When the Giants thought up the dimensions of Pac Bell Park and created “triples alley,” this was not what they had in mind.
The Dodgers hit a franchise record-tying five triples, defeating the Giants 8-1 in the first game of this much-anticipated series. According to Giants PR, the previous record for triples hit by a team at this ballpark was three, by the Royals on June 7, 2005. Yasiel Puig had three triples, a double and at least as many bat-flips, leading the way for a Dodgers offense that scored six runs against Tim Lincecum in just 4 1/3 innings.
Zack Greinke struck out 10 in seven blistering innings, and the Giants — who looked overmatched from the moment the two teams put out their starting lineups — had no chance in Dan Uggla’s first game with his new club.
It didn’t look so bad at first, just one of those games where it was going to be difficult to scrape together a run or two against a tough right-handed starter who was on his game. Lincecum looked strong after allowing a run in the first inning, striking out six of the first 13 hitters he faced.
But when Hector Sanchez took a foul ball off his mask in the third inning, it seemed to set a tone … a depressing one. After a lengthy discussion with trainers, Sanchez caught the rest of the inning. Shortly after he struck out to lead off the bottom of the third, cameras caught him heading to the clubhouse.
“Hector has a mild concussion. So he’s going to miss some time,” said Bruce Bochy.
Bochy said he and Brian Sabean would talk about what to do, and the options would seem to include either bringing up Andrew Susac or Guillermo Quiroz from Fresno. Sanchez and Buster Posey are the only two catchers on the 40-man roster, so on the day the Giants designated two players for assignment (Jose De Paula and Nick Noonan), they’ll have to figure out who’s leaving next.
The punishment Sanchez has absorbed behind the plate has been a popular topic this season — not because it’s fun to talk about, but because it’s impossible to ignore the sheer number of times Sanchez has been hit with a baseball (or a bat). He took a foul ball off his foot on the fourth pitch of the game, but the sound the ball made when it hit his mask was cringe-inducing … and sad.
Lincecum was shaky, but perhaps he didn’t shake enough?
So what happened in that fifth inning?
“I got away from my plan. I didn’t throw as many breaking balls and sliders as I wanted to. I think those have been kind of the equalizer for me in keeping guys honest, making the 89 mph fastball look a little bit faster. I wasn’t doing that today, at least in that inning,” Lincecum said.
So I asked the following question:
Does your plan get affected when the catcher changes in the middle of the game?
“No, because we went over it between innings to make sure we were on the same page,” he said. “That was my fault. I should’ve shook more.”
There’s a good chance Posey will catch Lincecum’s next start, and they may work together several times if Sanchez doesn’t recover fairly soon. We’ll see if Posey calls for more breaking balls, or whether Lincecum shakes his head a little more often in response to the signs Posey puts down.
— The Dodgers won the World Series in 1981 and 1988. The Giants celebrated their first World Series title in 2010. Maybe scheduling “80s Night” during this series was a mistake.
— No magic from Uggla, who flied out to left and grounded out to short. Not that anyone else did much of anything against Greinke, who didn’t give up a hit until the fourth.
— No extra-base hits for the Giants, who scored their run in the ninth off Paul Maholm (it took a walk and three singles to get the runner home).
— Bochy smiled when he was asked to talk about Puig’s performance, but it wasn’t a happy smile. It looked like the smile of a man who was chewing on a mouthful of granite.
“I don’t really want to … I mean, he had a good night. I’ll say that. We made some mistakes, and good hitters take advantage of it.”
— Bochy was also pretty unhappy with that call in the first inning, when Puig hit a ball high off the wall in left-center. It appeared that a fan interfered with the play, and the Dodgers challenged the ruling on the field (triple, of course). The reviewers in New York kept Puig at third, a decision that sent Bochy out of the dugout to ask why it wasn’t a ground rule double. He got a little shot in on Puig when recalling that play, as well.
“That’s the problem I have. That’s what I was trying to do, review it again,” said Bochy.
“I understand it’s fan interference, but I don’t know how the play stands. When it hits a fan and the ball gets redirected, I don’t know how the guy gets a triple. It’s not like he shot out of the box, either.”