It’s great to take two of three from the Padres and make up ground. The Marlins are coming in next, and even though they don’t have a great record, they’re not a team we can take lightly. Since nobody in our division has taken off with the lead, now’s a good time for us to make a move. When we get everybody back in the lineup, that will be a boost right there.
I did my usual movie binge on the road. On our off day in Pittsburgh, I saw two movies back to back. I saw “Purge,’’ which was disappointing. And “Now You See Me,’’ which was really good. I saw “Star Trek’’ on another day. I’m saving the Jonah Hill/Seth Rogan movie for the next road trip.
Other than seeing movies and playing baseball, I basically slept. When we’re back east, I’m awake all night and sleeping during the day. I guess it’s the time change. I don’t adjust well. I can play just fine, but my sleeping is all off. Three nights in a row, I fell asleep around 7 in the morning. I watched TV all night — movies, sitcom reruns like Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier. I keep watching and watching and I never get tired of them.
Haylee met up with me in Atlanta after spending time with Ali Bumgarner in North Carolina. She texted me a video of her driving a backhoe. I don’t know if they were building something or planting something. Looked like she was just digging a hole. It was just funny listening to her and watching her try to do it. “I don’t know what this thing does! I forgot how to do it!’’ But actually it looked like she did a good job.
She also rode a horse. I don’t know if she had ever ridden one before, to be honest with you. Other than that, I have no idea what else she and Ali did. All kinds of hillbilly stuff is my guess. But I think they had a good time.
My dad came to Atlanta. He drove up with some of his co-worker buddies. So we hung out with them. We had night games, so we went out afterward. Which was great. Less time to kill later on watching TV.
Tonight I’m attending a dinner with Haylee and a few teammates at the park here for AT&T. I think Crawford, Affeldt and Lopez will be there, too, and Bochy. It’s always better to go to these events after a win. We’re much better company.
I’ll be watching from the dugout today, only the second time this season I’ve done that. And the first time because of an injury. When I jammed my right-hand index and middle fingers trying to steal second yesterday, I couldn’t tell right away if I could still play or not. The trainers said they weren’t broken, so I went back out for the start of the next inning. Good thing nothing came to me. The pain had arrived full force. When Cain struck somebody out and we were throwing the ball around the infield, I had to chuck a palm ball to Scutaro. I couldn’t use either finger.
It kind of bothers me that some people said it wasn’t a good idea for me to be sliding headfirst. I’ve been sliding headfirst my entire life. And I’ve never been hurt until now.
There’s a good reason why I and so many other players slide headfirst. When you’re going full speed, your body is leaning forward. So the fastest way to reach the bag is to build on that momentum by diving forward – rather than leaning back to slide feet first. Also, if you have to change direction to avoid a tag, you can maneuver more easily with your hands than your feet.
I looked at the tape afterward to see how I jammed my fingers this time when I had never done it before. Like most runners, I slide with my hands open and fingers up – like a “halt’’ gesture — so that my palms hit the edge of the bag. On the tape, it looked like the fielder brought his glove down onto my two fingers before I reached the base, so they jammed into the side of the bag. Bad luck.
Maybe I’d consider holding my batting gloves in my hands, essentially creating fists, so my fingers wouldn’t be exposed. But I think the natural reaction when you’re sliding is to reach out with your hands, so I’d probably end up just dropping the batting gloves.
My prognosis is “day to day.’’ We can’t afford another injury in this lineup. But between yesterday and today there’s been no improvement. I hope the healing process kicks soon, like in the next few minutes. In the meantime: ibuprofen.
Just a note on facing my sister’s boyfriend in Pittsburgh. As you might have read, my sister Amy has been dating Pittsburgh’s rookie pitcher and former Number 1 draft pick Gerrit Cole since they were classmates at UCLA. So she was at the game when he made his Major League debut against us last week. So was Jalynne, Jalynne’s mother and Gerrit’s family and friends. Amy tried to be neutral as she possibly could. She told me the Giants could win the other two games of the series, but she wanted Gerrit to win his debut. Which he did. The first time I was up, he broke my bat with a 97-mph fastball up and in. But I got a hit off him later.
After the game, Gerrit’s parents hosted dinner at a steakhouse across from the park. He was very professional, not gloating or anything. He’s not like that. When I showed up at the restaurant, I had a gift for him: my broken bat, signed.
Hope to see you at the park. Hope I’m in the lineup.
I didn’t do much on my off days on Monday or yesterday. Just relaxed. But Jalynne and I had a great time two Sundays ago at my friends’ wedding.
Getting there, however, was an adventure.
The ceremony was scheduled for 6 p.m. We had a 1 p.m. game at AT&T. I figured I’d have plenty of time to make it to Wente Vineyards in Livermore. Cain had been solid the last month or so, and when he walked three of the first four batters, I thought, “Oh, no.’’
The game went three hours and thirty-seven minutes. When we made the final out, it was already close to 4:45.
I bolted into the clubhouse. Didn’t put any ice on my arm. Went straight into the shower. Got dressed. Went to my car, where I had my tux. Iwas a groomsman. (I didn’t want to put the tux onin the clubhouse. Would have been embarrassing.)
I drove to Livermore, probably breaking a few traffic laws on the way. I had let one of the other groomsmen know I would probably be there right around six. He said they’d drag their feet (not that any wedding starts on time anyway).
I pulled up at 5:58, got somebody to park my car for me and went in with my tux on a hanger. I had about four guys helping me get dressed with all the tux stuff. I was ready by 6:10.
Then we waited on the girls. A shocker, I know.
It was an awesome wedding. I’ve known the groom, Matt, since high school. He was the best man at my wedding. And I’ve known Ali, the bride, since middle school.
Jalynne and Braylyn were there, plus my mom and two of my sisters. They had a photo booth with a bunch of props like hats and wigs. We got into the spirit of things, and Jalynne tweeted out a photo of us being ridiculous.
Now to baseball . . .
I thought I’d share a few thoughts on facing a knuckle-baller like R.A. Dickey. I’ve been asked why a good knuckle-baller can make Major Leaguers look like fools. It’s because you have no idea where the pitch is going. I’ve always heard that when you face a knuckle-baller you look for pitches that are up because they’re going to fall into the zone for a strike. The ones that look like strikes are going to drop, so you don’t want to get suckered into swinging.
Dickey, though, can throw a harder knuckleball that just stays high. You think it’s going to drop, so you swing, and you end up flailing at a pitch sailing over your bat. But he also throws a knuckleball that drops straight down. He throws one that drops and goes away. And he throws one that drops and goes in. You have no idea where any of them are going.
You might have noticed that the Jays’ starting catcher didn’t play. I’m sure it’s because he doesn’t even know what the ball’s going to do most of the time. They put a backup catcher in there who’s more experienced – and who uses a huge glove like a first-baseman’s glove to wrangle in the pitches.
Dickey kills you with his different speeds, too. No matter what the speed, the pitch looks exactly the same coming out of his hand. Against us, he threw from 66 to about 78. That’s a 12-mph difference on the same pitch. Pretty rough as a batter. Think of a guy throwing a fastball at 88 and then 100. That just doesn’t happen.
So my mindset going up against him? I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t have a hit off him yet.
I was asked, too, about going to the mound on Wednesday in the second inning with a runner on first. What was I talking to Zito about?
Zito had pointed to Scutaro, which indicated that if Zito fielded a comebacker, he expected to throw to Marco, not me, at second. It’s important that a pitcher establishes who’s going to take the throw so he knows who to look for. Otherwise, he could throw it to the wrong guy and the ball ends up in center field.
You might think it would be simpler to always have me take the throw on a comebacker to avoid confusion and to maximize our chances of turning the double play. But sometimes I’m positioned toward third base – for a right-handed pull hitter, for example — and might not be able to get to the bag quickly enough. So the pitcher will let us know he’ll be looking for the second-baseman to take the throw.
In the situation Wednesday, Rasmus was coming to bat. A lefty. But because he’s hit Zito to the opposite field a few times, I moved more to the right than I normally would for a lefty. So Ziti pointed to Marco, figuring he would be in a better position to take the throw.
I went to the mound to tell Zito that I was fine to take the throw, that I wasn’t over too far. If there had been a particularly fast runner at first, then maybe I’d want Marco to cover. But that wasn’t the case. We quickly got it straightened out and I returned to my position.
Rasmus flew out to Hunter, as it turned out. But you have to make sure everybody on the field is on the same page on every single detail. One error, as we all know, can break open an inning.
OK, now that you’re all nodding off, I’ll stop here. I love all the inside baseball stuff, but I’m sure not everyone else does. Thanks for reading it.
See you at the park when we get back.
P.S. I tried to think of a good answer to island girl’s question in the comments section about prom and graduation, but I really don’t have any interesting stories. (I did not give the valedictory speech, in case you were wondering.)
We’re flying to Arizona this afternoon for the start of a long road trip. Haylee’s flying out today, too, but she’s going with Ali Bumgarner to Ali’s home in North Carolina while we play in Arizona and Pittsburgh. When we go to Atlanta, Haylee and Ali will drive down and meet us there.
So I’ll probably spend this afternoon at the new Star Trek movie. There’s an unbelievable theater next to our hotel in Phoenix, the AMC Esplanade. They serve food and have these big recliner seats. You could go to sleep if you want to. There’s a movie called The Purge I hope I can see this weekend. It takes place in the future, and for a 12-hour period everything is legal, even murder. So people are pretty much bunkering in their houses trying not to get killed. It sounds pretty interesting because you just don’t see something like that very often. When a movie comes out and it’s just not the norm, I want to see it.
On our day off Monday, I went with Haylee to Great America in Santa Clara. I’m a big roller coaster guy. Haylee’s not nearly as enthused about it as I am, but she goes. Afterward, we had dinner at Benihana with my host mom from when I played in San Jose. I always have a good experience there. It’s fun watching them flip the shrimp and the other food. I want them to flip the egg in my mouth. I didn’t ask but wish they did it. I love edamame, so I get that as an appetizer. I don’t do sushi. My wife and host mom get that all the time. I get the beef, fried rice, no mushrooms, lots of onions.
Afterward we went home and watched The Bachelorette. It’s just the second week, so we’re still sorting out our favorites. There’s a guy called Reality Steve who predicts the winners and gets it right every time. I’m sure he has someone on the show who tells him who wins. I’m waiting for him to come out with his predictions so I don’t have to watch the rest of the show. OK, that’s not true. I always tell myself I’m not going to watch it, then I do and end up liking it then watching it again. So it’s a vicious cycle.
I like The Bachelor more than The Bachelorette because I’d rather watch a bunch of girls going after a guy than a bunch guys going after a girl. But I happen to really like this Bachelorette, Desiree. I liked her when she was on the Bachelor. She was my favorite. She’s sweet as can be. I love sweet girls. I married a sweet girl.
Guess I should get a little baseball stuff in here, too. It was great getting the pinch-hit double in St. Louis. When you come through like that, you’re happy you helped the team out. We needed the win. And it gave a win to the starter, which is an added bonus.
I’ve gotten better at pinch-hitting. The key is to stay in the game mentally while you’re on the bench for two or more hours. What I do is go through at-bats with a teammate. I’m physically in the dugout, of course, but I’m mentally at the plate. I might be looking for a first-pitch fastball. If it’s not, I lay off it. Then I continue to the next pitch: What am I looking for now? Basically have the at-bat with the batter, thinking along with him strategically. I’ll also watch at-bats on TV to see what the pitches look like straight on. It keeps you in the game. Then when I think I’ll be going in, I take some swings and stretch to get my body loose.
All you can do while you’re on the bench is to prepare as much as you can. When I was standing on second base after the double, I thought, “Thank goodness I did something to help the team.’’
Heading off to the ballpark to ride the bus to the airport. I’ll let you know how The Purge is if I get to see it. I have a good feeling about this road trip. For one thing, we don’t face R. A. Dickey.
The good thing about a baseball season is it’s 162 games.
That can be the bad thing about it, too.
When you’re on a really rough skid like we are, it can feel like you’re on the bus in “Speed.’’ You’re just hurtling. There’s no time to step back and get yourself righted.
I got home from last night’s loss around 12:45, fell asleep around 1:45, got up at 8:15 and was back at the park by 9:30. During a baseball season, you don’t usually get a breather just when you want it, or need it. You’ve got another game to play. Then another and another.
But that’s the good thing about 162 games, too — you’ve got another game to play. And another and another. You can redeem a loss almost immediately. You don’t have to dwell on the mistakes and missed opportunities. You can get the bat and glove right back on your hands and wipe the slate clean. You can start a winning streak.
Losing streaks and winning streaks are kind of equally mysterious – why they happen, why they end, why they began. You put in your work the same as always. You’re as competitive as always. You’re focused. You’re prepared. All of it. Then the game unfolds in unexpected ways. As Marty Lurie says, “That’s baseball.’’
I don’t see guys in here hanging their heads. We all have short memories. We have to. You probably wouldn’t last very long if you didn’t. I go home after every game – good or bad – and see Jalynne and Braylyn and forget about what happened on the field. They wipe the slate clean. I come to the ballpark the next day with a new attitude, ready to play. I think my teammates are the same way.
Today is getaway day. We have a three-hour flight to St. Louis, then play a night game there tomorrow. It isn’t exactly a night game for us because of the two-hour time difference. It’s a late afternoon game California time. So again, a pretty short turnaround.
Then we’re back to SF Sunday night and have an off day Monday. We play two games here against Toronto and have another off day Thursday. I have absolutely no plans for the off days. I’m just going to relax.
I had a great time our last off day, which was last Thursday. Jalynne, her sister Jamie and I went to Sonoma to do some wine tasting. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life and I had never been to either Sonoma or Napa.
I know. Pretty amazing.
Here’s how it came about. Jalynne watches “The Bachelor.’’ I say “she’’ but I actually got sucked into it, too. We got in touch with Ben, who was the Bachelor two seasons ago. He and a few friends and family have a winery called Envolve in Sonoma. Ben’s a big Giants fan, so he invited us up. We spent the afternoon at his tasting room on the square in Sonoma. I’m not a big wine guy, so I stuck mostly with the whites. Maybe I’ll grow to like the reds but I’m not much of a drinker in general, so it might not happen. We had a great time, though, and afterward had lunch at The Red Grape.
It’s about an hour or so til game time. I’m going to grab some food. Then we’ve got Zeets on the mound. I like our chances.
I rode my new scooter to the park for the first time today. I think now four of us have them – Timmy, Hunter, Sergio and me. Joe, our team cook, customizes them with paint and decals. He brought mine to the park yesterday, and it looks awesome. It’s orange and black with the number 9. (Haylee got a scooter, too. Hers is baby blue and I think it also has my number on it.)
I didn’t ride it home last night because it was really cold, and two of my best buddies from Texas are visiting San Francisco for the first time. So I put the scooter in my truck and drove with them back to the apartment.
So the inaugural ride was this afternoon. The scooter has an electric motor with a Turbo button (which means about 25 mph at top speed). So I was hauling butt down the Embarcadero to the park. Well, hauling butt as much as you can when you’re riding on the sidewalk. I don’t like riding in the street if I don’t have to. To be honest, I don’t know if scooters are even allowed on the sidewalk. I’m just going to keep going until somebody stops me. The only thing I get nervous about on the sidewalk is going over bumps. The scooter has shocks, but I slow down when there’s a bump. I’m afraid I’m going to flip me over the handlebars.
So yesterday was a big day for me overall — got my new scooter and went 4-for-5 with a homer in a decisive win. We needed a lift after that brutal road trip. Before the game, though, everything in the clubhouse was pretty normal. This team doesn’t panic. We put losses behind us. We knew if we just refocused, we could easily get back on track. And that’s what happened.
I felt locked in from the moment I got to the field. It was a weird feeling. Maybe I was pumped up about my scooter. I was completely comfortable in the batter’s box. I don’t know why it happens, but sometimes you just feel like that. Once you feel good in the box, then it’s just about swinging at strikes. I was able to get pitches I wanted and put them in play.
On my homer, I felt like I crushed it. But you can never be sure how far the ball is going to go in this park – at least when you hit it to right-center. If I had hit it to straight right field, I’d know it was gone. But there’s a blanket out there. The wind just blows in and can stop a ball in its tracks. The wind patterns are so weird. The flags in center field can be blowing straight out toward the bay. But when I’m standing at first base, I’ll feel the wind blowing at my back the whole game. So you never know.
I felt really good about my fourth at-bat. I already had three hits, including the home run. So psychologically you might relax a little. You know you’ve already had a good day. But I wanted to make sure I didn’t give in. I stayed as locked in as I had been the previous three at-bats. And I was locked in on the fifth at-bat, too. I hit it solid, but he made a good pitch and the ball died at the warning track.
I was particularly happy to have a good night with my buddies Matt and Justin in the stands. We played ball together in high school. They’re supposed to leave on Saturday, but I told them if I keep hitting, they’re staying the rest of the year.
Vogey stopped by the clubhouse a little while ago and said the surgery on his finger this morning went well, so that was good news. We all felt awful for him last night. He was pitching so great and then breaks his finger. He’ll be back, of course. That guy is so tough and competitive. He works so hard.
OK, enough for now. Thanks for reading. And wave if you see a tall guy on a black-and-orange scooter hauling butt (cautiously) down the Embarcadero.
I just got off the phone with Ryan Theriot. The guy really makes me laugh. He’s home in Baton Rouge and keeps in touch pretty regularly. He had looked at the box score and saw I was still hitting well. He didn’t notice the errors.
“Three in the last three games,’’ I told him. “Kind of weird. I had three errors total before that.’’
They were all kind of dumb errors. On a steal attempt, the ball tipped off my glove because I tried to be too quick on the tag. The runner was probably safe anyway, so it was just dumb.
On a cutoff throw, I tried to see where the runner was at first. I took my eye off the ball at the last second, it tipped off my glove and the guy went to second. Another error.
Then yesterday on a double play, I didn’t think Zito was looking at me as he ran to cover first. I was trying to hold onto the ball, but it was already too late and I threw it 20 feet from first base. Another error.
Theriot and I were talking about what’s worse –the booted grounders or the weird, easily preventable errors. I think weird ones are worse because you just want to kick yourself. A ground ball might take a bad hop and there’s not much you can do about it.
Anyway, it was great to talk to Theriot and be able to see at least a little humor in the stupid stuff you still find yourself doing sometimes – even after you’ve played baseball for so long.
Having said that, I’m going out now to take extra ground balls before batting practice.
It was great to get home last night. The plane was maybe a little quieter than usual, but we’re not a team that pouts or panics. It’s May. We have three-quarters of the season left. Once in a while you just don’t play good baseball. Midway through last season, we had that terrible road trip, losing five of six games to Washington and Pittsburgh, I think. Then we came out the second half and did what we did.
And remember we took three of four from Atlanta. That was just a little over a week ago. It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes.
When we landed at SFO, I rode the team bus to the park, picked up my car then crossed the bridge to pick up Jalynne and Braylyn at the Oakland Airport. They came in from LA where they were visiting Jalynne’s parents. The timing was perfect. Braylyn was fussing a little when they got off the plane. When she saw me, she broke into a big smile.
Nothing better than that. Puts everything in perspective.
I was happy to get two hits yesterday, given the skid I’ve been on. But I’d rather have an 0-fer and win than get a bunch of hits and lose.
I started the year so well at the plate, then the hits just stopped coming. You try everything to figure out what you’re doing wrong. I’ve put videos ofmy swing from the past week side-by-side with my swing from the first few weeks. My mechanics are exactly the same.
I was particularly stumped by a fly ball I hit recently to left field for an out. An identical swing on an almost identical pitch resulted in an opposite-field home run last month. What was the difference? I saw it on a slow-motion replay. On the home run, the ball hit the bat square. On the fly ball, it hit a few millimeters off center. A fraction of a fraction of an inch. That’s how thin the line is between success and failure at the plate.
The toughest part of going through a slump is maintaining your confidence and keeping a consistent mental approach. Hitting is all about that. The thing is, almost any kind of swing can be successful. Look at Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro. They have completely different swings,but they’re both good hitters. And they’re both confident in the swings they have, so it works for them.
I think maybe there are certain times when I’m trying to do too much instead of just seeing the ball and hitting it like I was earlier. Maybe I’m overthinking what the pitcher might be throwing.Or I’m trying to pull the ball in certain situations instead of just staying up the middle.
During the game, your teammates aren’t going to offer too many suggestions. They’re busy with their own stuff. But the other day in batting practice, Buster said I was pulling my front shoulder off the ball a little bit. So I tried to incorporate that into my batting practice, keeping the shoulder closed and putting the ball up the middle or the opposite field.
I never lose my confidence on the field. Even when I was getting criticized early last season for errors, I didn’t lose my confidence because I have no doubts about defense. If you can play defense in the minors, you can play at the Major League level. A ground ball is pretty much a ground ball.But hitting in the Major Leagues is different from the minors because the pitching is better. It’s an adjustment. It takes time to develop the same sense of invincibility at the plate that you feel in the field.
A blog reader asked about “the weird pad’’ on my left hand when I’m batting. I think he’s talking about the thumb guard (see the photo). A lot of guys wear them. It keeps the handle of the bat from sinking into the webbing between your index finger and thumb. I think it makes for a quicker bat. And you don’t feel the sting as much when you get jammed. I’ve been using it my whole pro career.
Then when I get on base, I take off the thumb guard and gloves and put on a different thumb guard. I sprained my thumb at the beginning of last year so I wore it all season to protect it when I slide headfirst. This year I jammed the thumb again putting down a tag at second on Carlos Gomez, so I’ve put the thumb guard back on.
A follow-up from the previous blog post. We ended up not going to Sea World in San Diego. One of Jalynne’s nieces was sick. So we walked along the coast to Seaport Village with the dog and the stroller. It was great – and we didn’t have to pay $150 or whatever to watch a sea otter show that Braylyn won’t even remember.
It was also great to go back to our new home in Arizona when we played the Diamondbacks. The best part was sleeping in my own bed. My bed in Arizona is a lot more comfortable than the one here. The bed here is the same cheap one we bought when I was called up from the minor leagues. It might be time for a new one.
A few thoughts on the Dodger series and our tendency to play close games. I think it was Hunter who said we’re addicted to one-run games. We do our best to make sure it’s a one-run game whether up by a lot of runs or down by a lot of runs. That Saturday game, we were up 5-0 and thinking maybe we’d make it 10-0. Then all of a sudden we’re losing and have to come back and win 10-9.
Flan jokes that maybe it has something to do with the yin/yang, fiery/laid-back pairings in our batting lineup. You start with Pagan and Scutaro, then Pablo and Buster, then Hunter and either me or Belt, then Blanco and either me or Belt. It’s an interesting observation, isn’t it?
OK, I’ll be late to the park if I go on any more. Let’s hope for a better game today than the first two against Philly.
Just to clarify my blog mate’s last post about me missing dinner with the guys in Chicago. (He seemed skeptical about my claim that I didn’t know about it.) I knew about it, but I didn’t know when and where. I was in my room waiting for someone to text me. When no one did, I went to the movies.
I saw “The Place Beyond the Pines’’ with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, which is a great movie if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a little dark, but I like dark movies. You might not peg me as an independent-film kind of guy, but I’m a fan. Since I can’t get Haylee to see them, I go by myself on the road.
I know she’d like a lot of the movies if she’d just go with me. So it was funny the other night when she dragged me to a restaurant she wanted to try, Epic on the Embarcadero. She knows how I am about new restaurants. I reluctantly agreed to go. And I loved it. Haylee was thrilled.
“See?’’ she said. “You have to try new things. You might find you like them.’’
“That’s how I feel about you going to the movies with me!’’
She laughed and said she’d go to more movies.
Our season itself has been like a Hollywood script. It’s crazy how our games are going. Every one of them seems to be a heart-stopper. Not to the players, though, to be honest. When we were in the dugout after the Dodgers rallied back Friday and Saturday – and again yesterday – there was never a doubt in our minds we would win.
If we give up a bunch of runs, you don’t hear guys in the dugout saying, “OK, we’ve got to get our butts in gear!’’ We just go about our business. We stick to the game plan. We know what we have to do.
We talk about “synergy’’ a lot. We focus our energy on the guy in the spotlight at that moment. We genuinely believe that guy is going to come through – and it usually happens! It’s crazy. I don’t even know if I believe in all that stuff, but it’s amazing how often it works. It’s just that positive attitude that gets us through a lot of games. You don’t know who it’s going to be. But someone usually comes through in the clutch.
When Quiroz was up Saturday, I don’t think anyone was necessarily thinking he was going to get a walk-off home run. We were all focusing our energy on him getting on base and getting the train in motion. Then you hope the next person gets on, and the next. Then all you need is a blooper to win the game. We really try to keep it as simple as that.
When Q hit the home run – only the third homer in his Major League career — it was awesome. Everybody was so happy for him. He’s a real positive guy. Real easy-going. He’s always rooting for everybody else, so it’s easy to root for him. For us to have walk-off home runs two nights in a row was pretty awesome.
I keep thinking back to the Milwaukee game on April 16. We were down 9-3 and battled back to score five runs. We didn’t give up. We don’t care what the score is. We didn’t win, but I remember how relentless we were. That’s what this team is about. We keep on going out there and battling.
The sweep of the Dodgers this weekend had to be one of the most entertaining series in baseball this season. I wish I could have contributed more at the plate, the way I did in Arizona last week. But that’s the way it goes. Sometimes it’s your moment. Sometimes it’s somebody else’s moment.
As long as we keep winning. That’s all that matters.
I loved giving Pablo a hard time when I had more home runs than he did.
“Yeah,’’ he’d say, “talk to me in September.’’
I had to get my shots in while I could.
It’s great hitting home runs, believe me. I had four all last season and have three already this year. But to tell you the truth I take just as much pride in laying down a crucial sacrifice bunt, like the one last night in the ninth inning.
Sacrifice bunts might not get the scoreboard flashing and the water spouting, but they are noticed by your teammates. They know you did your job and that it was a key to winning the game. My job last night was to move Torres into scoring position, just as in the fourth game of the World Series it was to move Theriot into scoring position. In each situation, the next batter got a hit that scored the runner. If the runner is still at first, he doesn’t score.
OK, so laying down the sac bunt isn’t as much fun as getting the winning hit. You’re not in the newspaper the next day or on the highlights that night. But you know what you did. Last night, after everyone punched Belt in the ribs a few times, my teammates congratulated me on the bunt. I point this out to make the point that winning is a team effort. When you stop playing as a team, you stop winning.
I was really happy for Belt getting the big hit after scuffling the way he has. He was definitely due for a good rip.
People have been asking me why I’m hitting better this year. I made an adjustment in the spring. Former Fresno manager Steve Decker, who’s now the organizational hitting coordinator, was in the batting cage with me down in Arizona. I was warming up as I usually do by hitting off the tee, and Decker was placing the balls on the tee. I think I’ve written about my routine before, about how I position the tee in nine different locations so I practice my swing as if the pitch were in different locations – high, middle, low, inside, over the plate and outside.
Later during batting practice, Decker told me to swing as if I were hitting off the tee at its highest point. That meant I stood taller. My hands were higher. My front shoulder, which usually turned in toward the plate, now stayed more stationary. It was a simpler and shorter approach. It allowed me to have a flatter swing, so I got more backspin, which meant the ball had more of an upward trajectory.
Soon after that, Hunter and I were working on our hitting in Scottsdale while most of the team were playing on the road.
“You’re getting your hands up really well,’’ Hunter said.
We talked about mechanics and why this tweak made a difference.
And it has. I would not have hit an opposite field home run, as I did in Milwaukee, with my old stance.
In Chicago, a group of us went out to dinner – Affeldt, Buster, Hunter, Nick Noonan, Bumgarner, Javy, a couple more, I can’t remember everybody. (Belt didn’t go. He went to the movies by himself. He claims he didn’t know about it.) One of the highlights of any meal is watching Bum eat. It’s entertaining to marvel at the amount and the speed.
When it was time to pay, we considered the old “throw your credit card in’’ game. I quickly pulled an old hotel key-card and tossed it on the table. But in the end, Buster and Hunter split the bill. The one advantage to making less money is you don’t pick up too many checks. But I got Starbuck’s for Buster one day. I think we’re even.
Jalynne, Braylyn and I are flying down to San Diego right after the game tomorrow. We’re going to spend the off day at Sea World with Jalynne’s sister and her two little daughters. I don’t know how much Braylyn will appreciate the killer whales and sea otters, but I know she’ll enjoy herself. She lights up at the smallest things these days. I hated to leave her today to go to the ballpark because she was laughing at everything and having such a great time. Glad she and Jalynne will be on this road trip!