SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Birmingham game turns into tribute to baseball legend Willie Mays

Jun 20, 2024, 7:30 AM

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 18: An image of Willie Mays is displayed on the video board while everyone...

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

The death of baseball legend Willie Mays heightens the emotions for the special game between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday.

Major League Baseball is staging the game as a tribute to Negro Leagues stars such as Mays, who played for the Birmingham Black Barons at Rickwood in 1948 before signing with the Giants.

Mays died Tuesday at the age of 93.

More on Willie Mays & Giants vs. Cardinals

“Obviously, we wish he was here with us to see it, but he’ll be watching over the game,” Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski said, according to MLB.com. “It’s definitely one of those times to reflect on the important things in life. He had such an impact on this game and on so many people. To be able to be involved in a celebration for him is an incredibly humbling experience.”

The event gives today’s players an opportunity to reflect on the sport’s history.

“It means the world to me, and to my stepdad, who came into my life early on and taught me about the history of Black baseball players and their significance in our community,” rookie Cardinals shortstop Masyn Winn told MLB.com. “He told me about what it means to represent the African-American community. So playing in this game, it’s going to be amazing.”

The Giants petitioned MLB to activate LaMonte Wade Jr. from the injured list for just one game so he could play in Birmingham, but the request was denied.

San Francisco has lost four of its past six games, including each of the past two after the death of Mays, a franchise legend.

The Cardinals won five of six games through Monday to climb over .500 for the first time since early April, but they also have lost their past two.

The Giants will start Keaton Winn (3-7, 6.66 ERA), who had a no-decision in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday in his latest start. The right-hander allowed three runs on five hits, including two homers, in six innings while striking out six and walking two.

In his previous four starts, Winn gave up 24 runs on 23 hits in 12 2/3 innings. He rebounded by mixing an effective splitter with a high-90s fastball.

“Honestly, it was just becoming more synced with myself,” Winn said. “I threw a lot of slide-steps (vs. the Angels), and I think that really helped sync everything up.”

In his one previous career appearance against St. Louis, Winn earned a four-inning save during his major league debut on June 13, 2023. He allowed one run on one hit and three walks while fanning two.

The Cardinals will start Andre Pallante (2-3, 4.61 ERA), who has a 3.63 ERA in four starts after posting a 6.30 ERA in nine relief outings earlier this season.

The right-hander didn’t last long in his most recent start. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings during a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

Pallante is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four career appearances against the Giants, all in relief.

The Cardinals’ pitching scenario was complicated by the loss of starter Kyle Gibson on Wednesday. The veteran returned from bereavement leave for his scheduled start against the host Miami Marlins but wound up getting scratched because of back stiffness.

Reliever Matthew Liberatore replaced him in what became a bullpen start. That change could trigger additional moves to freshen the Cardinals’ bullpen, including the activation of reliever Giovanny Gallegos (shoulder impingement) from the injured list.

St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado exited the Wednesday game due to a right elbow contusion after being hit in the arm by a pitch. X-rays were negative.

“I feel OK,” Arenado said, according to MLB.com. He added, “Hopefully there’s no (injured-list) stint, but, you know, it’s gonna probably be a few days. So hopefully I can get back Saturday.”

–Field Level Media

Upcoming schedule for the San Francisco Giants

  • Thursday, June 20th-Sunday, June 23rd – @ St. Louis Cardinals
  • Monday, June 24th-Thursday, June 27th – vs. Chicago Cubs
  • Friday, June 28th-Sunday, June 30th – vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Tuesday, July 2nd-Thursday, July 4th – @ Atlanta Braves
  • Friday, July 5th-Sunday, July 7th – @ Cleveland Guardians

Thank you for reading SactownSports.com. Follow us on Twitter and Google News, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Newsletter

San Francisco Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 5: Robbie Ray (23) of the San Francisco Giants is introduced duri...

Frankie Cartoscelli

Robbie Ray to debut for SF Giants this week

2021 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray will make his season debut for the San Francisco Giants this week.

22 hours ago

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 22: LaMonte Wade Jr. #31 of the San Francisco Giants dives safely to...

Field Level Media

Giants look to answer Hernandez, Dodgers as series continues

The San Francisco Giants will look to get back into the win column against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

22 hours ago

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 22: Teoscar Hernández #37 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a home ru...

Field Level Media

Teoscar Hernandez knocks in three as Dodgers down Giants

Teoscar Hernandez drove in all three Dodgers runs during the a 3-2 LA Dodgers victory over the visiting San Francisco Giants on Monday.

23 hours ago

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 3: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides home to scor...

Field Level Media

SF Giants to face Dodgers in four-game series

The San Francisco Giants will begin a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

2 days ago

DENVER, COLORADO - JULY 21: Hayden Birdsong #60 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the first in...

Field Level Media

Birdsong fans 12 as Giants beat Rockies

The San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 in Denver on Sunday behind an electric start from rookie Hayden Birdsong.

2 days ago

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 13: Hayden Birdsong #60 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the...

Field Level Media

Giants’ Hayden Birdsong looks to make impression vs. Rockies

Hayden Birdsong and the San Francisco Giants will look to get back into the win column on Sunday vs. the Colorado Rockies.

3 days ago

Birmingham game turns into tribute to baseball legend Willie Mays