Aaron Rowand

Unit hits DL, but at least Pablo Sandoval’s healthy

It was about as depressing a scene as you can imagine. After 36 hours on a windy houseboat, and a 4th of July without fireworks, we tiredly drug our sunburned bodies into a 2006 Honda Accord that could have doubled as a hot air popcorn popper.

Good and bad news on the radio — the Giants had followed up their 13-0 victory on Friday night with a 9-0 laugher dominated by Tim Lincecum, a game which apparently wasn’t televised to the Bay Area due to Fox and their ongoing attack on society at large. Unfortunately, it was hard to imagine a scenario where the Giants completed a sweep of the Astros, but there was no choice during that drive from Lake Oroville to San Francisco than to listen to the entire game anyway.

With the Giants going against Roy Oswalt, Houston’s best pitcher, they were already in trouble. Throw in the fact that Pablo Sandoval wasn’t playing due to what Bruce Bochy called a “bruised knee” from sliding into home plate the day before, and the fans in attendance might have sensed they weren’t exactly in for a great show. Kind of like those Sunday Giants games you’d go to in 2004, when instead of Barry Bonds, Marquis Grissom, J.T. Snow and Ray Durham, Felipe Alou would lovingly hand the fans an unwelcome helping of Ricky Ledee, Jason Ellison, Damon Minor and Neifi Perez.

Then, the moment we saw the on-ramp headed to HWY 80 (which was moving at about 2 mph at the time), Randy Johnson swung his bat awkwardly and did something to his shoulder.  Strained rotator cuff? The injury might as well be called “PC Load Letter,” because nobody knows what the f— it means. Could mean the Large Unit sits for three-to-six weeks and comes back rested and refreshed; could mean he has to choose between surgery and retirement.

So then followed the least surprising 7-1 loss of all time, which brings us to tonight.

Pablo Sandoval was back. He wasn’t injured; he didn’t have some sort of “knee strain” which would lead to a lengthy DL stay. So thankfully, instead of a day of mourning the loss of the Giants’ third-best starting pitcher, it was impossible to do anything besides celebrate the return of their best hitter (who hit a positively Kevin Mitchell-in-1989 grand slam tonight). And oh yeah, see Matt Cain pitch the day after being officially named to the NL All-Star team.

Cain handled the pressure of living up to his All-Star selection pretty darn well, for six innings anyway. On the other hand, “Life of” didn’t fare so well trying to prove his All-Star snub was actually a snub, and not just recognition that he isn’t as dependable as Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Ryan Franklin, F-Rod and the extremely fat Jonathan Broxton.

Brian Wilson may have hit 100 mph on the gun (which at Mays Field has always been a touch exaggerative) tonight, but he came damn close to losing a game the Giants dominated throughout. His 3-2 counts and that awful decision to throw a Ken Dorsey-like floater to second base on that comebacker were evidence that Wilson’s focus was wavering. Was it because of the All-Star thing, I’m not completely sure. Maybe the battery ran out on his Handicam before the game.

It’s pretty easy to forget that Wilson was fairly dominant for a 13-game stretch, and I still think Wilson is a better closing option than anybody else on the team. However, if Papa Dubs doesn’t put together a few relatively easy saves sometime soon, it’s going to be extremely difficult to keep watching his weird slow-blink visualization thing late in the season without suffering some seizures of my own.

But hey, who am I kidding? This night was about Sandoval. He’s not only the best switch hitter the Giants have had since Bobby Bonds, he’s also the most popular guy on the team. Aaron Rowand yanking Fat Ichiro by the shoulder out of the dugout and onto the field for a post-grand-slam curtain call was classic; Sandoval’s elaborate hand shake with Fred Lewis was even more telling.

Lewis, who’s in the midst of watching his career as a starting Major League outfielder go down the drain with each Nate Schierholtz outfield assist, was excited enough by Sandoval’s success that he was the first guy to meet him in the dugout.

Sandoval has that effect on everyone these days. He’s currently leading in the “Extra Five” vote for the last All-Stars in the National and American League, thanks to people like me who voted for him at least 50 times yesterday. And I’m sure there are thousands who’ve surpassed my total by several votes, because the man they call Kung Fu Panda causes the opposite of apathy.

So I guess it might sound ridiculous, but I really believe our whole drive home yesterday would have been better had Sandoval played yesterday. No traffic. At least a couple base-hits off Oswalt in the first four innings, instead of zero. Maybe the Unit would have even stayed healthy.

Oh well, at least Sandoval’s OK. And that makes it hard to dwell on the negative for long. Don’t forget to vote.

Even more Giants stuff…

  • “The Freak and the Panda, winning over the Giant-hating media one scribe at a time.” (El Lefty Malo)
  • Emmanuel Burriss fractured his foot, putting him on the DL in Fresno. He’s currently at .268/.312/.366 in Fresno with 1 homer, 6 steals and 3 errors through 17 games. (Extra Baggs)
  • We’ve found the only Giant fan who actually boycotted the team because of Barry Bonds. Because of El Pandito, this baby blogger is back on board. (The Poop)
  • Before this whole “Vote 4 Pablo” thing, there was really no reason for Mays Field to have Wi-Fi. Now, it’s almost defensible. Almost. (MLB.com)
  • Ryan Sadowski’s career is way more interesting than a unnamed baseball movie starring Dennis Quaid that I may or may not have watched at the defunct Skyview Drive-In in Santa Cruz. Rest in peace, Skyview. $6 double-features and $2 nachos were one hell of a combination before the old place closed down. Anyway, pretty great column here by Scott Ostler, probably because he’s allowed to write more than 250 words. (SF Gate)
  • “When an instrament beckons one to the mysterious dance, many otherwise “enticing” social options become 2nd best,” wrote BarryZ from mobile web (June 23). I guess social media takes a back seat when your ERA gets close to 5.00. We’ll see if that upward trend ends against Josh Johnson on Tuesday. Yikes. (Twitter)
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