For the first time since their first game this Spring, the San Francisco Giants didn’t lose or tie. Instead they came back from 1-0 and 4-3 deficits to defeat the Oakland A’s 13-9, thanks to a 7-run 6th inning against former Giants lefty Travis Blackley.
Both teams combined for 30 base hits and 7 walks on a warm afternoon that signaled to everyone here that the days of hail and snow are over in the Valley of the Sun. It’s going to be warm from here on out, to the point where the people who run things at Phoenix Municipal Stadium may want to think about adding a little extra watering to their groundskeeping routine.
“Tough day for the pitchers with this hard infield, the way the ball’s carrying,” Bruce Bochy said. “Tough day to pitch.”
It was a tough day to field for Kensuke Tanaka, the 31-year-old Japanese infielder trying to earn a utility role this Spring. Tanaka can run and clearly has a good eye and knows how to work a count. He scored two runs and went 1-for-1 with two walks. However, he made two errors (one when he mishandled a ground ball, the other on an errant throw).
There were plenty of questions for Bochy after the game, because there are several Japanese reporters here following Tanaka as well as A’s infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima.
“It’s not easy, being a second baseman and going over there at shortstop. We’ve got some work to do. The infield is pretty hard, first ball (Tanaka) booted,” Bochy said. “He hasn’t been there that long. He’s been taking ground balls at short, but I know it’s going to take him a while to feel comfortable making the plays.”
Stolen BASGs, then some photos
– Brock Bond hit a two-run home run to left off Blackley, his second of the Spring. Bond also made a great diving play earlier in the game, and hit a double in his other plate appearance.
“We’ll be open minded. Obviously we’re looking at a couple guys with experience there. But the fact that he’s here, he did a great job last year and like I said he’s put up great numbers. He’s going to get some playing time,” Bochy said.
– Bond is an intriguing player with one of the more inspirational stories you’ll read about this Spring. The other guy who homered is a curiosity for completely different reasons. Angel Villalona, one of the Giants’ hottest prospects a few years ago before he became a suspect in the shooting death of a man in the Dominican Republic, hit a blast to center that left the park very quickly. In a day full of successful swings, Villalona’s first-pitch HR in the 9th off James Simmons brought the loudest result.
– Madison Bumgarner had a nice first inning then couldn’t get out of the second. Afterward he said he’s been working on a two-seam fastball, a pitch he hasn’t used for a couple seasons. “It’s going to be a big pitch for him. It’s going to help him use both sides of the plate,” Bochy said.
– A’s outfielder Michael Taylor is huge. 6’5″, 255, and made Villalona look small when they stood side by side at first base.
– Jarrod Parker was in midseason form, allowing one single and no walks in two innings. Parker struck out two, the same amount as the other eight Oakland pitchers combined.
– Gary Brown hit a ground ball triple down the right field line, showing off the kind of speed that has fans drooling and the Giants hoping he’ll figure out how to hit good pitching soon.
– Francisco Peguero and Brandon Belt were the hitting stars for the Giants among the guys who started this game. Peguero went 2-for-3 with a triple and Belt hit singles in his first three at-bats before grounding out to the pitcher in his fourth. Belt, the DH, made hitting line drives look ridiculously easy today.
– Lots of interesting things heard from the press box from the vendors. Of course there was the semi-famous, “Lemonade, lemonade like GRANDMA MADE!!!” But there were other ways of enticing the crowd that I have never heard before.
- “Cotton candy! Enthusiasm! Baseball!”
- “Beer is good. Cold beer here.”
- “Lemonade! Hey c’mon, seriously, lemonade!” (Pretty sure that didn’t come from the “GRANDMA MADE” guy.)
– In the 9th inning I had no idea how to get to the visiting clubhouse since I’ve never been to Phoenix Municipal before, and while wandering around I walked past Brian Sabean. Sabean must be impervious to heat, because he was wearing all-black (long-sleeved shirt and pants, to boot). He moseyed through the crowd with barely anyone noticing, and took a seat behind the bleachers down the left field line. He was keeping score on a sheet of paper he’d pull out and glance at after each pitch, and had a great view of Wilson Valdez making a nice backhand pick at short for the second out of the inning. A couple asked Sabean if they could take a picture with him and he obliged, but it’s hard to imagine him walking 10 feet at AT&T Park without getting mobbed. It’s just more relaxed here.
Those photos I promised