I went to the Giants' game against the Padres yesterday, not because it has post-season implications (which it could), or because the Giants are playing well (which they have been doing a bit better the last few weeks), but because it was going to be Barry's first game back. I don't know whether I'd have gone if I didn't also have the tickets available (we never sold them). My brother, a neighbor (John), and a former co-worker (Mike) and I all went together, which was a lot of fun. John's not much of a sports fan, but thought it would be fun to go with me and wanted to see the "new" park, not having been before. Mike was the only other person I could get to go with us; it was good to see him again.
The game started off looking as if it was going to be just atrocious - the starting pitcher, Kevin Correia, who's had some good games walked the first 3 batters on something like 13 pitches. I remember looking at his pitch count and saying, hey look, a strike! That was after 7 balls. He got yanked after giving up 3 runs on 1 out. Matt Kinney, who actually gave up Bonds' 660th HR last year while he was with the Brewers, came in and pitched into the 6th or 7th without giving up any more runs, and actually only a hit or two, I think. That was much better.
Barry's first at-bat in 11 months went 11 pitches, including two fouls that went straight back... an inch-and-a-bit different and either of them probably would have been in the seats. In fact, the 11th pitch came very close to it! Probably would have hit the wall about a foot down if a fan out there hadn't reached down and grabbed it. He was ejected from the park. Bonds proceeded to score on Durham's single the next at bat. Awesome.
I was fairly impressed that the Pads actually pitched to him. I was half expecting that they'd just walk him and deal with everyone else, but they went after him in each of his 4 at-bats. Then they walked Durham intentionally at one point after getting Bonds out! That was funny, but it was because he has been hot lately, was 3-3 for the game at that point, and while he was followed by Alfonzo who was also 3-3, first base was open. This put the force on at any base, and I think Fonzie wound up grounding out...
As for the post-season implications, the Giants are 6 games out of first, a game behind the Dodgers and half a game over the D-backs. With 6 games left against the Padres (tonight and tomorrow being two of them), the Giants could catch the Padres just on the games they play against them. I think it's unlikely the Giants will make it, and I'm a little torn on whether I even want them to. They're 13 games under .500 with 19 to play, and it is beginning to look as if this might be the first time ever that a division is won by a team with a losing record. A brief search suggests the '73 Mets made the playoffs at 82-79.
I guess I'll pay the Giants for our playoff tickets anyway, since I'll want to go if they make it, and in case they do make it, I really want the wildcard to be Florida (or any team in the NL East, anyway). That way the Cards, who currently have the best record in the majors, will play the wildcard team in the first round, leaving the Giants with Atlanta, whose record is not quite so impressive.