Seriously, "The Kung-Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval may be my favorite Giant since Matt Williams...who ironically also played third base as well.What the heck man! Where the hell did Eugenio Velez come from? Seriously, you want to know who has been the best hitter this week? Look no further than Velez who has been swinging an incredibly hot bat. Velez went 3-for-5 in tonight's 7-2 win and drove in 3 RBI for a Giants offense that couldn't buy a run last week. I don't know what has gotten into him. I don't know if he knows that this is his last hurrah at the Major League level and he is doing all he can to stay, or if he has seriously improved as a player. We need more than a week to come to a decision on that. All I do know is that I have fallen in love with Velez all over again like I did back in Spring Training a year ago when he was absolutely tearing it up, and I thought he could be the Giants' leadoff hitter of the future.
Of course, it wasn't all Velez tonight. The Panda named Pablo Sandoval once again came up money as he went two-for-four with a home run into McCovey Cove, and a two-run double on a pitch from ex-Baltimore Oriole Rodrigo Lopez that looked low and out of the strike zone. This guy certainly has a mojo at this park that you just don't see on the road. I mean, it's not like the Giants have a great hitters park either. He plays in a pitcher's park for chrissakes! Yet nonetheless, he still is crushing the ball at AT&T, much to the enjoyment of Giants fans. Hopefully the Panda continues this momentum at home, especially in this series where the Giants will seriously need to generate some offense. The Giants won't be able to get away with any 1-0 games like they had in the Pittsburgh series. This Phillies offense is too good.
Speaking of the Phillies offense, where did they go tonight? Credit Jonathan Sanchez (With Freddy Sanchez now on the team, I will have to refer to him by his first name or at least first initial) for throwing a hell of a game. They guy really did deal tonight, even though he only went 5.2 innings. He had seven strikeouts, and only gave up two runs (which came from a bad first inning and a fluke homer where he tried to get macho after Utley stared him down after a ball zipped by Utley's head). In my mind that was a great start. He got a lead and he was able to pitch well with one. You have to give Sanchez credit for that. Furthermore, I wasn't too angry with Bochy pulling Sanchez. He was near the 100 pitch count and if he gave up another run, his confidence would have gotten shelled. After his no-hitter, and with Johnson on the DL, we need to be careful with our development of Sanchez, and I felt Bochy did the right thing with Sanchez in the sixth. Sanchez has nothing to be ashamed about. He had a great start and I really believe he is a better pitcher than he was in the first couple of months in the season.
Overall, a big win for the Giants to start off this series. This is a very crucial series that could be a measuring stick for this team. However, with us being back over .500, and coming off two trade deadline deals this week, I think we are building some much needed momentum as we enter August. I'm not too high on Sadowski tomorrow (especially with him pitching against new Phillies acquisition Cliff Lee), but if the Giants can swing the bats like they did tonight, than Sadowski won't have to worry about much. If Sadowski has showed us anything, he has showed that he can pitch with a lead, as evidenced by his two wins.
Postgame box notes:
Winning pitcher: Jonathan Sanchez (4-9) 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO.
Losing pitcher: Rodrigo Lopez (3-1) 4 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO.
Giants standouts: Eugenio Velez, 3-for-5, 2B (3), 3 RBI. Pablo Sandoval, 2-for-4, 2B (30), HR (16), 4 RBI. Edgar Renteria, 2-for-4.
Phillies standouts: Chase Utley, HR (23). Ryan Howard, 2B (23). Jimmy Rollins, 2B (27). Ben Francisco (1).
Probable starters for next game: Lee (first start in NL) vs. Sadowski (2-3).