Cardinal closer Tom Henke says he was scared as he ran in from the Dodger Stadium bullpen the night of Aug. 10. The field was getting bombarded by souvenir baseballs thrown from the stands by the usually docile Dodger fans. Henke was almost hit more than once. "If you get hit in the head with a baseball that's thrown from the upper deck, you could get killed," Henke said. "It's plain and simple."
Plain and simple, it was a disgraceful scene that night in L.A. Three times during the game fans pelted the field with baseballs. After the third outburst, with one out in the ninth and St. Louis leading 2-1, the umpires forfeited the game to the Cardinals. It was the first forfeit in the major leagues since the infamous Disco Demolition Night in Chicago in 1979. But this happened in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers have been one of the classiest organizations in baseball history. Moreover, it could turn out to be a significant loss for the Dodgers in the battle for the National League West lead or in the wild-card race (page 50).
Said Henke, "I blame the Dodgers for what happened. They should have made an announcement that if the fans did it again, they would forfeit the game. The Dodgers lost control of the situation." Henke estimated that 200 to 300 balls were thrown on the field in the seventh inning (the Dodgers said it was more like 200 for the game). "I don't know how [Cardinal rightfielder] John Mabry didn't get hit," Henke said. "People say, 'Oh, they were just throwing them on the field,' but they were throwing them at players and umps. It was dangerous."
Bob Davidson, the umpires' crew chief, blamed Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda for inciting the crowd: "Lasorda instigated the whole damn thing by running out there, waving his fat little arms [while arguing the ejection of Raul Mondesi in the ninth]." But the umpires were hardly blameless either. Why didn't they demand that an announcement be made that the game would be forfeited if the ball-tossing continued? Also, some observers said it looked as if home plate umpire Jim Quick called a strike on Mondesi on a 3-1 pitch (even though the pitch was outside) because he was mad at Mondesi for showing him up on the previous pitch. Mondesi had started walking to first, thinking the 3-0 pitch was a ball, then walked back slowly to the plate when Quick called it a strike. After Mondesi struck out on a 3-2 pitch, he cursed at Quick and was ejected. That brought on the final wave of baseballs and the forfeit.
The best 8-7 pitcher in baseball is the ace of the Houston staff, Shane Reynolds. At week's end the 27-year-old righthander had a 2.90 ERA (eighth best in the league), was fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (8.5) and had allowed the second fewest walks per nine innings (1.3)....
Indian pitching coach Mark Wiley says Cleveland closer Jose Mesa (33 saves in 33 tries) is the "most dominating closer I've ever seen, and I saw Gossage and Fingers." Mesa's fastball regularly travels between 95 and 98 mph. "Batters know that he's going to throw the fastball, and they still can't hit it."
...With the go-ahead run at third base and one out in the 11th inning at Dodger Stadium last Saturday, Pirate rookie catcher Angelo Encarnacion blocked a pitch in the dirt, but he used his mask to scoop up the ball. It is illegal, according to Rule 7.05D, for a catcher to use his mask to touch a ball that's in play. Encarnacion was charged with an error, and the runner at third, Roberto Kelly, was sent home as the winning run. Last year Brave catcher Javy Lopez did the same thing, but the call wasn't made until Cardinal manager Joe Torre alerted the umpires to it....
From the Department of Weird Facts: When the Giants' William VanLandingham beat the Pirates' Jason Christiansen 4-3 on Aug. 9, history was made. The 25 letters in the surnames of the two pitchers of record was the most ever in a major league game.