The Giants originally had their star third baseman's return scheduled for Tuesday next week, but after suffering through a scoreless game one vs. Texas Friday night, the Giants decided to pull the trigger earlier than expected.
|Pablo Starts Saturday|
After an offensive explosion of sorts in San Diego Thursday, the Giants returned home Friday night only to be shut down by Matt Harrison. It also didn't help matters that Barry Zito descended back into pre-2012 Zito for the start, as the Rangers knocked him around for 9 hits and 4 runs over 6 innings. Not the worst numbers from a number 5 starter, but it really didn't matter as the Giants hitters just couldn't figure out the Rangers' lefty. Harrison went the full nine, holding the Giants to just 5 hits with 5 K's. His outing kind of reminded me of classic Kirk Rueter performance when Rueter was on. He didn't overpower guys with a bunch of K's, but really neutralized the Giants bats with timely off-speed stuff and pin-point location. Now, that said, Harrison was hardly facing the Giants best lineup, as both Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey spent the night on the pine. Also, Pablo Sandoval hadn't been activated for the game so they were again without Panda, so Harrison beat the Giants, but he beat them without their three best hitters in the lineup. Specifically the guy who's been on fire lately and leads the Majors in hits, Melky Cabrera. Melky also was held out of Saturday's starting lineup as he's still recovering from hamstring tightness he suffered in Thursday's finale in San Diego. Taking his spot in the lineup has been the struggling Nate Schierholtz, who went hit-less in Friday's game. With Melky hurting, I think it was the final straw for the Giants in the decision to activate Sandoval.
|Vogelsong Dominates Texas|
The team had originally wanted Pablo down in the minors until Tuesday mainly for conditioning reasons, as he's admittedly added some weight since he went down with the broken hand on May 2nd. He looked a little anxious in his first game back, but did manage to come up with an RBI single to help put the game away for the Giants Saturday. The team got another fine performance from Ryan Vogelsong, who went 7 2/3 strong, holding the potent Rangers attack to just one run and 3 hits with 3 K's to pick up his 5th win of the season and sink his ERA down to 2.26. Clay Hensley ran into a little trouble in the 9th inning, giving up a solo homer to Mike Napoli then a walk, but Santiago Casilla, who looks completely healed from his knee issue he had last week, came in to shut the door for his 16th save. It was a complete 180 from the performance Friday night as the pitching, defense and hitting all aligned to produce a win. Another key to Saturday's victory was another great game from Angel Pagan, who reached base 3 more times and has now hit safely in 47 of his last 50 ballgames. Before the game Saturday, Bruce Bochy eluded to the fact that he still hasn't figured out how his lineup will shake out when Melky comes back, most likely Tuesday, but he did clarify that Cabrera will stay in the 3-spot. My guess is Pablo goes to cleanup, Posey to 5th and Pagan down to 6th. I think Boch likes what he's getting from Theriot in the 2-hole right now and won't want to mess with that either.
So, Pablo Sandoval's activation wasn't the only roster move the Giants made before Saturday's game. In addition to sending Brett Pill back down to Fresno, they also swapped out Fresno reliever George Kontas (acquired from the Yankees for Chris Stewart in Spring Training) with Steve Edelfsen. Kontas pitched well for the Yankees in his lone, brief stint in the bigs last season, and the Giants think he'll be better equipped to handle multiple-inning roles when needed. Also, Pill had been in a bad slump of late, so his demotion shouldn't be much of a surprise. It was between he and Manny Burris and Burris won out because he has no options left.