It was supposed to be Old Timers Day in Oakland, but it turned out to be the Day of the Rookies, especially the Giants September call-up Jarrett Parker. Just hours after hitting what may well be the longest homer to center field in Oakland Coliseum history last night, he launched one, two, three more home runs, the last one a grand slam that won the game, 14-10.
Parker has hit six homers in 17 at bats. But he wasn't the only rookie to shine: Kelby Tomlinson had four hits and an RBI, catcher Trevor Brown had three and Matt Duffy had two and an RBI. But Parker's 3 home runs and 7 RBIs were the most of any Giants rookie in history, and the most for any Giants player since Willie Mays in 1961.
The Old Timers were starting pitchers Tim Hudson (SF) and Barry Zito (Oakland.) Both had started their careers with Oakland in the 90s and won many games there, and both got World Series rings with SF in this decade. Both are finishing their final season.
But the game didn't follow the storybook. Hudson had a 7 pitch first inning but fell apart completely in the second, unable to find the strike zone. He walked in two runs and hit a batter for a third. Zito gave up 4 runs to the Giants in his first inning. Both came out early, both got ovations, but very quickly Old Timers Day was over.
Their ineffectiveness only began what looked to be a clownish game, with sloppy play and the novelty act of the A's "switch-pitching" reliever, who throws left or right according to the hitter. Jarrett Parker had his clown moment in left field when he fought the sun glare and tripped over his own feet to let a fly ball fall.
But Parker changed everything with his second and third homers. Last night he faced the A's reliever named Dull and hit that titanic home run into the center field upper deck, for one of the longest home runs by anyone this season. The very next pitch he saw from Dull was in this game, and he smacked it for another epic shot, a grand slam homer that gave the Giants their four run lead.
Meanwhile, the Pirates kept the pressure on with a 4-0 victory over the Cubs, behind pitcher Francisco Liriano. However, the Cards took a commanding lead in Milwaukee when their game started later. So the Pirates didn't gain on them. If they can manage not to fall back by the end of Sunday, then they could tie St. Louis for first with a sweep next week. At the very least, they've demonstrated that their best pitchers can dominate the Cubs. That fact and their experience could provide an edge in the wild card game, still the most likely scenario.