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GOING FLAT-OUT IN CALIFORNIA
Ron Fimrite
August 14, 1978
Before howling crowds in Candlestick Park, those two bitter rivals, the Giants and the Dodgers, split a rousing four-game series in a vain attempt to determine who was the best in the West
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August 14, 1978

Going Flat-out In California

Before howling crowds in Candlestick Park, those two bitter rivals, the Giants and the Dodgers, split a rousing four-game series in a vain attempt to determine who was the best in the West

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The nationally televised game, played before 49,203, served notice that in 21-year-old Bob Welch the Dodgers have a rookie pitcher who, in the opinion of Manager Tom Lasorda, "can be another Don Drysdale." Throwing a wicked fastball, Welch shut out the Giants on nine hits and squelched a ninth-inning rally by striking out Clark, who was pinch-hitting, on three straight high hard ones. The win snapped a six-game Dodger losing streak—their longest since 1973—five of the losses being by one run.

It was Welch's third win since being called up from Albuquerque in June, and the shutout reduced his earned run average to 1.71. "There's no reason for me to act like a rookie, even though I am a rookie, said Welch after the win. I mean, I can't go out there and say, 'Oh gosh, the big leagues.' The worst thing a pitcher can have is no confidence."

Dodger Vice-President Al Campanis says what Welch has is "inner conceit," and he considers it invaluable. The Giants may have some of that, too. With each critical game in a rapidly expiring season they seem to grow more confident. They have established that their pitching, with a staff ERA of 3.14, is the best in their league and probably the best in baseball. And Clark, Madlock, Whitfield and the off-the-bench flash, Mike Ivie, are all hitting better than .300. Obviously they also subscribe to the message crudely inscribed on a wall of the passageway between the Giant clubhouse and dugout: "Nevah Give Up!" And as a team with more than the ordinary complement of born-again Christians—playing in a notoriously sinful city, at that—they appear convinced that the so-called Big Dodger in the Sky who watched so benignly over their opponents a year ago has come over to their side now. Only divine intervention, in the opinion of the devout Ivie, can account for the Giants' penchant for turning adversity to advantage. "Too many things are happening our way," he says, "too many good things. You just have to believe we're being watched." As the Dodgers must now ruefully concede, San Francisco has a team that indeed bears watching.

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