Well, that felt good.
After two frustrating losses to the Dodgers, the Giants finally broke into the win column in 2011 with a 10-0 win on Saturday.
Apparently, the Giants read MoreSplashHits most recent post in which we detailed how the Giants have struggled to score runs without hitting a home run going all the way back to the World Series.
Well, on Saturday, the Giants scored 10 runs and nine of those runs scored without a home run.
The Giants drew walks, slapped hits, got runners over and got them in.
If there’s anything that we can be critical about the Giants on Saturday, it’s that they scored 10 runs when they only needed one.
Too bad we can’t get a little run equity.
The Giants only needed one run because Matt Cain was again brilliant, shutting out the Dodgers over six stellar innings. Cain could have gone farther, having throw 87 pitches through six innings. But with the Giants up 8-0, there was no point.
Freddy Sanchez was the star of the game. Hmm, somewhere I read about how Sanchez was swinging the bat better than any Giant in the early going. Can anyone remember where I read that?
Anyway, Sanchez went 3 for 4 with walk, double and the Giants’ lone home run. He also scored two runs and drove in three.
Miguel Tejada, starting in the leadoff spot for the first time in 12 years, went 2 for 5 with two runs and two RBI.
Mark DeRosa, making his first start of the year, went 2 for 5 with two runs, two RBI and a double.
Even Aaron Rowand had a solid game, going 2 for 5.
It was a great day all around, and Bruce Bochy was able to get all 13 position players on the roster into the game and at least one at-bat.
Now, the Giants look to get the split on Sunday night. Remember, the mantra: “Win series at home; play .500 on the road.” A 2-2 open series in L.A. would be a good series.
The Giants send Barry Zito to the mound, just a few days after he was involved in a late-night auto accident.
Well, that was more like it.
After getting smacked around some in his first spring start, Tim Lincecum threw three hitless innings on Tuesday as the Giants lost 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs.
“My location was better and I was mixing my pitches in and out,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t throw too many off-speed pitches. My rhythm felt quick the first two innings, and then I was able to calm it down in the third.”
Here are some other highlights:
MAD BUMMER: Madison Bumgarner followed Lincecum to the mound. He started with two more scoreless innings. But in his third inning, he gave up a run and left two runners on base when he was relieved by Dan Runzler. Runzler gave a two-run double to Aramis Ramirez with both runs being charged to Bumgarner.
MORE PANDA: Pablo Sandoval had two doubles in three RBI. Being patient at the plate paid off for Sandoval on Tuesday. He worked the count to 2-0 on Ryan Dempster in his first AB. Then went to left-center for a run-scoring double. Against Todd Wellemeyer, Sandoval took a 1-1 pitch and hit it 430 feet to center. That wasn’t enough to get it out of the park and it resulted in another double. Sandoval is 6 for 13 with two HRs, two doubles and five RBI this spring.
FREDDY SANCHEZ: Making his first spring starting, Sanchez went 0 for 3. But it included a liner out to first in his first at-bat. It’s good to see Freddy playing games on March 1. Barring any setbacks, he’ll be ready for opening day. More interesting about this debut was that Sanchez was at the leadoff spot. Andres Torres sat out again with a sore side. Aaron Rowand also was in the starting lineup, but Rowand was batting No. 8. Hopefully this is a sign that Bruce Bochy is done putting Rowand in the leadoff spot, even on days when Torres is not in the lineup. We hope.
At first glance at the stats, it may look like Freddy Sanchez is an adequate bunter.
Last season, Sanchez had eight sacrifice hits, tying a career high. He ranked sixth among non-pitchers in the NL for sacrifices. He had an 89 percent success rate on his sacrifice attempts, also a career best.
However, this success rate stat only includes bunts in play that did not advance the runner or bunt strikeouts. It does not include ABs in which a batter failed to get a bunt down early in the count, then later swung away.
There is not stat that we found for failing to bunt early, then swinging away. And MoreSplashHits can remember several ABs from Sanchez that went exactly like that, particularly in the postseason.
Sanchez led the Giants in SHs with eight. However, the Padres — attempt with similar offensive deficiencies as the Giants — had three hitters with seven or more SHs last season, led by David Eckstein’s 12.
When he was with the Pirates, Sanchez was often the team’s leading hitter and not asked to sacrifice much, only once attempting more than six. But as the Giants’ No. 2 hitter, he has been, and will be, asked to advance the runner with a bunt.
Sanchez knows how to handle a bat, evidenced by his success rate of advancing runners when he wasn’t bunting.
Last season, he made a productive out in 43 percent of his opportunities, well above the MLB average of 33 percent. He successfully got a runner home from third with less than two outs 63 percent of the time (MLB avg. 51 percent). He advanced a runner from second with no outs 49 percent of the time (MLB avg. 43 percent).
So Freddy, work on your bunting this spring. That is your resolution.
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez began his rehabilitation assignment at Class A San Jose by going 2 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI on Tuesday.
Sanchez, who has been battling shoulder and knee problems, grounded out and field out in his first two at-bats before hitting back-to-back doubles.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was encouraged by Sanchez’s start, but it looks as if he’s not making any predictions on when Sanchez will be with the big club. The last time he did that, we all thought Sanchez would be in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Padres.
So if Bochy won’t predict, More Splash Hits will. We would expect Sanchez back with the Giants on May 21 when the Giants open a series at Oakland, or May 25 when they open a homestand against the Nationals.
At first glance, Barry Zito’s outing Thursday looked like another hair-pulling, aggravating Zito-esque outing — five runs on seven hits on 74 pitches over three innings.
But there are two things to remember: One, it’s still preseason, so it doesn’t count; Two, Zito was very close to giving up just one run on Thursday.
That’s kind of Zito’s M.O. — he walks along a fine line between quality start and implosion.
Let’s take a close look at Zito’s three innings on Thursday.
In the first inning, things started out well enough, as Zito set down the first two batters he faced. But things began to go bad the way they usually do with Zito, with a two-out walk. Kevin Kouzmanoff followed with an RBI double off the right field wall. But then it looked like Zito would get out of the inning after going 0-2 on Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki turned on a Zito fastball, and ripped it foul down the left-field line. Zito tried to come inside again off the plate, presumably to set up a 1-2 curveball. But it caught too much of the plate and Suzuki yanked it out for a 3-0 lead.
Zito set down the side in order in the second.
Zito gave up two more runs in the third, but the first run was on Zito and the second should have been charged to manager Bruce Bochy.
Coco Crisp led off with a double to left. Zito tried to pick him off second (why???) and threw it away, sending Crisp to third.
Then Bochy decided it best to play the infield in with a runner on third and no one out. The brilliant strategy allowed Rajai Davis to reach on a bloop single that would have been caught by 2B Juan Uribe if he were playing at his normal position.
Davis then stole second and took third on the first out of the inning. With a runner on third and one out, Bochy again played the infield in and Kevin Kouzmanoff singled to left on a ground ball that would have a ground out to short if the infield were playing back.
The A’s got two more hits in the inning on balls that were not hit out of the infield before Zito escaped with no more damage.
So basically in the third, Zito gave up a clean double to Crisp and four singles on balls that all should have been outs.
LEWIS DL-BOUND? Fred Lewis appears headed for the DL to start the season with a rib injury that his limiting to little more than running work.
Lewis hit off a tee Thursday and reported he’ll need more time to get ready to play.
Bochy said the Giants wouldn’t push Lewis and would know more on his status in a couple of days.
Well, we’d hope so since the Giants face at 6 p.m. deadline Saturday to set their 25-man roster for the 2010 season.
Lewis said the injury is keeping him from taking full hacks at the ball, which isn’t a lot different from when he’s healthy.
And speaking of Lewis, check out this blog post by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle on Lewis and his OBP. There’s been a lot of chatter about how the Giants must keep and play Lewis because his OBP was about 100 points higher than his batting average.
We think Giant fans are just starved for ANYONE in the lineup who can show some plate discipline. But, as Schulman shows, Lewis gets his high walk total by striking out WAY TO MUCH (particularly on called third strikes), not to mention his struggles in the field. Great post Hank.
SANCHEZ DELAYED: Bochy said that 2B Freddy Sanchez won’t be ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment for another 3-4 weeks. That effectively takes Sanchez out of the Giants lineup until May at the earliest. Ugh.
Good thing we’ve got Juan Uribe.
You know, More Splash Hits, often sits around with bags of ice on his various aches and pains. You think maybe Brian Sabean would be willing to give us a few million to do that?
So after a winter of mystery and a spring of veiled projections, the Giants finally came out with a timetable on the return of second baseman Freddy Sanchez.
And it’s not great.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News that Sanchez’s first appearance with the Giants is “looking like the end of April or first of May.”
Bochy insisted that Sanchez has not been dealt a setback, and we guess we can believe that since the Giants NEVER really said when Sanchez would be ready for the season.
Currently, Sanchez has graduated from hitting off a tee to taking soft-toss batting practice. But with the month moving into its latter stages, it is looking more likely that Sanchez won’t be able to get into a Cactus League game this spring.
So, until Sanchez is ready, the Giants will turn to Juan Uribe at second base. So the good news is the Giants get Uribe’s bat into the lineup early. Uribe was one of the Giants’ better run producers last season, although he’s scuffled a bit this spring.
Bochy appears to be leaning of using Edgar Renteria in the No. 2 hole while Sanchez is mending. That likely will produce a lineup that looks like this:
CF Aaron Rowand (RH)
SS Edgar Renteria (RH)
3B Pablo Sandoval (SH)
1B Aubrey Huff (LH)
LF Mark DeRosa (RH)
C Bengie Molina (RH)
2B Juan Uribe (RH)
RF Nate Schierholtz (LH)
Now, when More Splash Hits first heard this before the start of spring training, we cringed. After watching Renteria struggle last season, we were convinced the Giants would be better with the following lineup:
CF Aaron Rowand
LF Mark DeRosa
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Aubrey Huff
2B Juan Uribe
C Bengie Molina
LF Nate Schierholtz
SS Edgar Renteria
MSH is still not convinced that this lineup wouldn’t be the better one. But after watching Renteria play Saturday against the Reds, we’re less worried about having Renteria in the No. 2 hole.
Renteria’s procedure last winter to remove bone chips in his elbow seems to have paid off. On Saturday, Renteria pulled on an inside pitch and spanked it over the left-field fence. Later, he turned on another inside pitch and hit it just foul down the left-field line. So clearly he’s doing things this spring that he wasn’t able to do last season. Still, MSH would prefer to see him do those same things in the regular season before automatically putting him in the No. 2 hole.
Bochy said he remains open to other lineup options.
The Giants started their offseason moves by signing 2B Freddy Sanchez to a two-year deal for a reported $12 million.
It’s a deal that his mutually beneficial for the Giants and Sanchez.
For the Giants, they were faced with the decision of picking up Sanchez’s $8.1 million option for 2010. After trading away prized pitching prospect Tim Alderson, the Giants were almost obligated to pick up that option. Otherwise, they would have traded Alderson for 25 games from Sanchez would have been viewed a huge bust for the Giants.
So given that, the Giants got Sanchez for about $4 million for 2011. That’s one way of thinking about it.
For Sanchez, he gets $6 million a season for the next two season. If he had ventured into free agency, it’s uncertain what he might have garnered, given he was coming off an injury-filled season.
Sanchez says he’s ahead of schedule rehabbing for the shoulder and leg issues that cut short his 2009 season. Sanchez averaged 150 games played from 2006-08, when he batted. 344, .304 and .271.
Assuming he comes back healthy, the Giants get a professional hitter and some continuity at second base they haven’t enjoyed in a couple of seasons.