Atlanta Braves

Giants turn power back on, Blanco (and son) get in on the action

After a night of darkness, the Giants’ offense roared back to life in a 10-4 win over the Braves on the hottest day of the year. Actually, that may not be true. It was pretty damned hot a few weeks ago if I recall correctly, which probably means the world is ending relatively soon. High 80s and even 90s in San Francisco? It’s too hot for tinfoil hats, so how the hell are we going to survive?

With dingers, that’s how. Lots of dingers, to all areas of the yard.

Hunter Pence erased a 2-0 deficit with one of the more remarkable homers I can remember seeing in person. He clubbed a high fastball into the first row of the arcade in right center, about 15 to 20 feet to the right of the 421 marker in triples alley. It probably would’ve ended up being a triple on a foggy evening, but even a ball that bounces off the wall on the fly is a hell of a poke.

The Giants sent all nine men to the plate in that inning, but only plated three runs. Gregor Blanco led off the second inning with a walk, just as he did in the first. He then stole second and third base, and scored on catcher Evan Gattis’ throwing error.

Gregor Blanco Giants Spring TrainingLet’s back up a bit. Blanco, after looking great all spring and reminding me of the guy I saw back in March of 2012 when he made the team as a non-roster invitee, was 4-for-39 on the season going into last night’s game. He hit a double in one at-bat yesterday, and with Angel Pagan resting a sore knee there was an opportunity for Blanco to start acting like a leadoff hitter again instead of swinging for the fences.

“I was off my game a little bit,” said Blanco. “I reminded myself, ‘This is who you are. That’s the kind of player that you should be. Just get on base, get walks, hit the ball and just be aggressive. If you are, then things are going to happen.'”

Blanco ended up stealing another base after a single in the fifth, becoming the first Giant to steal three in a game since Blanco himself did it on June 22, 2012 (according to the Giants PR staff). Pence drove in Blanco yet again with a single of his own, one of four hits on the day for the Giants right fielder.

“It was awesome,” Brandon Crawford said of Blanco’s performance. “He was our sparkplug today.”

Five innings was as far as Madison Bumgarner got, as he failed to earn a quality start for the third time in four home outings. He gave up two runs in the first on RBI doubles by Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson, then two more on another RBI double for Johnson and a run-scoring triple by Andrelton Simmons.

By the time the fifth rolled around, and the Giants had climbed back in front 5-4, things looked dicey. Bumgarner was nearing 100 pitches, and with a runner on first he faced the dangerous Gattis. Gattis drove a foul ball into the second deck in left field, just to the left of the foul pole. Then Bumgarner struck him out and celebrated a lot more than we usually see as he walked off the mound.

Video where I asked Bumgarner about his reaction:

“Our team, they battled to get the lead after I gave it up,” Bumgarner said. “I was doing my dangdest to keep it for ’em. That was a tough at-bat right there.”

The Giants kept piling on runs as the afternoon progressed, including a line drive homer by Michael Morse (who was two for his last 30 before that at-bat) into the left field bleachers in the sixth. Crawford clubbed a two-run home run into McCovey Cove in the eighth, the team’s 66th “Splash Hit” overall and their second in the series. The first was hit by Tyler Colvin, who picked up two more hits including a double before Crawford’s homer.

“I’ll tell you what, the offense picked me up today big-time,” said Bumgarner. “They played their butts off and battled for nine innings. They scrapped the whole game. That’s awesome to see.”

Extra BASGs

— Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-3 to move his average over .200 for the first time since April 1, but he was taken out early due to some pain in his left big toe. Bruce Bochy said he’d be fine.

“He’s coming around. He’s doing good. One thing about him, he’s had a good attitude this whole time. He hasn’t shown anything. If you came in the clubhouse you wouldn’t know whether he’s hitting .400 or .100. He’s been great,” Bumgarner said.

— The San Francisco Giants lead the majors in wins with 26, and have hit 49 home runs as a team. The “on pace for” thing seems silly, but they’re doing pretty well this season in both categories.

— Julio Teheran’s ERA was 1.71 going into this game. In two outings against the Giants he has allowed seven earned runs in 10.1 innings. He’s given up eight earned runs in 51 innings to everyone else.

— I asked Crawford what has led to his recent power surge: four home runs in his last 11 games after one in his previous 27.

“Not trying to hit for power, probably. Just trying to stay short, stay through the ball. That’s what I’ve been doing. You usually get a little carry on the ball when you do that,” said Crawford, who also talked about all the grounders he and Simmons hit to each other in the last couple weeks.

“It seemed like that. Same thing, kind of, in Atlanta,” he said. “It’s fun playing with another good defensive shortstop like that.”

— I actually wondered where Blanco’s three-year-old son was when we were talking to him, then at the end of his interview he crept in there. This is nothing new — he made his presence felt last year in the middle of media scrums around Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum and Brandon Belt (Lincecum and Belt were after the same game).

I shot a little video of Blanco’s son playing with Jen Cosgriff’s microphone in the clubhouse. I’m not sure whether he’s more interested in following in his father’s footsteps or getting into the media game. (Suggestion for the kid: if he can run and play defense like his dad, stick to baseball. It pays a little better.)
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