NEITHER RAIN NOR a near-empty stadium (nor a league-worst Washington Nationals team vs. the Giants' iffy bullpen) prevented Giants pitcher Randy Johnson from winning his 300th career game Thursday.
The conditions were terribly sad for a significant milestone. But Johnson, a Livermore High School Cowboy, blocked out the elements in six impressive innings of work. He exited with a 2-1 lead, and the Giants used a three-run rally in the ninth to cushion their (Johnson's) 5-1 triumph.
Take a moment and appreciate this pitching milestone, especially because hitting milestones (see: 763 home runs, 3,000 hits) won't be as regaled because of the steroid-era's effect.
Great scene (via Comcast SportsNet) of the 6-foot-10 Johnson lurching down to hug his teammates in a reception line after the victory, which came a day after Wednesday's scheduled start got rained out.
An "exhausted" and subdued Johnson told Mike Krukow on the post-game broadcast: "It's nice to get the win, nice to have this moment with my family and friends that came, and my teammates. ... One word that would sum it up was persevere. I battled with mechanics early in my career and injuries later in my career. A game like this means a lot."
He allowed no earned runs, two hits, two walks and struck out two. Yes, deuces were wild Thursday, but not Johnson, who harnessed control problems as a prepster and evolved into only the 24th pitcher to hit the 300-win plateau.
Johnson took a no-hitter into the fifth and a shutout into the sixth, where he allowed a RBI double after an Edgar Renteria error. But the Giants led 2-1 when Johnson exited, and it was up to the hold-your-breath bullpen.
Sure enough, Johnson's 300th walked the plank in the bottom of the eighth, when the Nationals loaded the bases against Giants relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson. Adam Dunn struck out looking to end the rally.
So how are we back home supposed to celebrate this? Will he be honored at the Livermore Rodeo on June 13-14 (when the Giants will be hosting the A's)? Surely, the Giants can only do so much when they return from this 10-game road trip next week, and they aren't going to rename McCovey Cove in his honor.
Will Johnson (age: 45; throws: left) be the last pitcher to hit 300 wins? Before you say yes because of this era's pitch-count frenzy (see: A's coddling), baseball always seems to find a way to surprise us, and not always in pleasant ways.
As for whether Johnson garners any more respect for joining the 300-win club, let's just remind you what 305-winner Tom Glavine just endured: His release Wednesday from the Atlanta Braves.
* * * 49ers extend Staley * * *
The 49ers have made sure that left tackle Joe Staley will be under contract through 2017 to protect their quarterback(s) blindside(s). His six-year extension Thursday is a smart use of the 49ers' salary-cap space, because if they've identified him as their long-term pocket protector, lock him up as long as you can.
"I believe in what we have going here with the coaching staff and the whole franchise and I think it's very important if you are going to build a winning franchise to keep people around here for an extended period of time so you can get used to them," Staley said on a media conference call. "That's how you win games. So I'm excited to get this deal done, and now we can move forward and hopefully get some other guys signed here and move forward."
The 49ers' next move — other than trading for a bona fide quarterback, which is near impossible — is to lock up linebacker Patrick Willis, a two-time Pro Bowler in as many seasons.
"If you go two Pro Bowls in your first two years, I would think the club is doing everything to sign him, but I don't know," Staley said.
* * * Hall of Fame voting * * *
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has an online poll asking fans which former NFL coach deserves induction. The five listed: Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Bill Parcells and Mike Shanahan. Hey, what about two-time winning coaches George Seifert and Tom Flores? Cowher, Dungy and Holmgren each have only one Super Bowl win while Parcells and Shanahan have two.
Look for Cam Inman's Web-only "Candid Cam" takes whenever there's a breaking sports story, or whenever Cam's got something to say _ in short, just about every day. You can reach Cam at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.