SAN FRANCISCO — After breaking out with three hits last Saturday, Casey McGehee struck a cautious tone, saying he needed to have that kind of production more than just once. After hitting a grand slam on Friday, McGehee again tried to keep perspective.
“The trick is now doing it again tomorrow,” he said.
That’s not to say he didn’t fully enjoy this night. McGehee sat for three days and responded with a grand slam, a single — and two more double plays. It was a mixed bag in the scorebook, but McGehee took confidence away from every at-bat, saying he had a good approach and hit the ball hard even on the double-plays.
“I think you have to try not to do too much,” he said. “I felt like today I really committed to my approach, my plan, and stopped worrying about what can happen. I did a much better job of committing to the plan of what works for me.”
In a 6-0 win over the Marlins, that meant McGehee looked for a fastball and stayed to the center of the field when Jarred Cosart fell behind 3-1 with the bases loaded. He blasted the pitch, picking up his third career grand slam and giving Tim Lincecum more than enough support.
It was a cherry on top of what already was a big night for McGehee. Earlier, with his wife and kids watching from a few feet away, McGehee was presented with the Comeback Player of the Year Award. He said it was a reminder of everything he has been through, including a stint in Japan.
It was a reminder that he's bounced back before.
“I feel like I’ve proven I can hit in this league and I’ve proven I can be productive in this league,” he said. “I don’t know how else to say it, but, kind of screw it, put your best at-bat on there and whatever happens, happens. Sometimes you get to the point where you’re just saying, ‘Screw it.’ I’ve got to go out there and and play the game and it’s not always going to go your way. It has a way of humbling you.”
For McGehee, that came in the form of three games out of the starting lineup. One of those days was spent watching Michael Morse pick up his championship ring, and McGehee took note when Morse then went out and broke out of his own mini-slump with two hits. He thought about a similar breakthrough on his award night.
“You remember the feeling you have and try to expect that instead of hoping for it,” he said.
The Giants really want McGehee to grab that third-base job and hold on tight, and the two double-plays won’t change that. Bruce Bochy liked McGehee’s approach the whole night, and this will bolster his belief that 2014 Casey McGehee is hiding in there somewhere.
For McGehee, it was nice just to get back on the right track. Before giving way to Matt Duffy, McGehee was starting to hear boos at home. The park shook with cheers tonight when his ball cleared the wall in left-center.
“It was a little nicer than the alternative,” he said, smiling.
--- Hunter Pence played five innings for the Sacramento River Cats tonight and had a sacrifice fly, groundout and strikeout. We’ll find out tomorrow if he felt any lingering pain. When Pence does return, the middle of this order could all of a sudden be pretty formidable. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt reached base nine times tonight in 10 plate appearances.
Belt had four hits, including a double that was smoked the other way and gave him a double in six straight games. With a double tomorrow, he’ll tie Jeff Kent’s franchise record. After that super slow start, Belt has a .308/.393/.436 slash line. He's still looking for that first dinger, though.
“I don’t know who could come closer to hitting a homer than what he’s done,” Bochy said.
AT&T Park is basically just trolling Belt at this point. The good news? The next road trip takes the Giants to Houston and Cincinnati. If Belt is still swinging like this, he might pick up four or five homers in five games.
--- From earlier, my story on Tim Lincecum, who now has a 2.00 ERA through six starts.
--- Bochy wanted Yusmeiro Petit to have this role, one where he could help save the others in the bullpen but also contribute to wins. Tonight Petit pitched three shutout innings out of the bullpen to pick up his first career save. He’s the first Giant with a three-inning save since Guillermo Mota in 2011.