Show Goes On and Finds New Ways to Win
Padres pitcher Eric Show turned, hopped off the back of the mound and stood alone in his shadow. The Padres had a 2-1 lead over Pittsburgh in the ninth inning Thursday, but the ball off Sid Bream’s bat was sailing for the right-field bleachers.
It was out of Show’s hands now. The July 7 fight with Andre Dawson, all those people calling Show all those bad names, the two weeks since when it seemed as if he was pitching from the moon. It was over and time to uncover a fresh start, and Show had already decided that this was the day.
That ball off Bream’s bat kept heading down the line toward a game-tying homer and Show thought to himself, “Fine, I’ve thrown eight good innings, I can take it. After these two weeks I can take anything.”
He stood on the mound and plotted how to pitch with the score tied.
“Sure, I thought the ball was going to be fair,” he said matter of factly. “I thought it was going to curve inside the foul pole. That was it.”
The ball curved. But foul.
The Padre pitcher stared at his shoes, the Pirate hitter stopped at first base and stared at his hands, and right then, Eric Show had found the first day of the rest of his season.
The Padres beat the Pirates, 2-1, in front of 15,752 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium and afterward Show, even though he eventually faltered and left the game with one out remaining, appeared reborn.
“I’d like to think this is a new start, yeah,” he said. “I’d like to lay low for the rest of my career. I think all the stuff I have gone through in my career had prepared me for the Chicago stuff. Now I finally feel it’s over.”
Said Manager Larry Bowa: “He has not thrown the ball like he has today. That’s the Show I remembered when I played with him. He looked like a completely different person.”
Call it picking up where he left off. Put this game together with his last two outings before the July 7 Chicago brawl and you have a man with a 3-0 record and 0.72 ERA, allowing just 15 hits in 25 innings.
In the three starts in between, including the Chicago disaster, he was 0-2 with a 6.58 ERA and allowed 18 hits 12 innings.
Said fellow starter Ed Whitson: “To experience what he’s experienced, it takes time for a man to get over that. Now Eric has. Now he’s ready to get on with his game.”
Show: “It’s nice that they would think that.”
Of course this win, only Show’s second at home, improving him to 5-11 with a 3.69 ERA, didn’t come without strings. That much will never change.
After the home run scare, he retired Bream on a full-count fastball that Bream grounded to second base. “I figured if he was going to get a hit,” Show said, “I would have to go with the best (pitch) I’ve had today.”
Then he struck out R.J. Reynolds for the second out. He had an 0-2 count on Bobby Bonilla, and the crowd cheered and stomped and . . . ball one. Ball two. Foul behind the plate. Ball three. Ball four.
Show never did have much flair for the dramatic.
Bowa ran out and talked with Show while really trying to talk to the umpires about where a couple of those rather close pitches had come in. But Show was essentially finished.
On his second pitch to ensuing pinch-hitter Mike Diaz, Show rushed his windup and plopped Diaz in the side with a change-up. Bowa brought in Rich Gossage, who retired pinch-hitter Johnny Ray on a pop foul, and the Padres had improved to 5-3 on this 11-game homestand.
Since June 4, the Padres are 23-19, the best record in the National League West during that period. The only other team over .500 during that period is Houston (22-21).
“I knew Eric had lost his concentration when he didn’t get that pitch to Bonilla on 3-and-2,” said Bowa. “I’ve got a lot of guys down there with a lot of saves under their belts. I thought a fresh arm would be good.”
Show, who already had a 1987 team-high eight strikeouts, said he understood. “Sure,” he said. “When I hit Diaz I knew it. I felt, ‘What’s he going to do?’ ”
Show had already done enough. Marking his fresh start with a new windup and renewed velocity on his fastball, Show overcame the same old problems that follow him whenever he pitches.
“We didn’t play a good game,” said Bowa. “If we don’t get a great pitched game, I don’t know what happens.”
What happened was the Padres had baserunners in all but one inning, but three of them were picked off. And four were stranded by fielder’s choice grounders. Five were either picked off or stranded in scoring position.
If it wasn’t for Randy Ready’s second homer of the year--"Nothing fancy,” he demurred--and an RBI double by Tony Gwynn that right fielder R.J. Reynolds chased down after it sailed over his head, the Padres had no chance.
“Our baserunning hurt us, we’ve really been baserunning bad,” said Bowa. “Sometimes I don’t know what we are thinking of.”
The only Pirate run came when the Padres gave the visitors five outs in the fourth, capped when center fielder Stan Jefferson misjudged a Bonilla fly ball into a triple.
When somebody mentioned that Thursday made the Padres 31-0 when entering the ninth inning with a lead, Bowa laughed.
“What are the Cardinals, 51-0?” he asked. “That’s a deceiving stat, trust me.”
Thursday, Show was deceiving, starting with the new windup, which pitchers change about as often as their haircuts. It looked so different, so much looser than Show’s trademark, that teammate Tim Flannery induced the rest of the team to start calling him ‘Dizzy.’
“Maybe not Dizzy Dean,” said Flannery. “Just ‘Dizzy’ fits him fine.”
The new look resulted in renewed velocity and better control. He walked just two. All of which resulted in the same old Show.
At one point, Show retired nine straight, and 12 of 14. At another time, eight straight Pirates failed to get the ball out of the infield.
“I was fooling around with my body more than my arm,” said Show. “I was trying to get back and throw the ball harder. And in the earlier innings, I had better velocity.
“In this game you are constantly reevaluating yourself, and today was one of those days.”
He paused. “Yeah, I think it’s over.” Padre Notes
Third baseman Chris Brown underwent a bone scan on his right wrist before Thursday’s game. The results were negative. No fracture, just pain. The soreness, which he endured enough to hit .324 in his last 10 games, caused him to miss Thursday and will place his availability on a day-to-day basis. In his last appearance, Wednesday against St. Louis, he looked hurt and frustrated with two strikeouts and two groundouts. . . . Thursday, Rich Gossage recorded his first save since June 26 in Atlanta, his seventh overall. He is now tied with Warren Spahn for 17th place on the all-time appearance list (761). . . . John Kruk had another hit, giving him hits in 10 of his last 11 games for a .389 mark (14-for-36). . . . Surprise: Luis Salazar started Thursday at shortstop, his first start in 18 days, and only his ninth start there all season. He caught a couple of popups and a line drive but, alas, he didn’t get a grounder.