SAN FRANCISCO – Pablo Sandoval’s weight will be scrutinized whenever he struggles at the plate or in the field.
But it wasn’t his weight that caused him to start so miserably when he came off the disabled list late last month. His strained foot, which forced him to the disabled list, still hadn’t healed and it was preventing him from creating the proper base to stay back on pitches.
“It’s a lot better now,” Sandoval told me Friday, after he singled in four at-bats of a 2-0 victory over Arizona.
[RECAP: Giants 2, Diamondbacks 0]
Sandoval followed up by saying the foot wasn’t an excuse, nor did he want to use it as one. He just didn’t get his timing back as quickly as he hoped when he started 3-for-33 off the DL. Clearly, the foot was still a factor.
It began feeling better in San Diego, and Sandoval noticeably moved much better when he fielded two grounders down the line in Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter. A week earlier, and Sandoval might not have made either of those plays.
It’s been awhile, too, since we’ve seen the Panda do his hard stutter-step into a base, as he did Friday night.
The Giants need Sandoval to be healthy and effective. He might be the most important offensive key to the lineup in the second half. From the looks of things, he’s off to a good start.
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Chad Gaudin did the math.
“I came into the game 0-for-37, and I was 0-for-3 … that means I’m 0-for-40,” he said. “I’m going to set a record.”
Well, not quite. Just two years ago, Craig Counsell had an 0-for-45 -– and he’s not a pitcher. The longest streak by any player is Bob Buhl, a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Braves who went 0-for-70 in 1962. His streak was 88 at-bats if you count empty trips at the end of ’61 and the beginning of ’62.
Gaudin’s eyes just about bugged out of his head when I told him what Buhl’s numbers were.
“Wow,” he said. “Hopefully he could pitch.”
Well enough, it would seem. Buhl won 166 games over 15 seasons before retiring in 1967 -– five years before the advent of the designated hitter in the AL.
(By the way, former Giant Ron Herbel began his career 1-for-106, and retired with a .029 average. So you couldn’t call Gaudin the worst hitting pitcher in franchise history, either.)
Gaudin's current streak is the longest in the major leagues, though. So he's got that.
Gaudin has a Tim Flannery baseball card poking above his locker nameplate –- one that has the Flan Man in that ever so masculine bunting pose. A card above the locker usually means that Flannery is summoning the player for extra work.
Gaudin said he always welcomes extra work on his bunting form. Except …
“The problem is I’m not coming up in any bunting situations,” Gaudin said. “I always have to hit.”
Sergio Romo’s scoreless streak has now reached 29 innings against the Diamondbacks. The last time he gave up a run to them, he didn’t own either of his two World Series rings.
The Giants had lost eight consecutive games started by Ian Kennedy, a streak that started in 2011 and carried through to Opening Day this year. But now they’ve won two consecutive in which he’s taken the mound.
This was the first loss the Giants hung on Kennedy, though, since Sept. 29, 2010 –- when Pat Burrell hit a two-run home run in a 3-1 victory.
Looks like Kensuke Tanaka’s work over the All-Star break was fruitful. He remained in San Francisco and took fly balls to become better accustomed to the demands of playing left field. He made it look easy again with that sliding catch in the fourth inning. He actually overran Paul Goldschmidt’s drive.
Nice gesture by the Giants to recognize Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter with a video salute. That was a guaranteed standing ovation, even if Timmy was a bit too shy to go all the way to the top step to soak it in.
Jeff Francoeur’s first home at-bat as a Giant was a 10-pitch battle that resulted in a double. And it was more impressive when you consider he was allowed to fly back from Atlanta on Friday morning after he and his wife welcomed their first child.
Their daughter, Ella Cate, was born on Monday. She’s seven pounds, one ounce, “and she looks like her mom, thank God,” he said.
Right-hander Sandy Rosario and his wife, Gesselle, also welcomed a baby girl over the break. They named her Saabet.
Neat moment in the Arizona Rookie League, where Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones, the Giants’ top two draft picks, hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. It was the first pro home run for both kids, who walked in their high school graduations a few weeks ago.
Happy 90th birthday, Lon Simmons. “Tell it goodbye!” still sounds so good.