SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy walked into the interview room at AT&T Park at 2:20 a.m. Tuesday morning. He looked up and smiled.
“You guys are still here?” he asked reporters.
Many people were, because of a decision made by both teams and Major League Baseball hours earlier. The rain and lightning hit AT&T Park twice on Monday night, but the teams stuck it out. Bochy said it was actually a pretty easy decision.
The grounds crew was confident that the sky was going to clear up as midnight approached, but there was less confidence about the ability to play a split doubleheader Tuesday or Wednesday. The teams discussed playing two on Wednesday, but more rain is on the way, and the Dodgers did not want to give up their travel day on Thursday. It’s mid-September and neither team wanted to travel later in the month to set up a makeup game.
So, at 10:50 p.m., Ty Blach took the ball that had once belonged to Chris Stratton. When the second delay hit the hour-mark, Bochy decided not to take any risks with Stratton’s promising arm. Blach started getting ready, and he did so eagerly. It turns out this wasn’t a new assignment for him.
“Last year in Triple-A we played a doubleheader and the first pitch (of the second game) was at 10:45,” Blach said, beaming. “It was the same boat.”
Blach’s night didn’t last long, but he helped steer the Giants to an early lead. They held on for an 8-6 win over the Dodgers, who have dropped 11 straight for the first time since moving to Los Angeles. The latest gut-punch became official at 2:11 a.m.
If you’re going to wait up that late, you might as well add some pain for your rivals. The Giants did that, and afterward it was a boisterous clubhouse. Here are some highlights from a wild night at AT&T Park:
--- Denard Span had a Splash Hit homer and drove in three runs while starting in the No. 3 spot for the second time in his career. The previous game in 2011 was because some of Minnesota’s big bats were hurt and his manager didn't want to mess with a hot leadoff hitter. Span said he was surprised by the text from Bochy earlier Monday. Hunter Pence moved up to the leadoff spot and had three hits and two runs.
“We made Boch look like a genius,” Span said, smiling. “Maybe if we did that 80 games ago …”
Span said he took the mentality of “just F it. It’s late, I’m hitting third, I was like, ‘Is this a real game?’”
He helped win it for the Giants, and he was happy with the way the night turned out.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to be ready all the time,” he said. “We’re blessed to be playing. We get paid a lot of money to play. That’s what stuck in my mind. We’re blessed.”
Span was blessed by one other part of this night: The seagulls never returned after the second delay.
--- There was technically a third delay. When Blach took the mound, he had to wait for a tractor to speed off the field. This night had it all.
--- Blach sprinted on and off the field as he always does. He had a smile on his face as he warmed up at 10:30
“Any time you get to play this game, you bring the energy,” Blach said.
--- The starting pitcher always speaks to the media, but it was Blach who took the podium instead of Stratton. As Stratton went to get food, he took some heckling from his fellow pitchers. Stratton had thrown just five pitches, striking out Curtis Granderson.
“You don’t want to talk tonight, Strat?” Jeff Samardzija yelled.
“Yeah,” Matt Cain added. “Tell them about your out.”
--- The teams combined to use 40 players. Still, they had 21 remaining. September baseball is really strange and they should probably tweak the rules. Either way, this one is in the record books, and the Giants and Dodgers will hope for better weather later today. Bochy said it will be a “show-and-go” day for the Giants. No batting practice, no early stretching — show up and try to add some more misery for a Dodger franchise that’s in a stunning free fall.
That made this night worth it for the Giants. They got the win, so it didn’t matter how long they had to wait. As he walked out of the interview room, Bochy smiled again.
“We have breakfast in the clubhouse if anyone wants it,” he cracked.