One of the things that you’ll notice after watching the San Francisco Giants play at home several times in 2012: from time to time, the opposing team will make hitting home runs look startlingly easy. The Atlanta Braves interrupted a perfectly placid 1st inning for Ryan Vogelsong with an opposite field shot by Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman (who looked dreadful last night against Barry Zito) clubbed one into the bleachers in right center in the 2nd.
Freeman later followed up with another HR (his 17th) in the 7th, a blast that ended Vogelsong’s night.
Home runs aren’t everything, which is good news for the Giants because otherwise they’d be 26-37 at home or worse — instead they’re 37-26 at Mays Field. It’s not that the Giants are powerless, as Pablo Sandoval missed an opposite-field homer by about a foot and a half and Brandon Belt hit a double deep in the right field gap that Heyward couldn’t track down.
But the Giants’ power lies not in home runs these days, it’s in the hands, wrists and feet of Angel Pagan. After his third hit of the night, a single to left, I joked that you can also follow Angel Pagan on Twitter: @TheNewMelkyCabrera. As far as I know Pagan’s not on Twitter, but rarely do you see a player step into such a massive void while also almost perfectly emulating the guy who left (and by “left” we mean he peed enough testosterone in a cup to make Triple-H blush, then had one of his lackeys create a fake website to try and fool MLB).
Sure, Pagan got picked off after that last single (I missed the replay, but a lot of you thought he was safe), but four hits. That’s the second time this month he’s done that, and tonight was also his 10th multi-hit game in his last 21 games. He has 18 hits in his last eight games.
This 7-second video does a good job of summing everything up:
— Pagan talked about wanting to bring the same kind of aggressiveness to the Giants that Jose Reyes brought to the Mets when they played together (32 seconds):
— Part of the reason why Pagan is having so much fun was because Brian Sabean traded for Marco Scutaro. Otherwise, Ryan Theriot would be hitting in between Pagan and Sandoval (who should hit a HR any day now), and the Dodgers might be standing pat right now.
— Javier Lopez has been by far the most dependable reliever as of late, and he saved Bruce Bochy from having to use Clay Hensley or Jeremy Affeldt, who couldn’t get the job done the night before after Barry Zito left in the 8th. I was surprised when I went back and saw that Friday was the third time Lopez has pitched pitched 1 1/3 innings this season.
I had to wait to get any one-on-one time with Lopez this evening since he was very popular, but patience paid off! I asked him about going longer than one or two situational at-bats, as well as if he was surprised when Bochy had him pitch the 9th.
— If the Giants weren’t winning, people would probably have started booing Hunter Pence by now. After all, they booed Carlos Beltran last year whenever he’d ground into a double play, and after his DL stint he was easily the best hitter on the team.
— Not to harp on the fans, but … why did so many leave tonight after the bottom of the 8th inning? Because it was 10:03 pm? IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT, AND NONE OF YOU LIVE WITHIN A MILE OF THE PARK. STAY AN EXTRA 15 MINUTES. Sorry, just needed to get that off my chest. Maybe I’d feel better if I had a bat in my hand that I could slam on a bench like Bruce Bochy, anytime someone asked him about the Dodgers’ trade before the game.
— It took until Scutaro’s over-the-shoulder catch and belly slide to catch this, but the outfield grass looks to have fully recovered from that Roger Waters show back in May. For all I know the lawn could’ve been perfect weeks ago, but I was too busy shaking my head while listening to drunken fans call Hector Sanchez “Pablo” to notice.
— My mom was at the game, so during the 5th I ran out and said hi to her in Sec. 112. On my way back to the press box, an older Giants employee (a food vendor, I think) with a very hoarse voice was walking into an elevator and saying, “You know we going to that World Series. We gonna face them Yankees.” We’ll see, hoarse Giants vendor guy. We’ll see.
— Ryan Vogelsong allowed three homers and not much else on Friday night. “Things were definitely better tonight. I still need to get better. It’s just weird how I went from being pretty locked in to all the sudden kind of off course a little bit,” Vogelsong said.
Usually I break up the videos I shoot into one-minute increments (or shorter), but I had a hard time chopping up this interview with Vogelsong because the whole thing is pretty good. Vogelsong starts by talking about the mechanical flaw he detected after watching video of his previous two starts, and finishes by lamenting his year as a hitter. “I’m bad right now,” Vogelsong said.
If there’s a professional athlete who’s harder on himself, he or she probably has one rich sports psychologist.