Editor’s Note: To help fill in the dark void of the baseball season between New Year’s Day and when pitchers and catchers report, Punky G. has decided to revisit amazing Giants games from the past. Let’s go back to Tuesday, May 2, 1995. Giants v. Dodgers Candlestick Park…
It was one of the most amazing baseball experiences the Giants had been involved in, something probably never to be seen again. Nothing but zeros on the run board until the top of the 15th inning, when the Dodgers finally broke through for three runs.
But in baseball “it ain’t over, until it’s over.”
So onto the bottom of the 15th. Three runs behind. Two outs and nobody on base. It looked as bleak as it possibly could be, but still the Giants won Tuesday, May 2, 1995 at Candlestick Park. Robby Thompson’s three-run homer tied the game, and then Matt Williams’ run-scoring double ended it. A 4-3 victory in 15 innings that took 5 hours and 16 minutes to play.
“That ranks at the top, the best,” said manager Dusty Baker, exhausted from the longest Giants game in time elapsed since September, 1986. “We just kept saying it’s not over until we say it’s over. If that doesn’t bring back the fans, nothing will.”
The Dodgers and Giants had put up 14 innings of scoreless baseball, each team keeping their respective streaks alive. The Giants’ pitchers hadn’t allowed a run in 25 innings and the Dodgers hadn’t scored one in 25.
Every pitcher on both sides seemed to be throwing wicked heat or was just getting lucky by having a batter smash one right at somebody. Giants pitchers, led by Mark Portugal’s seven scoreless innings, combined to strike out 18 Dodgers, Delino DeShield four times. The Dodgers, who got five impressive innings from Nomo, struck out 15 Giants.
But that all changed in the 15th. Mark Dewey, the seventh Giants pitcher, was going to stay out there till his arm turned blue, or so it seemed. He was in his third inning of work when the top of the Dodgers’ lineup strung four consecutive hits, all with two outs. Reggie Williams’ run-scoring single put an end to 28 consecutive zeroes on the scoreboard. Eric Karros split the gap with a line drive, his two-run double adding insurance runs.
Chris Hook, the Giants’ rookie who made his big-league debut just two days earlier, was summoned to get the final out. After allowing a walk, he got Carlos Hernandez to line out to end the inning. It turned out to be an important one- third of an inning as it gave him a chance — a very slim chance — to win his first big-league game.
The Giants managed just five hits over the first 14 innings, and now they found themselves down by three runs. A game-winning comeback? No problem.
“You could have easily just sat there after they dropped a three- spot on us,” Thompson said. “It may not sound true, but there wasn’t any letting down.”
Rob Murphy, the eighth of nine Dodgers pitchers, appeared to be on his way to a save after retiring the first two batters. But then came a walk to Jeff Reed and a single by Darren Lewis, and Murphy was gone. Greg Hansell came on and gave up Thompson’s blast, a 1-0 pitch that sailed just over the outstretched glove of Williams, the Dodgers’ left fielder.
What was left of a paid crowd of 16,099 was on its feet — as was the Giants’ dugout, which greeted Thompson before he could reach it.
“I told Robby to stay on top of the ball,” Baker said. “I told him to give Barry a chance.”
It wasn’t what Baker had in mind exactly, but Thompson did give Bonds a chance, a chance to keep the rally going. Bonds’ single up the middle set the stage for Williams to win it. Williams, on a 1-1 pitch, lashed a ball to the gap in left-center. Bonds said he saw the ball in the gap and he was going to try to score no matter what, but when Williams dived and missed the ball, Bonds came around without any fuss.
“I saw the ball in the gap, and I said `Chance it,’ ” Bonds said. “He still would have to make a perfect throw. You keep staying in there, something will happen.”
And after that amazing ending, Punky G. was able to leave Candlestick Park saying our four favorite words: “Giants win! Dodgers lose.”
As Punky G. sits here looking at the rain out the window in the middle of winter.. thoughts turn to Spring Training. No one knows where the Giants’ 2016 season will end. But the journey starts in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 19th when pitchers and Buster Posey report. Can you say, “road trip?” Humm-Baby!