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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sandoval getting hot at right time

When Brandon Belt went down with the broken thumb a few weeks back, the Giants were going to need someone to step up in his place. Now despite missing 1/4 of their projected 2014 lineup, they have managed to not only keep the team afloat, but become one of the more potent offenses in league.

Through the first 6 weeks of the season, Brandon Belt was off to one of the better starts of any hitter in this lineup and was pacing the team in home runs and seemingly coming up with big hit after big hit. However, as hot as Brandon Belt was those first few weeks in April, Pablo Sandoval has been hotter since the big first basemen went down with the fractured thumb. He continued his torrid May with a 1-3 with his 8th home run of the year and 2 runs scored. The Panda was terrible in April and didn't really get it going until the 2nd week of May when he had his first 3-hit game of the year (3-5) vs. the Dodgers on May 11th. Since that game, the all-star third basemen has 25 hits in 67 at-bats (.373) with 6 home runs and 17 RBI. His average was sitting at .175 on the 11th of this month, and now he'll carry a .247 mark into Friday's game in St. Louis. What was shaping up to be an abysmal walk year is starting to turn into something special for the big man. More importantly though, it's a big reason why the Giants sport one of the most potent lineups in the game, even with Brandon Belt and Marco Scutaro shelved and them not quite getting Buster Posey-like production from their franchise backstop.

I also wanted to recognize Hunter Pence's strong run this month as well. Pence is another guy who was really slow out of the gate (although not to Pablo's extent), and has really seen his bat come alive in May. Pence really just had a slow first couple of weeks, and has been raking since mid-April. It's not just the home run/RBI boost that we're used to seeing out of Pence either as he's really filling up the stat sheet. He's been used predominantly in the 2nd spot this month, and has done a terrific job there slashing .315/.386/.500 with 5 HR, 15 RBI and a whopping 32 runs scored in 44 games. For the year, he's scored 40 runs which slates him second in the NL and is second on the team with 7 steals.

Michael Morse and Angel Pagan have really been consistently solid since day 1, and Brandon Crawford looks like he's evolving at the plate but it's been Pence and Sandoval's recent surge that have really paced this offense and it's a good thing too because the starting pitching is really starting to pull it's weight. These two units are starting to get it going simultaneously and when that happens in apparent why the Giants have been the class of the NL throughout the first 1/3 of the season. The two starters who were lost for much of April have really gotten a grip on things. Ryan Vogelsong has been especially stingy lately, posting a ridiculous 1.64 ERA along with 3-1 record, 1.03 WHIP and 29 K's in 33 innings this month (not including Thursday's start). I'll admit that I was skeptical of Vogey coming into the year and throughout April, but he's thrown like the same pitcher that thrived here in 2011-12 long enough now that I think it's safe to say he's back. Tim Lincecum hasn't been as dominant as Vogey, but has gone 3-2 with a 2.86 ERA, 34 K's and 29 hits allowed in just over 34 innings. The only area over that span that's really weighing him down still is the WHIP (1.47). While none of his numbers really jump out at you right now, he's had only 2 starts this year in which he's allowed 4 or more runs, but what's still hampering him is his high pitch count forcing him to leave games early. He had to leave the game with a no-hitter in tact Wednesday after making it through just 5 innings, thanks to 4 free passes and too many 3-ball counts. Lincecum looks like he's on the up though, and that WHJP/ERA will keep on dropping and his innings pitched should spike if he can just stay in the zone with a little more frequency.

Extras: As far as the two injured Giants are concerned, their really is no update in Scutaro's rehab, as he's still trying to get different opinions from specialists on how to speed up the healing of his back. I certainly don't expect to see him anytime before the All-Star break, and still think it's better than 50/50 that he misses the entire season... Brandon Belt, on the other hand, does have a time table for his return but it's still a ways off. He was expected to miss 6-8 weeks, which would put him out anywhere from late June to after the All-Star break. Ryan Zimmerman had a similar injury to Belts in mid-April, and he's still a week or two away from returning (though his injury didn't require surgery to put pins into his thumb). With the offense performing well, the Giants likely won't rush Belt back and I'm thinking that after the All-Star break is most realistic... Matt Cain has battled some minor aches and pains throughout the early season is currently dealing with a sore hamstring though he is slated to start Saturday's game in St. Louis. With Vogey and Timmy coming around and MadBum and Huddy each throwing the way they are, the Giants would hate to disrupt the rhythm they have in that rotation so hopefully Cainer can alleviate all health concerns Saturday.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 11:25 PM, Anonymous The SCroll said…

    Panda's turnaround has been such a breath of fresh air after losing Belt.

    I don't think the team is missing Scutaro as much because Hicks has been good with the stick and not bad at defense too.

    What's up the bench though it seems like it's very weak right now, or is that just my imagination?

  • At 1:10 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    The bench has been a little weak lately. Blanco is doing slightly better, Sanchez is clutch but that's about it. Arias and Adrianza aren't getting much time.

    If Scutaro doesn't come back at some point before the trade deadline, they could very well look to add another infielder. When Belt gets back it'll deepen the bench a bit, but they're likely going to need another veteran who can handle second and provide insurance down the stretch.

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