SAN FRANCISCO -- According to FanGraphs.com, Brandon Crawford had seen a changeup on 28 percent of pitches coming into Saturday night's game.
"That seems low," he deadpanned when asked about the stat.
Yes, the shortstop certainly noticed when opposing pitchers mixed it up on him following that hot start at Chase Field. He joked that he maybe saw five fastballs total in four games at Petco Park, and there's some serious truth in that. Entering Saturday's game, Crawford was seeing fastballs 27.1 percent of the time compared to 32.1 percent last year. The changeup percentage was up to 28 percent when it had never been above 13.7 percent in his four previous seasons.
"I've been getting a lot more off-speed stuff and I've been making the adjustments to be able to hit those pitches," he said. "They've been keeping me off balance and it's tough to hit like that. I needed to stay with my approach."
Against Rubby De La Rosa, that meant he needed to stay toward the center of the field. He stuck to that approach and crushed a De La Rosa changeup into deep right-center field in the fourth inning, helping salt this one away. Crawford is hitting .163 but has three homers, and manager Bruce Bochy was hopeful that some of his younger hitters could take lessons from Saturday's successes. Crawford got to a changeup and Brandon Belt went the other way for a base hit a night after twice scorching balls into the shift.
"These are things that can get them rolling," Bochy said.
It's popular right now to complain about "not replacing Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse," but the Giants actually have gotten a lot out of Nori Aoki in left field and the McGehee-Duffy-Arias trio has three homers at third base. The Giants never planned on Aoki and McGehee making up for the lost bats; it was supposed to be Crawford's growth, and Belt's growth, and Joe Panik and so on. Panik had three hits Saturday to raise his average to .286. If those three infielders start hitting, this game is going to become a hell of a lot easier for the 22 other Giants.
--- Random stat: The Giants are 2-1 after ring ceremonies. They beat the Cardinals in 2011 but lost to them in 2013.
--- Heston, politely, in response to an odd question about Charlton Heston: "I don't know that we're related at all." I enjoyed that. And with that, I'm off for a day so I can get Bochy's patented "day off in front of an off day." So long, dream of working 162. See you all Tuesday night for Giants-Dodgers.
(Oh, and get some rest. On Wednesday we get Madison Bumgarner vs. Clayton Kershaw.)