|Rookie pitcher avoids giving up Bonds' record-breaking home run|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 August 2007 20:19|
The rookie left-hander made certain he didn't become part of another, holding Bonds hitless Monday night and leaving the San Francisco slugger tied with Hank Aaron for the career home run record.
Bonds went 0-for-3 with a walk against Washington, striking out in his final at-bat against Lannan and failing to hit homer No. 756 in the Giants' 3-2, 11-inning win.
``I was just trying to keep my composure and follow the game plan,'' Lannan said. ``I was just trying to keep the team in it and go out there and make my pitches.''
That final at-bat with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh inning was the most dramatic. Lannan fell behind 3-1 to Bonds, but still challenged him.
Lannan threw an 89 mph fastball by the slugger and then struck him out on a curveball, showing rare poise for a newcomer.
``I thought he pitched him well the whole game,'' said manager Manny Acta, who showed confidence in Lannan by keeping him in the game to face Bonds that final time.
Lannan avoided going down in the record books with Al Downing, who gave up Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run 33 years ago. Downing won 123 games and pitched in three World Series in a 17-year career, but most people only know him for the one pitch he threw to Aaron on April 8, 1974.
Bonds hit 753 career home runs before Lannan made his major league debut. And what a memorable one it was on July 26.
Lannan allowed a home run to Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, then got ejected in the fifth inning after hitting Chase Utley - breaking his hand - and Howard in consecutive at-bats.
That made Lannan just the fifth player ever to be ejected in his major league debut and the first since Aaron Boone on June 20, 1997.
Acta said before this game that he wasn't worried about any long-term psychological damage if one of his young pitchers happened to give up Bonds' record-setting homer.
``I don't think that will hurt their development at all,'' Acta said. ``I don't see what the problem is with people having their name linked to history. He has to hit it off somebody. And I personally know Jack Billingham, who gave up the one to Hank to tie it. Jack didn't go to jail. He's at home. He's retired. He's collecting his major league pension. It's fine.
``A lot of people are making it out to be like you're going to be deported from the country or something. I know a lot of them are saying that they don't want to be the guy to do it but someone has to.''
The next Nationals pitcher looking to keep Bonds in the park will be left-hander Mike Bacsik (5-6, 4.19 ERA), who has held Bonds hitless in two at-bats with a walk.
Lannan, a 22-year-old born in Long Beach, N.Y., was on a big stage in just his third major league appearance. In front of a packed stadium that included his parents and a national television audience, Lannan walked two of the first three hitters he faced and appeared to be a bit rattled.
``Every start I have I kind of have nerves,'' he said. ``I just go out there and try to make my pitches and try to settle down.''
He then started off Bonds with a called strike, showing he wouldn't back down. With the count 1-2, Lannan got Bonds to foul out to third base.
Lannan pitched around Bonds in the third, starting him with three straight balls before walking him on a 3-1 pitch. Lannan fell behind 2-0 to Bonds with a runner on first in the fifth, before getting him to hit into an unconventional 6-5-3 double play into a shifted defense.
``He's a pretty loose and relaxed kid,'' Acta said. ``The first day he was a little overwhelmed. Other than that he's handled everything very well. He has a good sense of humor and for the last week has acted like he belongs.''
He did that again Monday, allowing one run and eight hits in seven innings.
``I think the kid did a tremendous job,'' Acta said. ``It's not easy for a kid who started in A-ball this season with this crowd and everything.''