SAN DIEGO -- The Giants have all their regulars in Saturday’s lineup at Petco Park, and Manager Bruce Bochy did in fact drop Pablo Sandoval out of the No. 3 spot.
It’s not like Sandoval is hitting behind the pitcher. He’s fifth -- still a major RBI spot for a team that needs his production to put runs consistently on the board.
Buster Posey moves up from cleanup to third, and we could see that often against lefty pitchers. The Giants get them in the final two games of this series, with Eric Stults on Saturday and Robbie Erlin on Sunday.
“For this thing to work, we’ve got to get all these guys going and in a groove,” Bochy said. “(Sandoval), I think, is pressing a bit.”
Bochy bases this not just on Sandoval’s .179 average or the fact he’s come to the plate with a team-high 46 runners on base and has driven in just four of them. He sees Sandoval expanding the zone beyond what is reasonable -- even for a hitter with astounding plate coverage.
“When you’re expanding the zone, you’ll be off balance,” Bochy said. “You can’t take a good swing at a bad pitch. He’s got to reel it in a little bit. There’s such a fine line between being yourself -- and for Pablo that’s being aggressive -- and overdoing it.”
It isn’t just Sandoval who is struggling with runners in scoring position. Remember when the Giants began 17-for-35 in those spots? Well, they’re 1-for-17 over the past two games and hitting .125 (7-for-56) over the last seven.
It’s Tim Hudson’s day to pitch and he already owns the Giants’ all-time record for issuing zero walks through his first 23 innings this season. In the last 80 seasons, Hudson is just the fifth pitcher to go walkless through three starts to start a season with at least seven innings pitched in each of them. (Cliff Lee was the last in 2010; Mike Mussina and Rick Reed did it in 2001.) The last pitcher to begin a season with four walkless starts of at least seven innings was Tiny Bonham in 1944.
Hudson should know by now that every baserunner counts for the Giants these days. They’ve played eight consecutive one-run games for the first time in franchise history since 1910. No major league club has played eight consecutive one-run games since the 2005 Twins.
Maybe the Giants gained some inspiration by watching the Warriors game in the clubhouse. A good portion of the team was glued to the TV, including Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum and Brandon Crawford.