SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Taylor Tankersley knew the stakes. One mistake and he could be the pitcher who gave up Barry Bonds' record-tying 755th home run.
Instead of approaching that daunting scenario with fear, Tankersley wanted to go right after the San Francisco Giants slugger Friday night. He did that by throwing two straight strikes to open the at-bat before he started nibbling for the third and allowed Bonds' fourth walk of the game.
e and see if you can get him out. It's cool to me. It's not anything I want to shy away from.''
After that first-inning blast off Rick Vanden Hurk gave Bonds 754 homers in his career, he swung the bat only three more times in his final four trips to the plate. Vanden Hurk walked him twice, Renyel Pinto walked him a third time before Tankersley issued his free pass in the eighth inning.
Both Vanden Hurk and Tankersley went to full counts against Bonds, but couldn't get that final strike.
``You try to maybe be a little too perfect because he's such a great hitter,'' Vanden Hurk said. ``You maybe try to be a little too perfect and nibble too much.''
For Vanden Hurk, a rookie who pitched on this same mound less than three weeks ago in the All-Star Futures Game, it was the first time he had ever seen Bonds in person. Vanden Hurk followed Bonds' career while growing up in Holland and said his friends back home in a country more interested in cycling and soccer are very aware of what the slugger is doing.
``Obviously he's got that record going on,'' Vanden Hurk said. ``Everybody back home knows about it. Probably everybody in the world knows about it.''
The next pitcher scheduled to face Bonds has seen him in person plenty of times. Dontrelle Willis grew up just across San Francisco Bay in Alameda and remembers sitting in the cold watching Bonds hit home runs at Candlestick Park.
``I'm a big fan of him,'' Willis said. ``He's given me a lot of advice about the game. He's a great athlete. I always like the way he's played. I was lucky to see a bunch of games at Candlestick when he first came here. He's doing the same thing he was doing then. He made me want to get to the big leagues.''
In seven career plate appearances against Willis, Bonds has singled once and walked four times. Willis did strike Bonds out the last time they faced each other on Aug. 25, 2004, but the stars have not crossed paths since. Willis said he hopes he doesn't become the 445th pitcher to give up a homer to Bonds.
``I've thrown fastballs to him,'' Willis said. ``You also don't want to tell him what your plan of attack is. I'm just going out there and have fun. And whatever happens happens. I just hope my family isn't here to see me give up a homer to him.''
Willis and Bonds have become friends during the times they have interacted. Willis said Bonds always seeks him out when their teams play and the two have great respect for each other.
``He's one of the few players that can see three pitches in a weekend and hit three home runs,'' Willis said. ``I was always a big fan of his even when he was in Pittsburgh. Everyone gave me a hard time for being fans of him. When he came here he electrified the city and he didn't let us down.''
Bonds won five MVP awards since joining the Giants, hit 578 homers and led the Giants to the postseason four times. But he has never gone deep against Willis.
Willis has another worry other than Bonds on Saturday night. The two-time All-Star has lost a career-high seven straight decisions and has not won in 10 appearances since beating the Cubs on May 29.
Advertisement

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Cards' Garcia gets another shot at redemption The Cardinals have endured a profoundly disappointing season at home. But can they do enough in the final week of the regular campaign to make the...
Thumbnail Yankees aspire to steal one from Blue Jays Mired in an eight-game losing streak at Rogers Centre, do the Yankees have enough wherewithal to salvage their series finale vs....
Thumbnail Pirates in desperation mode against Cubs Having reached the 99-win plateau for the first time since 1935, will the Cubs hit the century mark tonight?
Thumbnail Tigers vs. Indians Pick The Cleveland Indians look to lock up the AL Central title on the road when they face the Detroit Tigers today at...
Thumbnail Cards, Cubs ready for last regular-season bout   In arguably their most important contest of the season, it’s only fitting that the Cardinals turn to the man who’s fast becoming the team’s new ace.
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages