The Brian Johnson Game
In 1997, the Giants and Dodgers were in the middle of another classic division battle.
Candlestick Park was packed for a two game series in late September. After a win the day before, the Giants went into the game tied with the Dodgers for the division lead.
This game would go into extra innings. It wasn’t suppose to. The Giants were up 5-1 after Barry Bonds hit a three run home run in the fifth inning. But the Dodgers scored two runs in both the sixth and the seventh and the game was tied through nine.
Then came the top of the tenth inning. Rod Beck, the Giants closer came into the tie game and gave up three straight singles. With the bases full of Dodgers, Beck struck out Todd Zeile and forced Eddie Murray to ground into an inning ending double play.
“The ‘Stick” was rocking.
Dodgers relief pitcher Todd Worrell and Beck spent the next two innings putting up zeroes and the game went into the 12th. Brian Johnson, who had been catching all 12 innings, was ready to send the fan base into a frenzy. Johnson homered to left off Mark Guthrie and walked off the Dodgers and took a commanding one game lead in the division.
The momentum never swayed and the Giants won the division two weeks later. The Giants had finished the previous year in last place, so beating the Dodgers and winning the West in 1997 was not only unlikely, but as good as it gets. It was truly a team of “Dustiny,” as the phrase was coined that season.