Sunday, July 12, 2009


The No-No

I've never come close to witnessing a Giants no-hitter. Never. I was born six years after John Montefusco turned the trick. I remember Shawn Estes and Mark Gardner coming close, and have vague memories of Mike Pagliarulo breaking up a Trevor Wilson no-hitter late in a game in 1990. I was working late when Matt Cain carried a couple no-nos late in game a couple of years ago, so I missed even that chance to watch that heartbreak.

On the other hand, I've seen the Giants get no-hit more often than I care to mention. I watched Kevin Brown dominate them in '97, then saw Kevin Millwood no-hit them six years later. I remember Kevin Gross (?!) no-hitting them once, and also Terry Mulholland (?!?!) like a year after the Giants traded him for Steve Bedrosian. Mike Scott famously no-hit them to clinch the NL West championship in 1986. So since I've been alive on this planet the Giants have always been the no-hit victims, not the ones dishing out the zeroes.

That all changed Friday night. Until the moment the final out was recorded, I refused to believe that Jonathan Sanchez was actually going to become the first Giant in over 30 years to throw a no-hitter. With every strike one fastball poured down the plate, with every befuddled Padre batter death-marching back to the dugout, with every nasty slider that hit a cluelessly swinging Kevin Kouzmanoff in the shin, I still told myself that, no, I'd seen this before, and I was destined to be disappointed. I wasn't going to answer the siren song of getting my hopes up. Hell, it happened the night before with Tim Lincecum!

Except that Sanchez didn't disappoint. The Padres couldn't touch him until the bitter end and he finished off one of the most spectacular pitching performances I've ever seen by a Giants pitcher. I mean, it's one thing to throw a no-hitter where you strike out like four guys and your defense makes all the plays behind you. Sanchez was just completely dominant, with one of the filthiest sliders going that you'll ever see. It was enough to bring a tear to a poor, beleaguered Giants fan's eye.

A lot of us had been down on Sanchez for a while now. He's always had the potential and the stuff to do something like this, but he's always been undone by awful control. After his early season problems, I personally was ready to give up on him ever turning his talent into something worthwhile. Oops.

Krukow had mentioned that Dave Righetti had had Sanchez tweak his mechanics a little (he's bringing his front leg back further), and apparently that paid immediate dividends. So one week Sanchez has me pondering the career potential of Ryan Sadowski, the next he has me jumping up and down and yelling like an idiot in front of the TV. Baseball is a crazy game. I guess it's safe to say that Sanchez has his rotation spot back for good.

--Aaron Rowand may have completely justified his contract with that leaping grab in the ninth inning of Sanchez's no-hitter. When I saw the arc of that ball, I nearly had a heart attack.

--Funny story. When the game was over, a friend of mine tried to send me a text that said "Damn Uribe", in reference to Uribe's error, which prevented Sanchez from completing a perfect game. However, his iPhone's autotext read the message as "Damn Urine", and that's what I received. I replied by saying that that Urine guy sucks, too.

I don't get angry at Uribe for that play. It was a tough short-hop that would have handcuffed almost anybody. If it had been an easy bouncer with a true hop, then maybe it'd be fair to get mad at him.

--The Giants seem totally incapable of finishing off a sweep of any kind. Today Bad Zito made his triumphant return and the Pads salvaged one game in the series. Screw being humble, I wanted blood! I wanted a four-game sweep and that much more momentum going into the All-Star Break.

Oh well. The Giants end the first half with 49 wins and are on pace to go 90-72 and win the Wild Card. There are still some issues to deal with, like adding another power bat, but damn, this has been some fun!

--What's up with Eliezer Alfonzo suddenly acting like a total douche? Did the Giants do something to piss him off? I mean, other than not re-signing him because they realized he sucked and was a steroid cheat?

Today ol' Notgardo flipped his bat after launching a home run in the 3rd, then tried to pick Bengie Molina off at second the late innings of a 9-1 game. I mean, the latter isn't heinous or anything, but give me a break. I think Bengie had some words for him a little later. As for the former...methinks if you're a crappy second-string catcher on a horrible 100-loss team, you shouldn't be doing bat flips in the batter's box. To wit: that home run was sandwiched around three strikeouts.

--The Giant Panda Screw Job (that's what I'm calling the All-Star Game this year. I mean, Zach Duke? Ryan Franklin?? They couldn't squeeze Pablo in there somewhere?) festivities start tomorrow. We'll take a look at some of the MVPs of the first half and some of those who, um, aren't living up to their contracts.

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