Sandoval Returns in Arizona
The Giants' third basemen was hitting just .195 on April 18th, but started showing signs of heating up in the latest home stand. Sandoval raised his average 100 points in about a week as he left Arizona with his average up at .292, where the Giants expect it to be, more where the Giants expect him to be. The "Big Panda" also hit his first home run of the season on Sunday, an impressive shot down the right field line that put the Giants in front late in the ball game. While righting himself at the plate, Sandoval has also looked a little more comfortable in the field. He made a nice snag on a line-drive Sunday in which he turned into a 6-3 double play. He's showing he's got the instincts to play the position, he just has to control himself on the balls hit in-front of him, especially the softly hit ground balls in which he has to rush his throw to first in order to have a chance at the out. But he's making strides and seems like he's getting better each night and that's all you can really ask for.
The same can't be said for fellow youngster Travis Ishikawa. The 25 year-old is hitting just .191 through his first 15 games of the season, a huge drop off from the numbers he was putting up during spring training. Once again a case that shows that you can't judge how a player will do based only on his spring statistics. I was expecting slightly below the league average as far as offensive output from Ishikawa, but I didn't expect him to struggle this much. The Giants will still give him a few weeks here to start off in May, but if he's still not producing on May 15th, don't be surprised to see some other guys used there. Possibilities for legit time at first include Jon Bowker ( .300 with 7 RBI in Fresno), Jesus Guzman (.412, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R in last 5 games in Fresno) and possibly even Nate Schierholtz, who the Giants are having trouble finding consistent at-bats for.
The Giants bullpen finally showed some vulnerability in Sunday's game. They had their chance to sweep the D-Backs after Pablo Sandoval's clutch 3-run home run in the top of the 8th inning. Not only did they lose the game, but they missed out giving Matt Cain his much deserved 3rd win of the season. Just as Sandoval hit that home run, the Giants announcers were talking about how the tide is changing for Matt Cain after getting virtually no support over the previously 2 seasons. Unfortunately for Cain though, Brian Wilson picked Sunday to have have his worst performance of the season and first official melt-down. It's no surprise that Wilson was behind in the count when surrendering the game-tying home run to Justin Upton. The dude has closer mentality and I think he's going to end up being a solid major league closer for the Giants through for the next 8+ seasons, but the guy has got to work on getting ahead of hitters and putting them away early. Plus, it would also be nice if he didn't party in Arizona on nights they have games the following day as he posted on his Twitter page before quickly retracting after the blown save. In all seriousness though, he has more than enough stuff to attack the strike zone early and I would hope that Dave Righetti and co. will start putting that in his head. Your not going to be a successful closer in this league if your consistently going 2-1, 3-1 on hitters, no matter what kind of stuff you have.