When you're going good you make a move in a late inning and discover quite by accident that your second baseman is a better shortstop and vice versa. When a team is streaking, it is a snare and a delusion (like Cleveland last year), and there is no chance that this Giant team is good enough to run away and hide from the National League. But when they reentered the atmosphere, their 12-game bubble punctured last Saturday by the Mets' barrage of small-arms fire (17 singles), there were reasons to believe they were still good enough to win. For one thing, it appears that Hal Lanier, who played second like a short fielder in softball, can play shortstop like a shortstop. He has to crank up to make a long throw, but so far he has made it, and his range is beyond question. Thus Tito Fuentes, thrust into a pennant race as a rookie shortstop last August and traumatized by the experience, has found happiness at second base and the Giants make double plays. Lanier may never hit but Fuentes has, lately, and with the Mays-Hart-McCovey power nucleus intact that could be enough.
If the Giants did not lose the 1965 pennant around second base, they left it in the bullpen. Now they are so deep in pitching that they are a bit short of non-pitchers (they ran out of them in the eighth inning of last week's 17-inning struggle with the Mets). But they are also so deep in pitching that they will outlast some people when the doubleheader season arrives. At the moment Bob Shaw and Ron Herbel, winners of 28 games between them last year, are almost superfluous.
That is because Giants' Vice-President Charles S. (Chub) Feeney always answers the phone when Vice-President John Holland of the Chicago Cubs calls. In what may be one of the cuter heists of the decade, the Giants last winter got Pitcher Lindy McDaniel and useful Outfielder Don Landrum for Bill Hands and Randy Hundley, and if you don't know who they are you get the point. Thus, with lefty Bill Henry and righty Frank Linzy, the Giants can now maneuver like other people, and Coach Larry Jansen strutted his stuff in Pittsburgh.
Marichal was ragged (i.e., he walked a man), so Jansen kept getting pitchers ready. When Henry got up in the sixth inning, he was the fifth pitcher to get warm. Marichal almost never needs help, and he didn't. The display was muscle-flexing, like May Day in Red Square, but Jansen is nouveau riche.
Details, details. When you're going good none of them matter. Then, over the weekend, the Mets got nasty and shot down Cloud 9. The Giants were still playing better than .700 ball, which no team ever did without winning the pennant. They still had a three-and-a-half-game lead, and all they could see over their shoulders was Houston. That's good, but not the same as going good. The Giants also had a three-game engagement with the Dodgers, the only team they really fear and the only reason they were so extravagant as to give Orlando Cepeda to the St. Louis Cardinals for left-hander Ray Sadecki. The Giants are still stinging from the terrorism wrought by Maury Wills & Co. last year, when San Francisco opened the season with only one left-hander—one they didn't want to use—and could find no help but superannuated Warren Spahn.
A left-hander, you see, can make the Dodgers' switch-hitters bat right-handed, taking a step and a half away from them. A left-hander can hold the Dodger speed boys on first base. A left-hander also can be on the spot when his principal occupation is beating the team that's the team to beat.
"It's like any other trade," Sadecki said, and then conceded that it wasn't. He came to San Francisco in a this-year trade, the calculated-risk kind of move the Giants characteristically make when they believe they can win the pennant now with one added ingredient. In the spring of 1959 they gave up Bill White, a potential superstar, for Sam Jones, and that almost worked. Sam, the toughest of competitors, did about all one man could do for one team but it wasn't enough. The Giants went good, then went bad, and in the final week Sam wept alone in the dugout in Chicago after throwing the home-run ball that was the beginning of the end. He had won 21 games, and he had failed.
"There is a pressure," said Sadecki. "But I'm not much of a worrier." Having gone good, the Giants may go bad again. But at least we shall not have to see a man cry.