Show and Padres Win; Gwynn to Sit for While
He walked to the mound in the top of the ninth inning Saturday to face the Atlanta Braves hitters one last time and there they were cheers. Huge cheers, uninhibited affection pouring out of the stands in swells, some people standing, others simply shouting.
Oh , thought Eric Show, I know what this is all about.
So before throwing his first warmup pitch, the Padre spun and stared at the Diamondvision screen in center field.
“I thought everyone was cheering because they were showing a funny play up there, or because somebody had won something,” Show said. “I thought something was happening.”
The scoreboard showed nothing special. Show turned back toward home plate and sighed.
“I thought, ‘Oh well, I’ve missed it,” he said.
It wasn’t until later, in the clubhouse, when he realized something.
That cheering was for Eric Show.
Call it a night that was as surprising as it was satisfying for the often-controversial Padre pitcher. Show threw a three-hitter to help the Padres defeat the Atlanta Braves, 6-2. And then he was verbally rewarded for it.
“I did not know what the cheering was about, I could not believe it was for me,” Show said. “I didn’t think I would ever get that kind of reaction from a home crowd. I think the people here are still confused about it.”
In front of 17,993 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, there was no mistaking his success in his 11th complete game of the season, the most since Randy Jones set a club record with 25 complete games in 1976. In improving his record to 13-11--he’s 7-1 since Aug. 1--he allowed just an Ozzie Virgil homer until the ninth, when his one-hitter was busted with two Brave singles and another run.
“There’s no question,” Manager Jack McKeon said afterward in a rare statement of uncompromising praise. “That guy can pitch.”
On a different note, there was also no question about what McKeon was doing after the game in a closed-door meeting with another Padre star, Tony Gwynn. Just as the Padres were breaking a two-game losing streak and moving back to within 2 1/2 games of third place, they were losing their top hitter for at least a couple of days, if not more.
Knowing the sore-handed Gwynn would never take himself out of the lineup, McKeon called him and did it for him.
“I told him I was going to rest him and when he said that might be for the best, I just knew how bad he must be hurting,” McKeon said.
Bad it certainly is. Gwynn, who had tendon surgery on his left index finger this winter, began feeling pain in the finger just before the All-Star break. With doctors saying the only cure is rest, and later off-season cleanup surgery, the pain and swelling have worsened and worsened until Saturday, when Gwynn actually seemed relieved to be benched.
“I can’t hold a bat, I can’t swing, the last two nights I’ve gotten one swing,” he said. “I just can’t do it anymore. And it’s everything I do in life. It hurts when I open my car door, when I pick up my kids. I’ve toughed it out as long as I can.”
McKeon said he expects Gwynn back by the end of the home stand next week. Gwynn said he doesn’t know what to expected, claiming only that “my season ain’t finished yet. I know the finger is not going to get any better, but I just want to have a few days to get my brain thinking the right way, and then I’ll go back at it.”
Gwynn was in such a state Saturday, after weakly grounding out three consecutive times following a first-inning single, that for the first time he even seemed resigned to the possible off-season bone-shaving surgery.
“I guess it’s got to be done,” he said, later adding, “I ain’t got many options . . . it’s just that I don’t know what that surgery will take care of. The tendon in there is gone, I don’t know what else they can do.”
The Gwynn problem provided quite a down ending to a day in which Show, who has been in the middle of controversy since announcing his affiliation with the John Birch Society in 1984, said he finally felt at home.
When asked if he thought San Diego fans were appreciating him more, he said, “I hope so. I’ve changed and grown. There have been some things I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had no control, but there have also been things in which I’ve had control, and maybe I would now handle those things differently. For me, it’s a constant journey . . . and hearing that reaction there was nice.”
Show said Saturday was also nice because of a larger motive--he had made a pregame call to a friend with Cystic Fibrosis and promised to pitch this game for him. The man, Tim Harris, age 32, took the request in the UCSD Medical Center.
“He’s a real fighter, and I’m glad I was able to do something for him,” said Show, who said it was the first time he ever dedicated a game to anyone.
With Carmelo Martinez’ 13th homer and two RBIs from Roberto Alomar and Garry Templeton, it was basically a good Padre night all around. It was such a good night, their manager argued with an umpire--and won. With one out in the third inning of a 1-1 game, Alomar drove a ball into the right-field corner. It exited the field and, scattering the Braves relievers like it was a hand grenade, ended up behind the metal bench in the bullpen. Alomar had rounded second and was steaming toward third and . . . whoa. First-base umpire Doug Harvey raised his hands and ruled it a ground-rule double, moving Alomar back to second. Out walked Padre Manager Jack McKeon, almost smiling, holding a Padre lineup card. On the back of that card are the stadium ground rules. One such ground rule reads, “Bullpens are in play.” Home plate umpire Frank Pulli met with Harvey, and Alomar was awarded third in a rare ground-rule triple. “I don’t think I won anything,” McKeon said with a smile. “It was right in the rules.” . . . Padre stat of the week: In the past 18 times he has batted first, shortstop Dickie Thon has started the first inning with a hit seven times and a walk three times. That’s a .556 on-base percentage. In the process, he has scored nine runs in the first inning. That’s what you call a leadoff hitter. . . . The Padre play of the week occurred not in San Diego, and not even by the Padres. It took place Monday night, 1,200 miles away, courtesy of the Padres’ rookie league team in Spokane. The Indians won the Northwest League championship with a 3-2 victory over Southern Oregon (Oakland affiliate) in the final game of the series thanks to an eighth-inning, two-out, bases-loaded steal of home by outfielder Mike Humphreys. Humphreys, standing on third with one out, told Spokane manager and third-base coach Steve Lubratich he felt he could steal home. Lubratich told him to wait for one more out. After a strikeout, Lubratich approached the next hitter, David Briggs, and told him to square around and fake a bunt. He then told Humphreys to go for it. When the Southern Oregon pitcher wound up, Humphreys took off and simply beat the the pitch to the plate. “First time we’ve done it all year--and on our last at-bat of the year,” Lubratich said. When asked how his team celebrated the championship, Lubratich smiled and said, “Like a team that had won it with a bases-loaded, two-out steal.” . . . The Padre organization won another title Friday night when their class-A Riverside club defeated Stockton (Milwaukee), 7-3, to complete a three-game sweep of the California League championship series. They had already showed some fortitude in the semifinals by coming back from a 2-games-to-0 deficit to defeat Palm Springs (Angels), 3-2. They were actually down, 6-0, in the sixth inning of Game 3 but came back to win, 10-8, and won the semifinal series behind the hitting of top third base prospect David Hollins (12 for 14 in three games). . . . The Padres’ chance for a third minor league title begins Monday night in Las Vegas, where the triple-A Stars host Vancouver (Milwaukee) in the opener of the Pacific Coast League championship series. Las Vegas, which struggled in the final couple of months of the season, swept Albuquerque (Dodgers) in three games in the semifinal series. Las Vegas’ winning ways mean the soonest any of their players would join the Padres would likely be next weekend.