Thursday, August 23, 2012

Giants sweep Dodgers, I survive Dodger Stadium

I decided to bring my wife and 2 boys to the Giants-Dodgers game last night, won by SF 8-4.  I originally had tickets for the Monday Bumgarner-Kershaw matchup.  But seeing as Cain was set to pitch vs Capuano for Wed, I traded for Wed's tix, figuring it was the best odds-on chance to see a W.  Plus, I wanted to see the perfect game pitcher do his thing.  Who'd have thought it was going to be a sweep?  (And isn't a little ironic that Bumgarner put in the best Giants pitching performance of the 3 SF starters?)

The Giants (69-55) went from 0.5 games back to 2.5 up in the NL West.  The Dodgers (67-58) also have 3 more losses in the books.  But, there are around 35 games left in the season, much too early to panic either way.

I hadn't been back to Dodger Stadium since the Stow-incident last year and I haven't been there for a Giants-Dodgers game in many years.  Back when I moved to LA in '97, we used to sit in the left-field pavilion all the time and see Bonds hit bombs.  Now I can't believe we were so naive as to be out there in Giants gear.  The criminal element has made the left and right field pavilions like a penitentiary - isolated from general population for a reason.  You wouldn't believe the behavior of many of those fans.  I've also been up in the highest section (3rd level balcony) in years past, and Dodger security was scarce as well as powerless to stop anything.  All I know is that Dodger stadium was the only place where I've ever had glass bottles thrown at me - and I would never be mistaken for an obnoxious, outspoken fan.

But yesterday was the safest I've ever felt at Dodger stadium.  I've never seen so many police at a game.  Granted, I sat in great seats in the 1st level behind home plate (row W), where the crowd is much more respectful and I had a parking pass in the closest possible lot.  But even during the game, there was no heckling and no animosity.  Just home fans cheering their own team and a good size contingent of the visiting team fans doing the same.  Just as sports should be.

Of course, it probably helped that the Giants got off to a great start again, taking the crowd out of the game right from the first at-bat.  (The smooth vocals of Shawn Stockman's national anthem undoubtedly helped to mellow everyone out too).  Angel Pagan got a lead-off hit for the 3rd straight game (2 of 3 hits were doubles) and in each game, Giants hitters brought Pagan home.  The Dodgers never had a single at-bat in this home series where they weren't already behind.

But the 2 big stars in this game were Matt Cain and Joaquin Arias.  I expected a strong game from Cain, who followed through with a solid 7 innings, 7 hits, 5 strikeouts, no walks, 1 run performance.  Incidentally, on Monday, Bumgarner threw a masterful 8 scoreless innings, 4 hits, 10 strikeouts, with no walks.  (Lincecum allowed 5 hits in 5.2 innings, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts and 1 run).  In 3 games, Giants starters allowed just 2 runs and just 1 walk.

Joaquin Arias was the big surprise of the night.  He finished with a career-high 5 RBIs, including 2 doubles and a 1st inning 2-run homer.  Any Giant that homers at Dodger Stadium while I'm in attendance deserves to be immortalized forever.  Arias alone was responsible for more runs than the Dodgers could muster on the night.

And the most memorable moment may have been Justin Christian's sprinting-diving catch in the 7th inning in deep left-field robbing Ellis of what was probably going to be a no-out RBI (Cruz was on 1st).  Considering the Dodgers scored 3 runs in the next inning, who knows what may have transpired without that crucial out.  They actually replayed the catch on the Jumbotron and even Dodger fans clapped in respect.

And that is what I'll take away from that game.  The mutual respect shown by fans of both sides (aside from the elderly Giant fan standing silently to wave a mini-broom when the Giants scored their 8th run, ha), the police presence (I love me some po-po), and a great night had by all those adorned in black and orange - including my boys (3 hours, lots of snacks - no problem).

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