SAN FRANCISCO – Gregor Blanco was minding his own business in the dugout, admiring Madison Bumgarner as he dispatched the Atlanta Braves like he was shucking oysters.
“I was sitting back saying there’s no way I’ll play today, the way he’s pitching,” Blanco said. “A double, a triple and four RBIs … that wasn’t in the plans.”
That’s exactly what it says in the box score, though. Blanco literally jumped cold off the bench and into the batter’s box when the Braves brought in right-hander Cory Gearrin in the fifth inning. He hit a three-run double that broke open the game, then placed a triple in the left field corner that brought in one more run in the eighth as the Giants enjoyed a 10-1 victory.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants 10, Braves 1]
“I saw the right-hander start warming up and I put on my shin guard,” Blanco said. “All of the sudden, (Bruce) Bochy was like, `If they bring in the right-hander, you’re in.’ I was like, `OK, let’s do this.’
“No swing. No cage. No stretching. Nothing. It was from the bench to that swing.”
On the way up the stairs, Blanco joked with Andres Torres that he was about to scorch a line drive. After he did, Torres got wide-eyed and later told Blanco that he’s got to keep the same routine when he returns to the lineup Sunday.
“Tomorrow, do the same thing you did today,” Torres said. “So, what did you do?”
“Nothing,” Blanco replied.
“OK, you know what to do tomorrow,” Torres said.
Blanco’s four RBI off the bench was the most by a Giant in almost a decade. Rich Aurilia drove in four in a 2003 interleague game against the White Sox in Chicago. It was also just the second time a Giant came off the bench to drive in four in 14 seasons at AT&T Park. Russ Davis did it in 2000.
The record for RBI off the bench in the Giants’ West Coast era? That would be Candy Maldonado, who hit a pinch grand slam and later added a two-run single for a six-RBI day against these same Braves on Sept. 27, 1987.
Blanco simply felt good that he was able to bring ‘em in to break open a close game.
“Hitting sixth or seventh, I better start hitting with guys on base and bring them to the plate,” Blanco said. “That’s what they want from me and it’s been fun.”
A lot of players received shipments of pink bats, cleats and other equipment to use for Mother’s Day on Sunday, both to honor their moms and to raise awareness for breast cancer research.
As you might remember, Mother’s Day is very personal for Blanco, who lost his mother a couple years ago. Long after the day had passed last year, he still wore one of his pink wristbands to honor her.
Blanco uses bats from several different companies, including Max Bats, which sent him one with their logo in pink script. But Blanco was informed by Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy that he wouldn’t be allowed to use it. As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported, Major League Baseball made an exclusive deal with Louisville Slugger after the company made a donation; players can use pink bats from any approved company, but the only pink bats that can bear a company’s trademark are Louisville Sluggers.
Luckily for Blanco, he also contracts with Louisville and will use one of their bats in Sunday’s game.
Seems to me, though, that it’s not really a charitable contribution if it comes with strings attached. Sure, people donate to charities all the time for tax purposes. But if raising awareness is the goal, then any approved company should be able to stick their trademark on a pink bat – no matter how big a check Louisville Slugger wrote out.
As mentioned on the pregame show and on Twitter, Bochy has Melky Cabrera’s World Series ring and will give it to him in Toronto after the team arrives.
(They’re traveling after Sunday’s game so they’ll have all of Monday to get acclimated to the time change before the series starts Tuesday.)
People have mixed feelings, strong feelings or both over whether Cabrera should receive a ring after he was suspended 50 games for flunking a test for exogenous testosterone, and basically walking out on his former teammates. But the code is pretty clear on this: Anyone who is on the roster at any point during the season gets a ring, and Cabrera did more than just show up. He was leading the majors in hits and runs scored when he got suspended Aug. 15.
Blanco said he’s looking forward to seeing Cabrera and the ring is richly deserved.
“I know he’s expecting to see some of the guys,” Blanco said. “He did a lot for the team last year even though he disappointed a lot of people, including his teammates. But you make mistakes in life. He took that as a lesson and he’s looking forward now.”
Cabrera is hitting .261 and just connected for his first homer of the season on Sunday.
Remember, this is the same guy who hit .429 with a staggering 51 hits in May a year ago.
Pablo Sandoval had X-rays on his right forearm that showed no fracture after he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. He came out as part of a double switch in the eighth.
Bochy said he was concerned about whether Sandoval would need a day off Sunday. But knowing how much the Panda loves breaking out the special gear on Mother’s Day, I’m guessing he’ll be in there.
I’ll never forget a couple years ago, when Sandoval spent the better part of a month breaking in a pink third baseman’s glove. Then when Mother’s Day finally arrived at Citi Field in New York, he looked at the lineup – and saw that he was starting at first base for the first time all year.
Hunter Pence is OK after what looked like an uncomfortable shin-to-shin collision at second base.
You know the team is winning when there’s plenty of hazing going on in the postgame clubhouse. This time Torres was the target after he changed into a white shirt that was so tight, it looked like he was wearing body paint.
“You need white balance?” Matt Cain said to CSN cameraman Rob Lembo. “Get a shot of that.”