The new Dynamic Duo in the Bay Area: Freddy Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval. Get used to this image a lot the next year-and-a-half in San Francisco.
In some ways, I tried to reverse jinx the Giants today in my Potent Preview. I tried to downplay today's game, tried to downplay how Paulino was pitching and how the team might get swept by a Houston Astros team sans Lance Berkman.
Well...guess what? It kind of worked! The Giants killed the Astros 8-1 in the second game of this series and, in the words of Harry from Dumb and Dumber, "Totally reedemed themselves!"
Seriously, I have forgotten all about the pain of yesterday's agonizing loss. The offense did what they were supposed to do against a lousy pitcher like Felipe Paulino: they worked the count, they looked for pitches to hit and they cashed in with runners on base. Furthermore, Jonathan Sanchez learned how to pitch with runners in scoring position, and looks like he could be a major factor in the Giants' rotation during this stretch run in August and September. And the Freddy Sanchez-Pablo Sandoval back to back home runs? Let's just say I felt like I did when I was reaching puberty and I saw Carmen Electra in a red dress in the movie "Good Burger" (I actually Tweeted this after the game).
Overall, this is the kind of offensive showing that exhibits what the Giants are capable of. Sure, on paper they don't look great, but any time they can get Bengie Molina and Sandoval going, this offense is certainly dangerous. I think the one player that can really push this team over the top is Freddy Sanchez. He really is swinging a good bat since coming over to San Francisco. He is hitting everything hard, and he could have easily gone three-for-four instead of just one-for-four today (though his one-for-four day certainly spoke volumes as he crushed that home run). I think the Sanchez trade in the end will not only be worth it (even though I liked Tim Alderson) because of what he will be able to do this year, but next season as well. Sure, Sanchez isn't exactly young, but he's not some old geezer either. He's only 31. I think he could have a very big impact next year, and his impact can be even greater once his knee gets fully healthy (though he's not showing much slowdown so far this year, but the knee will always be an issue for the rest of the season).
Another great development that Giants fans need to take quick note of is Eugenio Velez at the plate. This guy is just tearing it up. Seriously, once Schierholtz comes back healthy, the Giants are going to have serious issues...not in terms of what they are going to do with Velez, but rather in terms of what they are going to do with Randy Winn. In my mind, Winn is the weak part of this team right now. Velez is hitting the ball better than him, Velez has better speed and Velez is getting on base more (and he's been our best leadoff option in quite some time). The only advantage Winn has over Velez is defense, but as Velez gets more comfortable playing outfield, I think that advantage will be less noticeable. Then again, with Rowand and Schierholtz in the outfield, how good do we need Velez to be? It's not like he's Adam Dunn or Carlos Lee out there. He can cover decent ground.
Just a great overall effort from the Giants tonight. Both Sanchezes look great. Jonathan is earning his keep in the rotation not only this year, but next year as well (even though we lost the opportunity to see him go hit less for an entire season. Now that would have been a record: the first National League pitcher to throw a no-hitter, and get no-hit for an entire season). As for Freddy? He looks like he can be a Giants fan favorite in the future. Granted, we still can lose this series, but we avoided the sweep at the very least and we're going against a very vulnerable pitcher in Brian Moehler tomorrow (by the way, how the hell is he still in the league? I remember pitching with him when he was on the Tigers in MLB '99 on the Playstation).
Then again, we went against a vulnerable pitcher in Mike Hampton a night ago, and during that game we had a solid pitcher in Matt Cain pitching, not a rookie in Joe Martinez who is coming off the 60-day DL, and is making his first career start.
Postgame box notes:
Winning pitcher: Jonathan Sanchez (5-9) 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO.
Losing pitcher: Felipe Paulino (2-6) 4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO.
Giants standouts: Eugenio Velez, 3-for-6, 2B (4). Freddy Sanchez, HR (7). Pablo Sandoval, 2-for-3, HR (17). Bengie Molina, 3-for-5, 2B (20). Randy Winn, 2-for-4. Aaron Rowand, 2-for-5, 2B (27).
Astros standouts: Jeff Keppinger, 2-for-4. Carlos Lee, 2B (21).
Probable starters for next game: Martinez (first start) vs. Moehler (7-6).