SAN FRANCISCO — There was a heartbreaking game here Monday, but, the fact is, it broke nobody's heart. It came to an end in the 12th inning, with a Chili Davis broken-bat blooper that fell safely into right field. Jeffrey Leonard scored from second, and the San Francisco Giants had won on opening day, 4-3.
Larry Bowa, the Padres' first year manager, walked off calmly--head up, for those wondering--and he sat quietly in his office. On Sunday, after witnessing the Padres' eighth straight exhibition loss, he had whined about his team and questioned whether they could win a Pacific Coast League title. One day later, after this 4-3 loss, he criticized no one--an upset in itself.
Two reasons for this:
When Bowa arrived here Sunday night, he found out that his 63-year-old mother, Mary, had been rushed to a Sacramento hospital. She had had trouble breathing. She had been battling a virus for two weeks and had lost close to 20 pounds.
"You realize, when some things like this happen, that when things are going bad on the field, they're really not so bad," Bowa said Monday. "This sort of brings things into perspective."
Bowa left Candlestick Park Monday, drove two-hours east to Sacramento to sit at his mother's bedside. He didn't agonize at all about the fact the Padres blew a 3-0, eighth-inning lead to the Giants.
It helped, of course, that the Padres finally looked major league Monday. Eric Show, his sore elbow never a worry, shut out the Giants for seven innings and said if he'd been lucky, he might have thrown a no-hitter.
It helped that a forgotten man, left-fielder Carmelo Martinez, had two RBIs--including a second-inning solo home run. Bowa had a hunch Martinez was hot. General Manager Jack McKeon had the same hunch last week and decided not to trade Martinez.
artinez also made a diving, fourth-inning catch in the outfield that saved a run.
It helped that rookie Joey Cora, 21 and uptight, played as the Padres had dreamed. He drag bunted for a single, hit a line drive for a single and stole a base. He turned a double play. He fielded a difficult ground ball to his left.
It helped that the Padres escaped certain defeat in the 10th inning. Giant first baseman Will Clark, facing reliever Craig Lefferts, led off with a triple to right-center. Bowa ordered Chris Brown and Leonard intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs.
The next hitter, Joel Youngblood, hit a slow bouncer to Lefferts' right. He fielded it, spun around and threw to the plate for the out. Davis--the eventual hero--was next. The infield and outfield moved way in. Center fielder Marvell Wynne was within yards of second base. Lefferts threw an inside pitch, and Davis lined one hard to third.
Kevin Mitchell, in his first game as a Padre, caught it and threw quickly to first to catch Youngblood, who had strayed too far from the bag, for a double play.
Mitchell said: "It was one of them bang-bang plays. It was hit so hard, it hurt my hand. My hand swelled up a little."
The Padres had played their best game in two weeks. Spring training had been straining Bowa.
"But I have no complaints today," Bowa said. "If we play like that all year, we'll win our share of games, regardless of whether we have a young team."
The 12th inning, the inning that ended it, could have been over quickly, Dave Dravecky, the fourth Padre pitcher, immediately got two outs. But Leonard, a power hitter, was coming up. Bowa, rather than pitching coach Galen Cisco, came to the mound and warned Dravecky not to lose the game to Leonard. Dravecky jammed Leonard with an inside fastball, but Leonard lifted it to center for a single.
Dravecky was losing it. Pinch-hitter Bob Melvin singled, and then Davis came up. Dravecky jammed him, too, but Davis lifted it to right field. Tony Gwynn came running in but could not catch it and Leonard scored.
"I was surprised (Dravecky) was relieving," Davis said. "He should be a starter. That gives me four chances at him instead of one."
Dravecky said: "It was a good pitch, a slider inside. It's frustrating because we battled all day."
Bowa said he didn't manage all that well.
"We lost," he said. "You don't get paid to lose."
When Show walked two consecutive batters to begin the second, Bowa came out to the mound to say, "Eric, you've got good stuff. Just throw."
Show retired three straight.
On one of those second-inning walks, Show fell to his knees on a close ball-four call. Home plate umpire Doug Harvey came out, smacked the ball into Show's glove and--according to Show--said: "Young man, I think you should show a little more restraint." Show apologized.
But it was Bowa who came out after the inning and told Harvey: "He wasn't trying to show you up, Doug. Leave him alone."
In the eighth, with one out and the Padres ahead, 3-0, Show walked pinch-hitter Mike Aldrete. Bowa came out to say, "You're still throwing good, Eric." Clark then singled to right. Brown followed with a checked-swing RBI single that fell an inch fair down the right-field line. The score was 3-1.
At this point, Bowa knew he had to take out Show, who had gone 7 innings and given up five hits--none of which were hit very hard.
"I was happy that I had good stuff the whole game, and far too good stuff to have lost," Show said. "On a lot of other days, I might have thrown a no-hitter. There just weren't many balls hit hard."
The Giants managed to tie it, 3-3, off Lance McCullers, who relieved Show. Candy Maldonado did it with a two-run double that fell just fair inside the right-field line.
In the top of the 10th, the Padres loaded the bases with two outs, but Tony Gwynn grounded out.
Still, Show wasn't angry about his no-decision and said he was impressed with Bowa's managing. If Bowa had a problem when he was a Triple-A manager, it was his handling of pitchers. But no problem, Monday.
After his postgame press conference, Bowa quietly thanked the reporters for coming and got in his car. He'd see his mother, spend the night in Sacramento and be back in time for today's game.