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Friday, October 17, 2014

Giants Headed Back to the World Series as Travis Ishikawa Achieves Baseball Immortality

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 12:01 AM

In 2004, a young Giants prospect named Travis Ishikawa was drilled in the face in his first game in Single-A San Jose. 

Some guys have all the luck. 

The wounded ballplayer was sent to the dentist where, of course, he met his future wife. Funny thing, this life. Funny thing. 

And so, in the bottom of the ninth inning last night, in a tie ballgame with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ishikawa stepped up to the plate. The journeyman and career defensive replacement last year considered retirement and was, this year, picked up by the Giants in midseason after being unceremoniously jettisoned by Pittsburgh. He is the team's de facto starting left fielder despite only playing there thrice this season; he utterly butchered a fly ball early in Thursday night's game, costing the team a precious run. 

Travis Ishikawa will never have to buy a drink in this town again. 

His home run cleared the right field wall and landed in a special place in Giants history. It put the team back in the World Series for the third time in five years and inspired delirium, pandemonium, and an untold number of ebullient, ephemeral tweets. Out in the Excelsior, the cops shut down Mission in an attempt to prevent cruising and, one would assume, any ensuing mayhem. At least one cop wore a Giants cap and high-fived a passing reporter. At least one group of kids began playing soccer on the street rendered conveniently empty thanks to Ishikawa. 

The Giants are going to the World Series. Again. And the city is having a party. 

click to enlarge Yes, that just happened...
  • Yes, that just happened...

Last night's pennant-clinching victory was a masterpiece of sorts. A team that hadn't hit a home run for the entire National League Championship Series swatted three, the source of all six of its runs. The Giants won this series in five games, and yet every contest was close. It was fundamentally solid, nerve-wracking baseball played between two high-level teams. 

As Walter Sobchak would say "Worthy f*cking adversaries.

Ishikawa's misplay gave St. Louis a third-inning 1-0 lead, but Joe Panik's only-in-AT&T Park shot down the right-field line put San Francisco up, 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning. It would not last long. Homers from burly Matt Adams and Tony Cruz in the fourth off a rather mortal Madison Bumgarner placed St. Louis back on top. And that's how it would stay for quite some time, with aces Bumgarner and Adam Wainwright matching zeros. 

But, in the eighth, Giants lore would induct a newcomer. Hitting for Bumgarner, Unfrozen Caveman Pinch Hitter Michael Morse launched a game-tying laser beam over the left field wall, and channeled 1988 Mickey Hatcher in his celebratory home run trot

Jeremy Affeldt defused a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth created by an uncharacteristically flaccid Santiago Casilla, setting the stage for Ishikawa's heroics in the bottom of the ninth. 

San Francisco opens up on Tuesday in Kansas City against the improbably formidable Royals, who are certain to be everyone's favorite underdog. So be it.

Following yesterday's victory, Giants manager Bruce Bochy likened his indomitable team to a pack of cockroaches. Nobody likes cockroaches. Even other cockroaches don't like cockroaches. But, at the end of the day, the cockroaches will survive us all. 

What do you do when the cockroaches meet America's Sweethearts? When the unstoppable force meets the Team of Destiny? Those are easy questions.

You watch. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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