Well, we can at least say this about the 2011 Giants: They know how to make a 9-2 thumping exciting.
The Giants dropped a second straight game to the Phillies on Friday in San Francisco, but the real story was the dust-up in the sixth inning after Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez hit Shane Victorino with a pitch.
With the Phillies leading 8-2 with two on and two out in the sixth, Ramirez hit Victorino square in the back with his first pitch.
Victorino took a couple of steps toward the mound, but stopped. Giants catcher Eli Whiteside popped up to put himself between Victorino and Ramirez, who was walking toward Victorino after tossing aside his glove.
The situation seemed about ready to cool down, but after Whiteside put himself between Victorino and Ramirez, he was hopping around like Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston, his head on a swivel, looking for any Phillie who might come at Ramirez. When Placido Polanco, who was on first base, got within a 10-foot radius of Ramirez, Whiteside tackled him, and the scrum was on.
There was some pushing and shoving, but nothing too serious, until Victorino, who was being held away from the scrum, got away and dove back into the pile.
Ramirez, Whiteside and Victorino were all ejected.
But the big question is: Why was Ramirez throwing at Victorino?
Whiteside said he wasn’t.
“I called for a fast ball inside, and it was a little too far inside,” Whiteside said.
Well, actually, it got a lot inside.
“I have no comment on the fight. … I played a little quarterback in high school,” Whiteside added.
Apparently, he wasn’t a very good quarterback, because his tackling form was textbook perfect.
Victorino thought he was being thrown at. That’s why he stepped toward Ramirez, to get an answer as to why.
Well, here are some possible explanations.
THE STOLEN BASE: Ah, yes, those unspoken rules. After Jimmy Rollins scored two with a two-out single, making it 8-2, the Phillies shortstop stolen second on Ramirez’s first pitch to Polanco. If Ramirez was upset about this, he didn’t show it. He paid no attention to Rollins at first (maybe because it was 8-2), and Rollins stole second without a throw. And if the Giants were upset, at what point did they get upset? Ramirez threw five more pitches to Polanco before he reached on a swinging bunt. Then came the pitch to Victorino. Carlos Beltran insinuated that Rollins’ breach of etiquette could have been a contributing factor. “I would not have done it,” Beltran said of the stolen base with a six-run lead. Of course, who was the last Giant to join the scrum? Carlos Beltran.
FRUSTRATION: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said frustration by Ramirez led to the confrontation. “I think he was getting hit and he got mad and he was going to plunk somebody,” Manuel said. Maybe a better explanation. It was a frustrating inning for Ramirez. After getting the first out, he walked Raul Ibanez and gave up a single to John Mayberry. That was followed by an RBI single by catcher Brian Schneider, who was hitting .170. Pitcher Vance Worley was out on a nice catch by Whiteside on a bunt attempt. But then Ramirez helped the Phillies by throwing a wild pitch. Then came Rollins’ single and it was suddenly a three-run inning.
UTLEY FACTOR: It also could be the Ramirez wanted to throw at Chase Utley, who was a central figure in the scrum at last season’s NLCS. Utley normally bats third in the lineup. But Friday, with Ryan Howard sitting out, Utley was batting cleanup and Victorino was batting third. So maybe Ramirez just got confused. It’s as good a reason as any.
Regardless of the reason, it provided a little drama to a blowout at AT&T Park.