Fright-Day

April 17

And now, another movie analogy.

In the movie sequel “Next Friday,” Ice Cube ends up at his cousin’s house in the ‘burbs and barely escapes a dicey situation at the neighbor’s house, occupied by a Mexican parolee named Joker. It didn’t look good for a while until the guard dog was fed sweets, and ‘Cube beat the crap out of the little gangleader with the help of his uncle, introducing Joker to the verb “dormir,” ( to sleep. ) ‘Cube gets with the little guy’s fine sister, setting up the sequel “Friday After Next.”

That was not unlike the Sharks’ escape Friday at The Tank. We’ll see how the series and post-season pans out, but that might end up being the second most significant win in franchise history, outside of the Game 7 1994 win over the Red Wings. Falling behind 2-0 after home losses to an inferior team would set up another first round exit, and a summertime of house-cleaning. Instead, the Sharks set themselves up for a sequel. They go to Colorado tied 1-1 but with some momentum after a stirring 6-5 overtime win.

That doesn’t mean they’re Stanley Cup-ready. Evgeni Nabokov allowed five goals on 22 shots and still looks shaky. The team’s other supposed “stars,” Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley, haven’t made a huge impact yet. But the team showed some badly needed spark and fire, thanks mostly to younger stars such as Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski and Ryan Clowe. Tying a game five times, the last with 30 seconds left in regulation with the goalie pulled, then winning in overtime, is something special.

The good news is the Sharks seemed to solve the Avalanche’s neutral-zone trap. The bad news is they were caught with their pants down on defense far too often, and Nabby was not the stone wall you need in the playoffs. The Red Wings and Blackhawks aren’t shaking in their skates watching tape of this game, but this Sharks team is different from last year’s in one respect — last year’s team would have withered away after falling behind so often in a crucial game like Friday night’s, instead of continually coming back.

The Sharks need to take this momentum into Colorado. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get more physical. I wonder what “Baby D” is doing these days? That woman still scares me.

***

The Baseball Code was consulted several times during the Giants-Dodger game last night, but it did not always apply.

I know Giants fans are angry Vicente Padilla hit Aaron Rowand in the face with a pitch, which led to a couple of facial fractures. It came after the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp got an Academy Award for a Todd Wellemeyer “brush-back.” I’m sure Rihanna was proud of that. It looked like Padilla, a known head-hunter, was “retaliating.”

A couple of things don’t add up, though. Padilla had already given up two runs in a 7-2 game and had a couple of runners on before Rowand stepped to the plate in the 5th with one out. Drilling Rowand to load the bases was not what he wanted to do. Padilla was bailed out when the pinch-runner for Rowand, Eugenio Velez, strayed too far off first on a line drive by Edgar Renteria for a double play. More about that in a minute.

Padilla has struggled to get out of the 5th inning this season, and was on the ropes when he hit Rowand. The Giants didn’t seem to think he was head-hunting, but that doesn’t mean reliever Waldis Joaquin shouldn’t have gone after a Dodger hitter in the next inning. That’s a part of the Baseball Code I would have supported in a 7-2 game. When your guy goes to the hospital, a retaliation is not unexpected.

It didn’t happen. Either Joaquin didn’t have the stones to make it happen or the Giants didn’t want to give a free pass. All I’m saying is, keep an eye on this one, especially the next time Padilla faces the Giants. Or, if Tim Lincecum has a lead today, I could see a baseball in someone’s ribs or backside. But not the head.

As for Velez, he hit a stat-padding three-run homer to make it 10-8 in the ninth inning, but he might well have cost the Giants a real shot at this game with his high school-level baserunning blunder in the 5th. There is NO excuse for the trail runner being so far off first base, on a line drive or in any other situation. Especially when your on-deck hitter is Pablo Sandoval.

What did Sandoval do in the sixth? Hit a home run. That’s not to say he would have hit a grand slam in the fifth, but Padilla was clearly on the ropes and was either going to be cannon fodder for Sandoval, or Joe Torre would have been forced to go to his bullpen, which has been hot garbage so far this season.

I hear people call Velez a “kid,” and that sometimes you have to put up with mistakes because he’ll do something great later on in the game. I’m sorry, Velez is no longer a kid, and that kind of baserunning mistake should not be made by ANY major-leaguer. In fact, I apologize to high-schoolers. Even their coaches tell them to freeze on a line drive.

Later in the game, the Baseball Code was invoked again when the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp stole a base with a 9-3 lead. Kemp had earlier homered, further ensuring a fun night with Rihanna. But I don’t think the Code applies to the stolen base. A six-run lead in the modern game is not insurmountable. The Dodgers were either demonstrating respect for the Giants offense, or a healthy disrespect for their own bullpen, figuring a six-run lead was not a lock. They were proven correct later in the game as the Giants came back for five runs in the 9th, but fell short 10-8.

One other thing: Todd Wellemeyer. He looked great in Arizona but awful last night. A #5 starter is never going to blow anyone away, and Wellemeyer probably wasn’t going to hold down the spot all season long, but his clock may have sped up and the Giants may be searching for a replacement very soon. Either that, or take advantage of the off-days and accordion your top four starters.

All in all, a very bad start to the series for the Giants and a very unhappy birthday for Bruce Bochy. It was more like Friday the 13th, not the 16th. But then again, you have a Tim Lincecum for moments like these.

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