Results tagged ‘ Marco Scutaro ’
It’s not exactly the Torture of 2010, but this 2012 version can take you on a pretty good roller coaster ride.
If you watched today’s game, you know what I mean. We scored four in the first then kind of went on cruise control and blew the lead. But lately we have this knack of getting a hit or a walk or a hit-by-pitch in the eighth or ninth inning – and suddenly it’s like a switch has been flipped.
Today we were down 8-5 with two outs in the eighth, and Hector Sanchez hit a double. And everything changed.
I followed up with a double, scoring Hector and closing the gap to 8-6. Belt came in to pinch hit. He hit a single to drive me in: 8-7.
In the ninth, Scutaro doubled. Then Buster doubled him in: 8-8.
People say hitting is contagious. I know it makes no sense at all, but I believe it because that’s our team. (Of course, it can be contagious in the other direction, too. Nobody hits, so nobody hits.)
In the tenth I led off with an infield chopper that I barely beat out. And with two outs, I scored the winning run on Scutaro’s walk-off hit down the left field line. I loved watching Scutaro racing around the field, trying to get away from Pablo, me and the rest of the mob chasing him. I don’t blame him for running – when I hit that walk-off against the Padres, I got crushed. Scutaro was yelling at Pablo in Spanish as Pablo grabbed him, and we all piled on. I guess we should be thinking about the possibility of injury, but everyone’s so happy after a walk-off we never even think about it.
What’s different about this team right now is that key hits and runs are coming from every spot in the order. I take my job in the No. 8 hole as seriously as Buster takes his job hitting clean-up.
Hitting eighth is hard. You can ask anybody. Hitting eighth in the National League is one of the toughest spots to hit. If there’s nobody out and nobody on, a pitcher is going to pitch you the same as everybody else. But if there are guys in scoring position, you have to expand the strike zone a little bit because the pitcher’s on deck. It’s up to you to drive those runners in. So you want to put the ball in play, even if you don’t get the perfect pitch. But you don’t want to expand the strike zone too much and find yourself flailing at bad pitches. It’s a fine line.
On another topic, you might have noticed I am no longer the Wolverine. I know the TV cameras caught me in the dugout in Houston running my fingers up through my beard and trying to poof it out and see how big it was. Some of the guys were telling me I should keep growing it. But when I went 0-for Houston, I thought it was time for a trim. So the clipper came out. And tonight I got three hits, so I think I’ll keep it trimmed, even though I hate to shave.
It’s been fun to watch the replays of my catch of Pablo’s flip in foul territory in our first game in Houston. It’s been Number 1 on Best Plays of the Week on ESPN, even beating out Felix Hernandez’s perfect game. Fans said a perfect game had been done before, but they’d never seen a play like that. I’ve watched it a bunch of times myself, and I enjoy it as much as any fan. I still can’t tell you how it happened. I saw Pablo falling backward, so I thought the ball might come out of his glove. And then he came forward – and the ball flipped into the air. It was just one of those things that you just react to it.
Here’s another thing from that Houston series I had never seen before: An outfielder nearly trampling an infielder to catch a cut-off throw. Pagan threw from deep center field, and I had just caught the ball when Blanco – who was trying to catch the cut-off throw — crashed into me and we both went tumbling.
The closest thing I’ve seen to that is Manny Ramirez back in the day when he was in Boston. Johnny Damon throws the ball in from center, and Manny Ramirez for some reason dives and cuts the ball off – even though it was heading right to the shortstop. Manny then turns around and throws it to the shortstop. For no reason. Manny being Manny.
I asked Gregor in the dugout what he was thinking: Why would you try to catch a cut-off throw? He said the throw was so off-line that he didn’t think I’d be able to reach it. I told him, “With me, you’ll never have to cut a ball off.’’ I know our outfielders’ arms – who has strong and not-so-strong arms — and know where to situate myself for the cutoff.
Baseball fans often say they come to the park every day because they’re going to see something they’ve never seen before. That is absolutely true for players, too. It’s what makes baseball so fun. You never know what a teammate – or you — might do. It could be something that will never be seen ever again. Sometimes, of course, that’s a good thing.
When I got home from AT&T after we beat the Mets last Tuesday, Jalynne and her sister Jamie were watching the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team on TV. Watching Olympic gymnastics with them is a little like watching the Super Bowl with Eli and Peyton Manning. Jalynne competed in gymnastics at UCLA and Jamie was on the U.S. Olympic team that won the bronze in Sydney eight years ago.
I’d be admiring some incredible performance and thinking the girl nailed it, and they’d say, “Oh no, she messed up right there.’’ It’s amazing to me that Jalynne and Jamie actually could do the things that these gymnasts were doing. If I trained all my life, I couldn’t do what they did every day in the gym.
But they’re nice enough to tell me they could never do what I do on the baseball field. I’d like to believe them.
I’ve been watching as much of the Olympics as I can at home, in the clubhouse and on the plane. The long-distance runners, the sprinters, the swimmers – I love seeing the very best in the world pushing themselves beyond what you think is possible. I was sitting on the plane from Colorado to St. Louis the other day, and all the guys around me were watching the Olympics, too – Cain, Javy, Buster, Pill, Zito. Gymnastics happened to be on and one of the girls on vault landed on her face, and you heard everybody all at once go “Oooohhhhhh!’’ There are not a lot of face-plants in baseball.
On another topic, it was tough to see Manny Burriss pack up and leave. When we got Marco Scutaro, Manny figured he’d be the odd man out. It’s hard saying goodbye to any teammate, but this is the first time I’ve had to say goodbye to a teammate who was one of my closest friends on the team. It reminds you how special it is to be in the major leagues and how hard you have to keep working to stay as long as you can. Fortunately Manny’s still with the organization and I’ll see him again in spring training or if he’s called back up.
Having said that, it’s good to have Scutaro and Hunter Pence join the club. They’re both real pros who go about their business in a professional way. Our clubhouse has a pretty unique group of guys, so the tone in here is not going to change. Marco and Hunter add experience and depth, which will help down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Yesterday, one of our trainers was trying out Buster Bash, a mobile-app baseball game that has just come out. It’s animated along the lines of Angry Birds. A pitcher throws the ball and you hit it by flicking your finger. As you go up each level, you go through Posey’s career path from Wiffle Ball to high school, college and the pros. I tried it and did pretty well. Maybe I’ll challenge Buster to a game.
Heading out to the ballpark now. Let’s hope we can get some more runs for Zito tonight than we did for Cain last night.
I’ll see you when I get back to the Bay Area this weekend. Thanks for reading.