No baseball? No problem.
Well, I mean, it is a problem, but let’s ignore that. Here’s a new series called Tommy Watches Braves Games on Youtube. Or TWBGY, which is pronounced “twb-gee.” As in, “ohh, another twb-gee.” Except it’s actually a TWBGY. You know what – call it whatever you want. These are trying times and you’re allowed to be wrong.
Today, we are traveling back to the year 1995 as the Braves make a trip to Candlestick Park to face the Giants for a July 28th contest. Two years before, these teams were locked in a tight race for the NL West. But right now – err, then? – the Giants are in last place in the NL West with a record of 38-47. They’ve not only allowed the most runs in the NL to this point, but they’ve also allowed 48 more runs than the second-worst pitching staff, the Rockies. And unlike the Rockies, they can’t excuse the lack of pitching because of where they play. After all, Candlestick is one of the worst places to hit in.
We get the TBS coverage for this game. Unfortunately, the recording starts after the intro and we’re already looking at the Tylenol starting lineup. It’s a typical 1995 lineup for the Braves and holy shit, this lineup is loaded. It starts with Marquis Grissom and ends with John Smoltz. The Giants counter with a fun outfield that has Barry Bonds in left and Deion Sanders in center. Yep, I totally forgot Deion played for the Giants. He recently joined the team in fact. San Francisco is missing Matt Williams, who played only 76 games that season.
On the mound is Sergio Valdez, who is getting a spot start after William VanLandingham missed the game with a shoulder. Valdez is a former Brave as Skip Caray points out. He was one of three players the Braves got “many moons ago” for Zane Smith. Skip suggests it “wasn’t one of our better swaps.” Skip is right. Though, to be fair, it’s not like Smith ever reached his potential. This would be the final year Valdez pitched in the majors. After two relief appearances, today is the first of eleven starts he would make for the Giants. He finished the year with a 4.75 ERA, which beats his career mark of 5.06 in 302.2 innings.
Jesus, Chipper Jones looks 14.
Skip and Joe Simpson making note of a lot of moves today as the deadline is pending. Apparently, the Yankees added Ruben Sierra, David Cone, and Darryl Strawberry. Joe quips: “Makes for a great promotion, I think. Maybe ‘Wanted’ poster night.” Skip laughs and says, “you’re a bad man.”
Mark Carreon is your answer as to who is hitting behind Bonds today. Who knew?
Deion is leading off and he’s apparently dealing with a bad ankle. While he’s hitting, Skip and Joe go into some of the prospects that were traded away. None of them really had much of a career. Deion pops out to the INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF FOUL TERRITORY and Chipper puts it away. They don’t make them like they used to. Thankfully.
Skip is literally reading off the transactions like he just picked up the newspaper. Bob Tewksbury just went on the DL. Bonds steps in and we get THE SHIFT. “Chipper Jones gets to play shortstop for a while.” Smoltz gets Bonds looking on a breaking ball that might have even caught the corner.
Look for the July issue of Chop Talk. There’s a profile on how Mark Wohlers is developing into one of the top closers in baseball.
Skip talks about how Chipper and David Justice get a lot of “Elvis” screams from the crowd because they look good, but jokes that Joe could get more than them – especially wearing “those cute slacks you bought yesterday.” Jeez, it’s hard not to miss him.
Mark Carreon playing with the #46 so you know he means business as a first baseman.
Joe Simpson brings up a deal that the Giants made with the Reds and how it was a bad one for them to make. The deal, which is the one that brought Deion to San Francisco where he was also a member of the 49ers the previous fall, sent Dave Burba, Darren Lewis, and Mark Portugal to the Reds. None of the players the Giants got back really performed that notably with San Francisco. Some suggested the Giants were in cahoots with the Niners to make the deal in hopes it might help convince Sanders to stay in San Francisco. If that conspiracy was factual, it didn’t work as Deion signed with Dallas.
Meanwhile, we’re talking pace of play! Oh, you thought that was just a thing Rob Manfred lays awake in his pajamas thinking about? Nope, there was a push to add a timer. With no runners on, they wanted no less than twelve seconds between pitches provided the hitter was in the box. Skip argues that, with Kirt Manwaring at the plate, “nothing against Kirt Manwaring,” it’s a little less stressful facing him even with the runner on versus facing Barry Bonds with no runners on. Of course, Manwaring then hits a two-run homer to put the Giants up in the bottom of the second. “The answer to my question is you better think about Kirt Manwaring.” A bad hanging curveball from Smoltzie. Manwaring was 1-for-19 before that at-bat against Smoltz. He’s go 2-for-5, including the homer, to finish his career versus Smoltz.
By the way, Valdez is cruising. The first nine up were all sat down. Seven grounders and two strikeouts.
Smoltz gets away with a badly located pitch to Bonds, but Justice gets it at the wall to end the third. It would have been a homer in San Fran’s new park. By the way, the entire time, there is signage behind home plate that says, “Kids Free All Summer!” I don’t know if they are letting kids into Candlestick free all summer or giving away free kids. Remember, this is post-strike. Teams were begging people to come out. But I like to think that maybe a truck of orphans arrived at Candlestick and the Giants were using them as a promotion. I’m just saying – the signage could tell you more.
Chipper Jones hits something to the outfield! It’s a lazy pop-up to left, but it’s an improvement. It’s the last out of the fourth and the first time the Braves made a Giants outfielder really move.
By the way, the Aflac trivia question is, “when was the last time the Giants won the World Series?” Well, in 1995, you had to go all the way back to 1954.
Sergio Valdez takes a perfect game into the fifth, which Joe Simpson mentions. So, I’m waiting for it to end. Skip: “I mean, nothing against Sergio Valdez, but this is a little embarrassing.” Well, then. On a 3-0 pitch, Justice smacks one to first…but Carreon is there to rob him and throws from his ass to Valdez to keep hope alive. He’s through five.
Ooh, let’s change crews to Pete Van Wieren and Don Sutton and see if that fixes this. These innings are going by at a brisk pace as Smoltz settles in following the Manwaring homer and Valdez is just impossible to hit right now.
…until Javy Lopez singles to open the sixth. Not much else going, but at least it won’t be a Perfect Game by the Sergio Valdez.
Don Sutton doesn’t know what is coming next after the game, but he hopes it won’t be “Valdez is Coming,” a 1971 movie starring Burt Lancaster. Even for the time, that was one dated reference.
In the seventh, the Braves are finally figuring out Valdez. After a double play wiped out Jeff Blauser, Fred McGriff crushes a homer to right field. I miss watching that swing. Conversely, John Smoltz has yet another easy inning. This is a bad, bad Giants team.
Amazingly, Valdez continues on despite the fact he wasn’t supposed to start today. And he cruises through the 8th, setting down Dwight Smith to end the eighth inning. Three hits and a run allowed over eight. Baseball is a fun game.
Side-armer Brad Clontz takes over. Apparently, Clontz wasn’t taught how to throw side-arm. It was just something he did in high school when he was ahead of hitters because they weren’t used to seeing it. In college, he moved to the pen and expanded on that thought by believing hitters will be set off because they don’t see the side-arm delivery all game until he comes in.
Oh, thank the Dusty Baker, the Giants are pinch-hitting for Sergio Valdez to end the 8th. They want to go with Rod Beck, who is struggling badly. Apparently, there was a “rumor” – or more accurately, a dumb idea – from a local paper that maybe the Braves would trade Ryan Klesko for Beck. “Uhhh, I don’t think so,” says Don Sutton. Me either, Don.
Clontz works around a two-out single and we’re headed to the ninth with the Braves down 2-1. Beck sporting a 4.82 ERA for the season, including an 11.88 ERA in July. Woof. The Giants pen has given up 70 runs in July. In 77 innings. Double woof.
Grissom gets walked on four straight, though to be honest, ball four was a strike. That brings up Blauser, who squares to bunt and I silently judge Bobby Cox. He’s not squaring on the second pitch and Grissom swipes second. Good Bobby. Good. Blauser is down 0-2, but is able to advance the runner on a groundout. Chipper Jones and Fred McGriff with a chance to tie and maybe win it? I’ll take my chances. Chipper with three game-winning homers in the ninth according to the TBS graphic. Not bad, rook. And then, he singles through the drawn-in infield and we’re all tied up. Sorry, Sergio. No win for you.
Who said this? “A starting pitcher’s job is not to win ball games. That’s a bonus if it happens, but the starting pitcher’s job is to get hitters out.” Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton. He wants us to stop looking so much at the win-loss record. You got it, buddy.
McGriff crushes another pitch, but like Bonds earlier, it surprisingly dies at the warning track. Chipper impressively moves up to second, beating the throw-in. You almost forget just how quick Chipper was before injuries started to pile up. That becomes key when Justice singles in Chipper to put the Braves ahead. In the dugout, Sergio Valdez shows no emotion, but he’s probably cursing in Spanish.
Look at the picture to the right. That’s David Justice who is already running to second even before Beck delivers a pitch. Sutton remarks that Beck is completely asleep. Justice getting a jump on Beck like he’s Otis Nixon out here. He was half-way to second before Beck released the ball. They walk Klesko as a result, who gets lifted by Baker. He looks about ready to murder someone.
Hey, it’s Scott Service. I wonder if he’ll be serviceable in this game.
Uh, Javy Lopez just hit a three-run homer and it’s 6-2. They show Sergio Valdez, who might go Tonya Harding on the bullpen right now.
Heading to the bottom of the ninth and we have a Mike Kelly sighting as he replaces Klesko in the field. Before Javy’s big swing, the Giants still had hope because Bonds would get another trip to the plate. Speaking of Bonds, he becomes Wohlers second strikeout of the day when he swings through a fastball. After a final grounder, Braves win this one 6-2.
Atlanta wins their 19th game of July and the month isn’t over. Jeez. Chipper Jones is named the AutoZone Player of the Game for his game-tying single and smart baserunning that followed.
Did you enjoy this look back? Let me know and I will probably do this again.