Jerome Williams pitched the Giants into a tie with the Houston Astros for the NL Wild Card lead, holding the Padres to one run over seven innings. The Giants held on for a 4-1 win to send them into LA with a chance for a one-game NL West playoff if they can manage a sweep of the Dodgers.
The pitch of the game, and maybe the season, came in the fourth inning. Rich Aurilia, Giant-killer ever since he arrived in San Diego, had been pounding the inside pitch the whole series. After hitting a monstrous foul ball into the leather recliner seats in the second deck, Williams went down and away three straight times to push the count full, a man on first, and two outs. At that moment, my friend Jason asked why Williams had suddenly lost command of his pitches. I explained that Aurilia had taken away the inside part of plate by pounding the crap out of it up the whole series. The only way Williams could get him out on the inside would be if Aurilia had come to the same conclusion. On the next pitch, Williams pounded a fastball, hand-high and tight to the inside corner, the exact spot where it seemed he could not throw the ball to Aurilia, who froze as the umpire rang him up.
There was no doubt that Aurilia had ignored the inside part of plate, and it was just that kind of ballsy pitching that took the heart out of the Padres last night. Williams did the same thing to Nevin in a later at-bat, and pitched an outstanding game in leading the Giants. Now it’s on to LA…..
Update: One of my backtalkers mentioned that Krukow had called that pitch to Aurilia a curve that hung, and had missed the location. I don’t remember that, at the time, I thought that the pitch deserved commentary, and I waited out the commercial; and all they did was show a single replay with little mention of the situation or the result. Maybe tonight they’ll talk about it in the pregame, although I doubt it.