Dodgers Make It Worth Braves’ Wait : Baseball: It’s finally the Giants’ turn to cry as Gross and Piazza spark a 12-1 victory.
Neither the presence of Willie Mays nor the peering eyes of Bobby Thomson on Sunday could stop the vengeful ghosts of October 3 past from haunting the San Francisco Giants, whom the Dodgers finally repaid with a 12-1 pounding that cost them the National League West division title.
The Dodgers did it behind the pitching of Kevin Gross and the presence of Mike Piazza, who, like the Giants, was a longshot before this season to even be playing in a game that would decide a division title. But Piazza wasn’t thinking about all the times the Dodgers had suffered at the hands of the Giants on Oct. 3--among them 1951, 1962 and 1982, a history lesson that Manager Tom Lasorda gave his club in a meeting before the game.
All Piazza was trying to do was to hit a home run for his father, Vince, and win the game. All he needed was one more to set the Los Angeles franchise record. And all the Giants needed was one more victory to send them back to San Francisco to a playoff game with the Atlanta Braves, who beat the Colorado Rockies earlier in the day.
Instead, Piazza hit two home runs to send a crowd of 54,340 at Dodger Stadium into a series of standing ovations and the winningest team in Giant franchise history into a losing clubhouse.
“It’s like going to the prom and not getting in the door,” said Giant Manager Dusty Baker, whose team won 103 games, a franchise high.
”. . . From my point of view, maybe the schedule makers knew what they were doing scheduling the last four games here.”
From the beginning, experts said that the Giants couldn’t win because they didn’t have enough pitching, and in the end--Sunday--the prediction proved true. Baker went with the best he had left, rookie Salomon Torres (3-5), but it wasn’t good enough. Torres gave up three runs, five hits and walked five before leaving in the fourth inning, giving way to six relievers whom the Dodgers pounded for a total of nine runs, including four home runs.
“Everybody I brought in from the bullpen, except (Scott) Sanderson, was running on empty,” said Baker, whose bullpen had been used in the past 17 consecutive games. “So in my mind, we went as far as we could go with the talent we had.”
Gross (13-13) stymied a the league-leading Giant offense, holding it to six hits in nine innings. He held the heart of the order, Will Clark, Matt Williams and Barry Bonds, to a total of two hits.
“We just ran out of innings,” said Bonds, who finished the season with a .346 batting average and a league-high 46 home runs and 123 runs batted in.
The Giants’ undoing came in the fifth inning. With the Dodgers leading, 3-1, Piazza sent reliever Dave Burba’s first pitch into the right field pavilion. Burba then threw four consecutive balls to Eric Karros before Cory Snyder hit the first pitch he saw into the right-center pavilion to put the Dodgers ahead, 6-1.
“We had a little meeting before the game and Tommy gave us a little pep talk,” said Snyder, who played for the Giants last season, a year after they eliminated the Dodgers on the final weekend.
“Tommy came in and started reciting the stats and times that the Giants had knocked the Dodgers out of the pennant, and that seemed to be all the incentive we needed.”
With Clark on first base and one out in the sixth, Gross had two strikes on Bonds before sailing a pitch to the backstop, allowing Clark to move to second. But Gross came back with a cut fastball that sent Bonds down swinging. Gross went on to retire the final 10 in order. His only walk came in the first inning.
After the game, the Giants took some time to regroup behind closed doors before they let reporters in, Baker saying that his team has more pride than to let the world see their pain.
“I just told the team that I was extremely proud of them,” said Baker, whose team was in sole possession of first place from May 10 to Sept. 10.
“This is my first team and no matter what happens the next three, four or 15 years, this will always be my first team. I’ll always remember this season.”