Saturday, August 12, 1978 at Dodger Stadium
Game 1520 – 5/10/16

With the bats of Giants regulars suddenly going silent this month (Bill Madlock is hitting just .143, Jack Clark .122, and Mike Ivie .102), the team’s run production for their game last night at Dodger Stadium fell into the hands of utility players Hector Cruz, Jim Dwyer, and Willie McCovey, who all powered home runs in a 4-2 win over LA.

For 20-year veteran McCovey, it was the 498th HR of his career, an eighth inning solo shot off Dodgers reliever Rick Sutcliffe that gave the Giants a late two-run lead, and prompted cheers—as well as some confusion—among fans and players alike. “I knew I had three more to go,” said McCovey, “and when I looked up and saw the scoreboard flashing a big 500, I thought maybe I’d forgotten one.”

The ‘500’ was soon switched to a ‘498’, eliciting a less-enthusiastic round of applause from the primarily Los Angeles contingent, who from that point on had nothing more to cheer about after SF relievers Randy Moffitt and Gary Lavelle shut down the Dodgers over the final two innings, making a winner of starter Bob Knepper (12-8), who struck out four and walked none during his six innings of work.

Cruz kicked off the game’s scoring in the second inning, when he launched a 3-1 pitch from starter Rick Rhoden (7-6) into the home bullpen in left field, good for his second home run of the season and a quick 2-0 LA lead. Two innings later, backup outfielder Dwyer made it 3-0 with another HR at the expense of Rhoden, a two-out solo drive that plunked into the empty pavilion seats in right field, well beyond the reach of right fielder Reggie Smith. The blast was the fourth of the season for Dwyer, and in the end proved to be the game-winning run for the visiting squad.

The Dodgers finally got on the board in the sixth, when pinch-hitter Ted Martinez singled to center, advanced to second on a ground out, and scored on Bill Russell’s bloop base hit down the first-base line. Steve Garvey then singled past a diving Cruz at third to move Russell into scoring position, but on the next play Russell was forced by Cruz on a nifty one-hop snare by shortstop Roger Metzger off the bat of Smith, good for the frame’s second out. With runners again at first and second, Ron Cey powered a gap double that easily scored Garvey, cutting the deficit to one; however, center fielder Larry Herndon’s rifle peg to home nailed Smith trying to score the game-tying tally from first, ending the inning with the Giants up 3-2.

Moffitt then came on in the seventh to replace Knepper; he served up a two-out pinch-triple to Vic Davalillo, but the threat ended there when Rick Monday struck out to end the inning. After a perfect eighth, Moffitt departed and Lavelle was called on to work the ninth, allowing a single to Pedro Guerrero before Lee Lacy bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end the contest. For Lavelle, it was his ninth save this season, second on the team behind Moffitt’s fifteen but a bit off the pace of the twenty he secured in 1977.

The win kept the Giants from taking a costly step backwards in their quest for the NL West flag; they’re now just 3½ games back of the front-running Dodgers and 1½ behind the second-place Padres, who yesterday lost their game against the Reds by a 5-1 count. With one game left in their current 4-game series, and four dates upcoming in September, there’s still plenty of opportunity for the Giants to gain more ground….or for the Dodgers to widen the gap.

SF - Bob Knepper

Game Notes

• The game was played at night at site AZ18, at the living room table while I listened to Windham Hill songs on my HP Mini laptop.

• This was the 26th game played at AZ18, good for 17th on the all-time games hosted list.

• This was the third game played on this date, and the first since 2015.

• The first pitch was thrown at 9:33 pm, and the final out was made at 10:08 pm.

• Neither team could get the ball out of the infield in the first inning: the Giants had three infield flyouts, while the Dodgers had three infield groundouts.

• LA pinch-hitters were 3-for-3 tonight.

• Dwyer had tripled with one out in the ninth, and Metzger was called on to lay down a suicide squeeze…but LA pitcher Charlie Hough pounced on the bunt and immediately threw home to catcher Jerry Grote, who blocked the plate and applied the tag to Dwyer for the out.

• In the photo above, what you see is almost exactly how it was in the SP78 game: in the second inning, the Giants had two hits, the Dodgers had one, and LA had committed no errors, with Knepper still on the mound for San Francisco. The only discrepancy: the batter wearing #10 for Los Angeles, Ron Cey, had batted before Lee Lacy had singled in the second for LA’s first hit, so the current batter displayed on the scoreboard should’ve been #16, Rick Monday. (Although, that zero in the ’10’ could be a mutated ‘6’)

• It was Hollywood Stars Night at Dodger Stadium, a charity softball game featuring celebrities and players, but since I didn’t have Statis Pro player cards for the likes of Ryan O’Neal and Phyllis Diller, I didn’t bother to play it.

• On September 17, 2017, while doing July blog site work for the Giants, I discovered that my career home run totals for Willie McCovey were off, thanks to me referencing some old stat sheets a while back that contained incorrect numbers. So McCovey’s 499th HR originally mentioned in the recap above has now become his 498th, which probably will confuse fans at Dodger Stadium even more.

• A few hours before I started the game, I went to see Roman Holiday at the Harkins Arrowhead 16 next door, a Tuesday Night Classics screening which started at 7:00.

Roman Holiday TNC at Harkins

4 responses to “

  1. It’s odd that the Dodgers’ pinch hitters were 3 for 3 in a loss. Oh yeah, it can happen, but generally pinch hitters are put in to handle clutch situations, so getting a hit should have led to some scoring or a rally, but apparently not. And was your reaction to Big Mac’s 499th similar to your reaction to witnessing live Robin Yount’s 3100th career hit? I’m hoping Willie gets a few more chances at #500 before the season ends, so if Sutton or Niekro are pitching, make sure he gets in – he had 8 homers off of each one of those guys!

    • One of those three LA pinch-hits did do some damage, as Ted Martinez singled and eventually scored the Dodgers’ first run, in the sixth. Vic Davalillo’s pinch-triple in the seventh came with two out, and Martinez followed with a fly-out to Sadek to end the inning. Lastly, Pedro Guerrero singled with one out in the ninth, but Lacy’s double play grounder ended that threat, and the game. I would say all three pinch-hits came in clutch situations (and two with the pitcher batting), as LA was down by just two runs.

      With Stretch now just one HR away, I’m inclined to play him more, to make sure he gets #500 before the season ends (in the actual ’78 season, he poked his 500th on June 30th). But Mike Ivie is the better hitter right now, so as soon as Mac can get the job done, Ivie will become the regular first baseman…especially with a tight division race going on. And my reaction to his home run? Like the Dodger Stadium faithful, I wasn’t sure if it was #499 or #500, so my exaltation was put on hold until I checked his stats. In the end, my reaction was just about the same as it was that sunny day in ’93 at County Stadium: ho-hum.

      And which Niekro should McCovey play against: Joe or Phil?

  2. It’s Phil . . . Stretch hit .205 with 2 doubles and was tater-free against brother Joe.

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