending on where you’re sitting.  Unfortunately Dan’s view of the batter was blocked by said pole.  Not sure I will sit in those seats again.  Better off being a little closer to first base in sections 109 or 108.  Angel and I sat in 108 last Tuesday, and those seats were perfect – well, except for the fact that there was a pigeon hanging out in the rafters above us.  Luckily he missed us!  Guess being covered doesn’t always provide protection from aerial attack!

Did anyone else watch the homerun derby?  I know a lot of people just ignore it, but there’s just something about seeing a guy hit a homerun.  I always love it.  And this year, Giancarlo Stanton was unbelievable!  He made up for us not being able to watch Madison blast some out of the park.  Stanton hit a total of 61 homeruns during the competition, smashing the previous record set by Bobby Abreu in 2005 of 41.  Five of his homers went 490 feet or more, the longest reaching 497 feet.  Incredible!  And so much fun to watch.  Definitely could have done without Chris Berman’s “BACK, BACK, BACK” calls, though.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this hysterical remix of his calls.  Sounds like he’s channeling a chicken!

My brothers told me that the Giants have some sort of jinx going on with the All-Star game.  They rarely do well.  Unfortunately, my boy Johnny Cueto fell victim to this during this outing.  How did our hero have two guys get knocks off him during that game?  And both were teammates of his last season, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.  Think they have some inside info on how to hit off of him?  Or was it just the excitement and distraction of everything around the All Star game that got to Johnny?  The Giants are having him skip his next scheduled start on Saturday, giving him an extra day to recoup from that insanity.  But I’m sure he’ll be back to his regular self in his next start.  Bum didn’t pitch because he had just pitched that gem on Sunday, but he did get to enjoy all the festivities nonetheless, including being booed by all the San Diego fans (at least they booed the Dodgers players, too).  Buster was the starting catcher and got to work with Johnny at the beginning of the game (making Johnny’s rough outing even more strange – he was pitching to his home boy!).  It was nice to see Buster out there representing us, but the only offense he could muster was a walk.  At least it was better than Brandon Belt, who actually made an appearance in the eighth inning but flew out to left field.  Not a reflection on Brandon, though, because the pitcher he matched up against, Yankees reliever Andrew Miller (who happens to be on the Giants reliever radar), was totally dealing.  Even the broadcasters were commenting that they were surprised he could even connect with one of those pitches.  Not a very good showing for my boys.  Then they had to keep bringing up the fact that the only grand slam ever allowed in an All Star game came off of Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker.  Sheesh!  Poor Giants!

Speaking of Brandon Belt, that kid was so thrilled to be going to his first All Star game.  The Giants front office put out an aggressive ad campaign to get Belt in during the final-vote runoff.  That campaign included this video, one of my all-time favorite Giants productions.  Be sure to check out the website, too – it’s real and hysterical!  Anyway, to thank the front office for all their hard work, Brandon and his wife, Haley, bought pizza for the entire front office, 34 in all.  He was constantly thanking them whenever he was being interviewed about the All Star game, and kept saying he wouldn’t be there without them.  He also wouldn’t be there without his wife.  If you haven’t already, you have got to read his latest blog installment.  It brought me to tears.  In fact, I just reread it, and I’m crying again! Lends some insight into the support team behind every player.  Here’s the link.  Very glad he’s appreciative of her.

Sounds like we’ll be getting some key players back in the lineup and on the mound soon.  Hunter Pence could start a rehab assignment as soon as Saturday, and Joe Panik may start as early as Sunday.  The expected dates for return to the bigs for the two are July 25th for Hunter and July 22nd for Joe.  YAY!  Matt Duffy, on the other hand, is not expected to return soon.  He’s still recovering from an injured Achilles, and the Giants are giving him more time to get back.  Matt Cain is also due to return soon.  He allowed 2 runs over 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start in Sacramento.  He’s scheduled to have one more rehab start and then possibly return to the team July 19th.  It’s really amazing that with all these significant losses to the roster, the boys have been able to continue to compete at a high level, garnering the highest win total in all of baseball at this point in the season (57 and 33).  Love my boys!

I have another installment of “Angel’s Question” for you.  Angel was wondering if, when a manger pulls out a pitcher and he walks to the mound to take the ball, is he required to do that, or is it done out of respect for the pitcher?  I looked it up, and the manager is not required to take the ball away from the pitcher.  I guess that’s just baseball tradition.  When a new pitcher comes in, it is not typically announced to the home plate umpire (unless there is a double switch).  In this case, MLB rule 3.08 applies.  It states, “If no announcement of a substitution is made, the substitute shall be considered to have entered the game when, if a pitcher, he takes a position on the pitcher’s plate.”  No mention of the manager initiating the switch.  I think it’s nice that the manager comes out, though, and it definitely shows respect.  Thanks for another great question, Angel!

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here yet, but come Monday I’m embarking on a Giant adventure.  My two brothers, my sister and I are going to be following the Giants to New York and Boston, plus we’ll be attending a game in Philadelphia just to cross it off my list of parks.  I am SOOOOOOOOO excited!  So if I don’t update this for a while, you’ll know what I’m up to.  Look for my sister and I on the broadcast of the July 22nd game vs. the Yankees.  We’ll be sitting in the Finnerty’s section with all the other crazies.  Can’t wait!

Madison takes the mound again tonight in San Diego to begin the second half of the season.  At least he and the other Giants All Stars didn’t have to travel far!  I’m sure he’s going to be fabulous tonight, and considering he’s going against the Padres, who knows what magic might happen!  Keep this amazing streak of happiness going for us, Boys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

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