The swing of Giants catcher Curt Casali on a fastball in the seventh inning could barely pass the wall in the left midfield. It filled San Francisco’s lead over Oakland and gave the 36,928 viewers exactly what they had been longing for: a moment of pure, communal exuberance. On Friday evening, sports fans in the Bay Area were allowed to come together for the first time since 2019 unencumbered by COVID-19 restrictions.
Jake Purves, who was in town just outside Sacramento and standing above right midfield, turned around and raised both arms to the sky.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: San Francisco Giants 3rd Base Coach Ron Wotus congratulates Curt Casali after his solo home run against the Oakland Athletics in the seventh inning, Friday June 25, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group)
We were all a little wet from the fountain mist that rained on the standing fans.
« It definitely feels like it’s back to normal, » Purves said. « I was just on the outfield with the crowd I had and I haven’t felt that kind of live personal energy since before COVID. »
If you’ve been missing something in the past 16 months, chances are it was found in Oracle Park on Friday night.
The Mayors of San Francisco and Oakland were in attendance for a rare ceremonial first pitch that lived up to its name.
There was even a marriage proposal (she said yes).
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: Sergio Romo of Oakland Athletics and Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, pose for a picture with the manager of the San Francisco Giants, Gab e Kabler and the Mayor of San Francisco London after they breed on Friday threw the first pitches of the Bay Bridge series on June 25, 2021, at Oracle Park in San Francisco, California (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group)
Purves and his friend Stephan Raeth, who is after high school -Career playing Acalane’s baseball at the University of Washington decided on a whim to participate on Friday night. Exactly the kind of unplanned excursion the Californians have back in their second week of newfound normalcy.
Before Friday, Giants fans had to prove they had been vaccinated against COVID-19 to sit shoulder to shoulder. Attendance was limited to 22% of the normal capacity of more than 41,000 Oracle Park.
Athletics fans commuting across the bay in droves got the first opportunity to make noise. But the home audience got the last laugh.
Giants starter Johnny Cueto escaped early trouble and delivered seven shutout innings in front of the almost sold out stadium.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: San Francisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto laughs in the first inning from the field after scoring during the first game of the Bay Bridge Series with the Oakland Athletics, Friday, 25, 2021, at Oracle Park in San Francisco , Calif. (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group) Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group
“He’s a showman. He feeds on high-energy situations, ”said Casali, the catcher of the Giants. “Fans can really give us energy. It is really incredible. For Johnny, who may have had problems on his last two starts, it really gave him an extra dose of adrenaline. »
The crowd first came to life when Oakland loaded the bases into the top of the second.
A chant of « Let’s go Oakland » broke the murmur of the early innings. With two outs and loaded bases, Matt Olson worked to 2-2 against Johnny Cueto. The crowd broke out once over a foul; then it did it again when Cueto Olson rocked the next pitch to erase the threat.
« It was fun going back and forth, » Purves said. « I missed that last year. »
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On the last beat of the evening, manager Gabe Kapler was able to relax. Friday evening was a premiere for him too: in a season and a half as the skipper of San Francisco, he was in front of a full home crowd for the first time.
Until her last out, Chad Pinder of the Athletics jumped in as a pinch hitter and the potential bond run. The crowd stood up. Four pitches later, Pinder swung his way through a fastball from Jake McGee, and Giants fans began celebrating a win to open the Bay Bridge Series.
“We saw last year that (Pinder) can change the game in one fell swoop. I think our fans recognized that, ”said Kapler. “I took a break there at the very end and saw all the fans on their feet. I think it was something special for the players on the bench and all of us as employees. «
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