If you’ve ever played baseball at any level, be it A-ball, high school, or little league – there are a few things that coaches beat into your brains until they become second nature. Never make the first or last out at third base. Move over the runner at every opportunity. Use two hands to catch the ball. Never go to third on a ball hit in front of you.
I think Aubrey Huff forgot that one tonight.
But it paid off.
In the top of the 7th, Huff stood at second base in a 0-0 duel. Maybe it was a brain fart. Maybe it was a calculated risk. But whatever it was, it proved to be one of the biggest plays in the 2010 San Francisco Giants season.
Jose Guillen hit a ground ball a little to the right of the shortstop (it wasn’t a routine grounder straight at him, but very manageable), so it caused Padres shortstop Miguel Tejada to range towards third base a few steps. Aubrey Huff decided it was his moment to shine. Huff went full speed ahead to third, catching Tejada’s eye who threw a laser (though a bit wide) to third. It was a bang, bang play. The umpire makes the safe call and what looked to be about 15,000 Giant fans filling Petco went nuts.
It was an incredibly close play – it really could have gone either way considering, but after looking at the replay a few more times it does appear to have been the right call. I’m not even sure Lasik could have helped somebody in that situation, so, I’m thanking my lucky stars we didn’t get shafted. Huff later admitted he made a poor choice, but, it worked out.
But even with that drama unfolded, the Giants still had a problem – it was 0-0 despite runners on the corner with one out. Juan Uribe stepped to the plate after Guillen (who was pinch ran for by Nate Schierholtz) and promptly delivered an inning ending double play ball. Or so we thought.
Despite the negative things people say about Nate, he plays the game hard – last night was no different. Knowing he had the opportunity to break up the double play, Schierholtz went into second base like a run away semi, absolutely destroying second basemen David Eckstien in the process, ripping his pant leg and sending the small Eck head over heels, clearly altering the throw just enough for Juan Uribe to beat out the back end. The Giants took a 1-0 lead and never looked back, winning by that same score.
Both plays were uber impressive and equally as important and very out of character for the Giants. That’s not to say they’re a bad base running team – it’s just that they don’t really have the speed to utilize many of the opportunities presented to themselves. Essentially, they beat the Padres the way the Padres beat everybody else. Great bullpen work, solid starting pitching, and taking calculated risks on basepaths.
Everybody needing to win last night in the playoff chase won except the Friars – Philly, Atlanta, Colorado (btw, fuck you), and of course the Giants all came out on top, keeping the Giants at 1 game back in the Wild Card race to the Braves and moving them into a tie with the Padres for the NL West crown. Technically, thanks to the Giants playing two more games than the Pads (Giants currently have one more win and loss) the Friars still are % points ahead in the West, but for all good measure – it’s a tie. And anybody who tells you different, just kick them in the nutz and go eat a blueberry pie.
Giants go for the “official” NL West lead tonight – In Buster We Trust.
Sidenote: In the bottom of the 8th, the Padres Miguel Tejada walked which resulted in a pinch running apperence by Everth Cabrera. Wasting no time, the speedster Cabrera took off and was called out by the second base umpire on another bang, bang type play. It really was a questionable call – much like the earlier play at third, but nevertheless the play resulted in an out, be it a questionable one.
The second base umpire you ask? None other than Phil Cuzzi. You know, the guy behind the dish in that whole Met game thing…