Results tagged ‘ Javier Lopez ’
I know the last two days against the Dodgers haven’t shown it, and we’re dealing with injuries to key guys, but we feel really strong starting the second half of the season. That 14-inning game in Philadelphia told you everything you need to know about this team: We battle. It’s kind of our signature since at least the 2012 post-season. Whether we’re struggling through a few-week stretch or a six-hour game, we fight.
I was happy to get that double in the top of the 14th to put us ahead. But I would have been happy with anybody getting a hit at that point. I received a lot of the credit after the game, but Buster’s home run in the ninth to tie the game was just as big or bigger than mine. Papelbon hadn’t given up a home run all season. And the bullpen was awesome — eight innings and they gave up only one run.
I’ve joked — well, I’m actually kind of serious — about wanting to pitch sometime in a game. But I knew Bochy had to go with Colvin or Blanco if the Phillies had tied it up in the bottom of the 14th and we went to the 15th. There were no position players left on the bench, so Timmy — who pitched the 14th — would have had to stay in the game and play the field. There’s no way Bochy could let me pitch and put Timmy at shortstop. He’d have to play in the outfield, so that meant either Colvin or Blanco would have to pitch. Luckily, it didn’t come to that.
You might have read about the virus or whatever that’s been lingering in the clubhouse for what seems like months now. I’ve had it at least a month if not more, and it’s finally gone. I think Miami shook it out of me. Or maybe it was the All-Star break. I spent the break very quietly, as I mentioned I would in my last post. I saw my grandma one day. Another day we went to Buster’s to hang out and let the kids play. Braylyn, who’s a year and a half, is still a little new to playing with other kids because she hasn’t had many opportunities. But she was good with Buster and Kristen’s twins, who are three. Javy and Renee Lopez were also there with their two kids — their son is almost two and their daughter is four, I think. (I’m not good at guessing ages.) Braylyn would go play with something and want to play by herself. Then she’d join the other kids. She loved the pool. Buster grilled up some hot dogs and hamburgers. It was just a really great, relaxing summer day. When you have so few off days, you really appreciate each one, especially the ones that aren’t crammed with errands and appointments.
So since have some down time during All-Star break, I’ve been feeling much better at the plate. My first at-bat in Miami was maybe my best at-bat all season. I stayed in against Eovaldi for 10 pitches before hitting a two-run homer on the 11th pitch, a 97-mph fastball. I was happy to fight off some pretty good pitches then square up like that. I hit balls hard in the series even if they didn’t translate into hits all the time. When I feel like that at the plate, I know the hits will start to come.
Playing the Dodgers this weekend got me thinking about my favorite Dodgers-Giants memories from when I was a kid. I kind of remember the Brian Johnson game in 1997 when he hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning to sweep the Dodgers and move into a tie for first place. I’m pretty sure I was at Candlestick for the game that day, but I was really young so I don’t remember it well.
The moment I really remember from the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is kind of unusual. It was a single at-bat. Bonds was facing Cy Young winner Eric Gagne. It was early in the 2004 season. The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 in the ninth. One out. Runner at first. I was at the game with my dad. Gagne was throwing 100 mph fastballs, one after another. Every player not on the field hung over the dugout rails watching power against power.
Bonds fouled the first pitch past the Dodgers dugout.
Then he took a called strike inside — 99 mph.
Ball inside — 100 mph.
Foul into the stands behind the plate.
Towering foul into McCovey Cove off a 101-mph fastball.
Then Gagne threw another fastball — 100 mph this time. Bonds hit it into the center field bleachers.
I thought, “Wow.’’ Bonds just kept battling. The Giants lost, but I’ll never forget that at-bat.
(Full disclosure: I looked up the exact pitch sequence. I didn’t remember every single pitch.)
What’s your favorite Giants-Dodgers moment?
July 27, 2014
With Belt on the DL, we’re taking turns filling in, so here I am. I’m not a social media guy. I don’t do Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever else is out there. But I thought it might be interesting to tell you a little about the bullpen.
Relievers are kind of a family within a family. Like our own band of brothers. We know we’ll be facing some pretty stressful situations later in the game, so in the early innings we keep things really loose and light-hearted. We’ll bring up some topic — maybe current events, something that happened the night before, something in the game at the moment — and we get the banter going.
Let’s say Santiago Casilla made a nice play on a come-backer the night before. He’s normally not a great fielder, so we start making fun of him for that. And he gets playfully defensive about it.
You can imagine the field day we had with Machi after his bunt in Pittsburgh. We all know he’s a good athlete even if he doesn’t look it, but we kidded him about not knowing how to hold the bat and about chugging down the baseline to first. Casilla promptly said he was faster than Machi, and Machi countered that not only was he faster than Casilla, he was the fastest in the bullpen.
I chime in and say I can take either of them. So someone says, “OK, we’ll have a footrace.’’
You’ll be relieved to know cooler heads prevailed. One of us would have gotten hurt, no question. (This is where I could take a cheap shot at Affeldt, but you’re already thinking it so I don’t have to.)
In any event, Machi was upset he didn’t get a hit on the bunt.
“A hit?’’ we said. “The ball beat you to the bag! How is that a hit?’’
You get the idea.
This is a different bullpen than I’ve been a part of. It’s very international with a lot of Venezuelans. There are no cliques. That’s one of the things that makes it pretty special. We spend some time learning English, some time learning Spanish. Casilla is one of my favorites because he genuinely tries to learn English. He’s always learning a couple of new phrases, and he has a few he goes to all the time.
The Venezuelan guys tell a lot of stories about the winter league down there. Machi told me Panda doesn’t talk in the Venezuelan league. He is not vocal at all, contrary to the singing, laughing character we see (and hear) in our locker room. Machi said it’s because there’s a pretty strict hierarchy down there, and Panda’s still considered a young guy. I found this hard to believe, but Gutierrez and Petit said it was true.
It’s kind of the reverse for Machi here: He doesn’t have a lot of time in the big leagues, so he doesn’t talk a lot. He’s talkative around us, but if you were to walk into the locker room he’s a pretty quiet guy.
Another thing I didn’t know that I learned in the bullpen: Even though Machi has been a closer in Venezuela for four years, he didn’t have a save in the big leagues. I had just assumed last year he must have gotten one with us at some point. (Shows you how much I really remember about our games.) He already had five wins but he really, really wanted a save in the big leagues. And he got one during the last road trip in LA. To see him do it, knowing how much it meant to him, was pretty neat.
So all this talking among the relievers is great, but what if there is no bullpen, like here at AT&T Park? The joking and laughing don’t go over real well in the dugout. We have to be kind of careful. At the start of the game, we park ourselves at the far left of the dugout, up by the rail. The coaches are at the opposite end, and the position players are usually on the bench against the wall.
At some point, we usually make our way to a small room at the bottom of the stairs (behind the dugout), where we can watch the game on TV and not bother anyone.
I don’t want you to think we don’t talk about baseball. We talk about situations that might have come up the previous night, and maybe there’s a similar situation today and Bochy has decided to go with a different pitcher. We’ll talk about different strategies and ask each other what we’d do against this hitter or that one. It’s always good to have Plan A but sometimes you need Plan B, C and D. So it’s nice to bounce stuff off each other.
The best thing about our bullpen is that we realize we’re in this together, and we have each other’s backs.
Thanks for reading. Now when you see a shot of us on TV in the early innings, you know we’re enjoying each other’s company and keeping things loose. Until the bullpen phone rings and everything changes.
It’s been a week already since I was in Napa with Haley. It was awesome. We went to Black Stallion winery on Silverado Trail. They were Giants fans so they took really good care of us. Then we went to Il Posto Trattoria and I had the best chicken parmigiana. It was such a relaxing time and really great to spend time with Haley. During the season, you never have enough time with your family, so you really appreciate the time you do have.
Neither one of us knows anything about wine, but we have a great time bumbling through and trying not to embarrass ourselves too much. Everyone’s really nice about explaining how the wine is made and what to pay attention to in the different kinds of wine. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a big wine drinker, but Haley and I both love it up there. I think the wine country will be an annual getaway for us.
As you know, it’s been a really uneven start to the season for us. With the injuries and some of us scrapping a bit more than usual, Angel Pagan called a players-only meeting on Friday. He talked about how we’re a good ball team that knows how to win and that if we keep playing hard, things are going to start going our way.
Then other players spoke. Buster, Melky (with Angel translating), Huff. Javy Lopez. A lot of the veterans. (Buster is like a veteran even though he’s so young.) They reassured the younger players that even though you might be struggling now, it’s a long season and you’re going to get on track. Don’t let your struggles affect your confidence.
I think it helped. As a young player, when things are going bad, your mind can start racing. You’re thinking, “Maybe I should be doing this. Maybe I should be doing that. What should I be doing different?’’
So the veterans were telling us to just step back and take a deep breath and get some perspective. There’s still a lot of season left to play. We can still make up ground. They reminded us to just work hard every day. Trust what got you here. Stick together. Be a team.
It was great to have just the players in there because we know it’s up to us. Bochy can have the best strategies in the world but it’s up to us to execute. We have to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played – the way we know we can play it.
We can’t wait to get into Dodger Stadium.