That’s what I’m talking about! The Giants won for the seventh time in eight games as Hector Sanchez got the start at catcher last night at Petco Park, his first start since April 15th. And he made sure it counted. After the Padres decided to intentionally walk Gregor Blanco to load the bases in the sixth inning with the Giants leading 5-0, Sanchez launched a deep home run into right field, his second career grand slam and first home run of the year.
Sanchez started the season with the Giants, but has played most of the year for Triple-A Sacramento as Andrew Susac has established himself as the backup catcher behind Buster Posey. Sanchez was hitting .280 on the season for the River Cats and with Susac on the disabled list with a sprained thumb, Sanchez once again has an opportunity to show the Giants that this 25 year old still has a lot of upside potential. Speaking of the ample playing time he received this year with Sacramento, he said “I was working on my swing.”
Rookie starter Chris Heston (10-5, 3.18) earned his 10th win on the season, equaling Madison Bumgarner’s win total as he held the Padres hitless through five innings, and allowed only a broken bat single in 7 ⅓ total innings on the night. Heston also walked two and struck out six in the eighth consecutive start that he’s allowed fewer than three runs. With all of the injuries the G-men have endured with their starting pitchers this season, you could make a case that without Heston, the Giants wouldn’t be in the hunt for another playoff run.
Petco Park has historically been a difficult park for the Giants to score runs, so last night’s nine run outburst was definitely an anomaly. “We’ve had tough times here off their pitching,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted. On this night however, the Giants were able to finally solve starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who came into the game with a 2-0, 0.91 line lifetime against them. “You had hitters who were attacking the zone,” Despaigne said. “They were hitting the ball hard.”
In all, the G-men offense was very efficient, with nine hits, four for extra bases, including three home runs. They were 2 for 4 with runners in scoring position and left only one man on base for the entire game. Hunter Pence started off the scoring in the second inning with a solo home run, his fifth on the year. And in the fourth, Brandon Crawford crushed a three-run homer, his thirteenth of the year, to give the Giants a 5-0 lead. Crawford finished 3 for 4 on the night, scoring two runs and driving in three.
With the Dodgers’ second consecutive loss, the G-men moved to within 2 ½ games of first place in the NL West as they look to take the series this afternoon when they meet the Padres for game three of this series.
Matt Cain (1-1, 5.06) makes his fourth start of the year and will face Padres starter James Shields (8-3, 3.92). Shields is 2-3 with a 4.66 ERA against the Giants in his career. Cain has pitched very well at Petco Park, recording a 2.33 ERA in 17 career starts.