Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Physical Challenge

Two things caught my eye all the way from the upper deck on Friday.

One was Johan Santana ... not only the seven shutout innings, but his battles with Lance Berkman. The first inning epic, 11 pitches long, was indicative of how the early part of the night was going to go ... long, arduous, and meticulous. Thanks in part to Berkman, Santana had a pitch count of about 60 with two outs in the third inning, and a five inning outing was looming over the stadium like a cloud of smoke from Derek Bell's boat.

And then came the fifth inning. Berkman came up again with runners on second and third with the immortal Geoff Blum on deck. I turn to my friend and hold up four fingers ... a sign that surely I thought was coming from the dugout after Brian Schneider had a long talk with Johan on the mound. But Santana must have pulled a Rick Vaughn and given Schneider the "I want ... Berkman!" speech because Schneider went down in the crouch. And that's where my baseball companion for the evening gets the +1 for the Double Dare reference and says: "Johan is ready for the physical challenge."

Turns out he didn't know how right he was, as it wasn't an "unintentional-intentional" walk as we thought it might be. But instead, Santana turned the messy stunt of fielding a hard comebacker up the middle off Berkman into the turning point of Santana's night, as Johan wound up going seven innings ... a feat that seemed impossible coming out of the box.

And speaking of physical challenges ...

The other thing that caught my eye is the same thing that caught everyone else's eye: the return of Ryan Church.

First batter of the game flies out to Church, and he kinda gets turned a couple of ways chasing that ball. He looked about as disoriented as I was climbing down to the box seats in the upper deck (I had forgotten how steep the upper tank was.)

But in the midst of Ryan Church's own physical challenge, he beat out a base hit in his first at-bat back to set up Schneider's two run HR. With what Ryan's been through, running down the line ... and running in a straight line ... is a victory in itself.


jdon said...

In a clear case of ill-advised GM meddling, Omar is shoving Castillo down Manuel's throat. It is one thing to bring him back. Another to insist he start, which, after Manuel's recent comments, Omar is clearly doing. Is he jealous of Jerry's success?

upstate met fan said...

I have made an executive decision. I've been whining about MLB changing the starting time for the Sept 7 game. Actually, Johan made the decision for me. Hell, after watching him pitch on tv, I said to myself; self, you could be watching greatness live... and get my kids a johan bobblehead as a bonus. Sorry, I just have to drag my kids and wife to that 8pm game. I mean, Santana is pitching for petes sake!

Charity said...

I am wearing my Ryan Church shirt with pride today brother. And I was beyond thrilled to see that Shea gave him a standing ovation! I love me some Ry Ry.

MetFanMac said...

Welcome Back Mr. Church!