Results tagged ‘ Pablo Sandoval ’
It’s not exactly the Torture of 2010, but this 2012 version can take you on a pretty good roller coaster ride.
If you watched today’s game, you know what I mean. We scored four in the first then kind of went on cruise control and blew the lead. But lately we have this knack of getting a hit or a walk or a hit-by-pitch in the eighth or ninth inning – and suddenly it’s like a switch has been flipped.
Today we were down 8-5 with two outs in the eighth, and Hector Sanchez hit a double. And everything changed.
I followed up with a double, scoring Hector and closing the gap to 8-6. Belt came in to pinch hit. He hit a single to drive me in: 8-7.
In the ninth, Scutaro doubled. Then Buster doubled him in: 8-8.
People say hitting is contagious. I know it makes no sense at all, but I believe it because that’s our team. (Of course, it can be contagious in the other direction, too. Nobody hits, so nobody hits.)
In the tenth I led off with an infield chopper that I barely beat out. And with two outs, I scored the winning run on Scutaro’s walk-off hit down the left field line. I loved watching Scutaro racing around the field, trying to get away from Pablo, me and the rest of the mob chasing him. I don’t blame him for running – when I hit that walk-off against the Padres, I got crushed. Scutaro was yelling at Pablo in Spanish as Pablo grabbed him, and we all piled on. I guess we should be thinking about the possibility of injury, but everyone’s so happy after a walk-off we never even think about it.
What’s different about this team right now is that key hits and runs are coming from every spot in the order. I take my job in the No. 8 hole as seriously as Buster takes his job hitting clean-up.
Hitting eighth is hard. You can ask anybody. Hitting eighth in the National League is one of the toughest spots to hit. If there’s nobody out and nobody on, a pitcher is going to pitch you the same as everybody else. But if there are guys in scoring position, you have to expand the strike zone a little bit because the pitcher’s on deck. It’s up to you to drive those runners in. So you want to put the ball in play, even if you don’t get the perfect pitch. But you don’t want to expand the strike zone too much and find yourself flailing at bad pitches. It’s a fine line.
On another topic, you might have noticed I am no longer the Wolverine. I know the TV cameras caught me in the dugout in Houston running my fingers up through my beard and trying to poof it out and see how big it was. Some of the guys were telling me I should keep growing it. But when I went 0-for Houston, I thought it was time for a trim. So the clipper came out. And tonight I got three hits, so I think I’ll keep it trimmed, even though I hate to shave.
It’s been fun to watch the replays of my catch of Pablo’s flip in foul territory in our first game in Houston. It’s been Number 1 on Best Plays of the Week on ESPN, even beating out Felix Hernandez’s perfect game. Fans said a perfect game had been done before, but they’d never seen a play like that. I’ve watched it a bunch of times myself, and I enjoy it as much as any fan. I still can’t tell you how it happened. I saw Pablo falling backward, so I thought the ball might come out of his glove. And then he came forward – and the ball flipped into the air. It was just one of those things that you just react to it.
Here’s another thing from that Houston series I had never seen before: An outfielder nearly trampling an infielder to catch a cut-off throw. Pagan threw from deep center field, and I had just caught the ball when Blanco – who was trying to catch the cut-off throw — crashed into me and we both went tumbling.
The closest thing I’ve seen to that is Manny Ramirez back in the day when he was in Boston. Johnny Damon throws the ball in from center, and Manny Ramirez for some reason dives and cuts the ball off – even though it was heading right to the shortstop. Manny then turns around and throws it to the shortstop. For no reason. Manny being Manny.
I asked Gregor in the dugout what he was thinking: Why would you try to catch a cut-off throw? He said the throw was so off-line that he didn’t think I’d be able to reach it. I told him, “With me, you’ll never have to cut a ball off.’’ I know our outfielders’ arms – who has strong and not-so-strong arms — and know where to situate myself for the cutoff.
Baseball fans often say they come to the park every day because they’re going to see something they’ve never seen before. That is absolutely true for players, too. It’s what makes baseball so fun. You never know what a teammate – or you — might do. It could be something that will never be seen ever again. Sometimes, of course, that’s a good thing.
Last week was a great week all around – a sweep to start the second half of the season and before that a trip back home for the All-Star break.
Haylee and I spent the first day back in Texas just hanging out with our parents. Then on Tuesday there was a little bitty get-together at the Barbecue House, which I told you is one of my favorite restaurants in Nacogdoches. It was just my grandma, my mom’s sisters and my coach from Little League. Sure enough, Maw-Maw had a stack of cards for me to sign as soon as I walked in.
Then I watched the All-Star game with some buddies, cheering for our guys like any other fan. They definitely represented the Giants very well. Matt Cain faced a brutal line-up of the best hitters in the American League, and he just shut them down. And Melky getting the MVP – I was so happy for him because he works sooo hard. He’s definitely somebody I look up to. And Pablo getting the triple and Posey scoring a run. It was awesome all around.
Of course when you’re around your friends and family, they want to know what guys are like personally off the field. It’s an easy answer for me because every guy on the team is a good guy.
So after writing about how I always wear my baseball pants old-school, I showed up for a game with long pants that covered my socks. “Kristen’’ and “Claire’’ called me on it in the comments section. Here’s the story. I have two pairs of old-school pants that come down to just below my knees. One of them has had a broken zipper for a while. So I had been wearing the same pair of pants every game. Then the zipper broke on that one. So I had to go grab a pair of Bumgarner’s pants and throw those on. Murph, the clubhouse manager, got the zippers fixed and had my pants back in time for the next game.
Obviously, I should get things fixed more promptly. Like my shaver. I told you last time that I hadn’t shaved in a week because my shaver broke. I was going to get a new one during our last road trip back east. I didn’t. So I went another week. I had a back-up razor but the batteries were dead. Finally I got batteries and shaved the night before the All-Star break. Back home in Texas, I was able to go out and find the shaver I’ve always had, the Peanut.
Another question from the comments: My pregame routine. After we take BP, we’re in the clubhouse for about an hour and a half. So right before the game, I’ll go in the batting cage behind the dugout and hit a few balls to get loose. Then on the field I’ll stretch my legs and upper body. Then I throw with Crawford. Most of us throw with the same guys every game. (If one or the other of us isn’t in the lineup, the other one will find somebody else to throw with.) Then I’ll do a couple sprints and I’m ready for the game.
Thanks, Dave Edlund, for telling me you fished my first home run of 2012 out of McCovey Cove. (And to your friend Greg for grabbing the next one.) The one I’d really like back is the first Splash Hit of my career (from last season). That would be pretty cool. If the person who has that ball wants to negotiate an exchange, I’m open.
Thanks, as always, for reading and for leaving your comments and questions. Wish us luck in Atlanta and Philly