Extra Baggs: Crawford still believes Giants can win it again

Crawford finding his swing again?

Extra Baggs: Crawford still believes Giants can win it again
July 13, 2013, 12:30 am
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Brandon Crawford is 11 for his last 21 after reaching base four times in Friday’s 10-1 victory over the Padres. (AP)

SAN DIEGO – Brandon Crawford is in the middle of everything these days.

He crashed into umpire Tim Timmons on a foul pop that actually hit the line in the third inning Friday night. He was prowling between first and second base in the seventh, when Kensuke Tanaka was awarded third on an obstruction call.

Remember, Crawford lost an RBI on Tuesday when his single hit umpire C.B. Bucknor. And when the Giants had another obstruction call go their way earlier this season, in a rundown at Pittsburgh, it was Crawford who slammed into Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez before being awarded the plate.

“I’m 2 for 2 in rundowns,” he deadpanned. “Just saying.”

Why is he in the middle of everything?

“I’m the shortstop,” he said. “I’m supposed to be.”

Crawford also finds himself in the middle of a hitting surge at the plate. He’s 11 for his last 21 after reaching base four times in Friday’s 10-1 victory. And with No.7 hitter Kensuke Tanaka getting on base via singles, bunt hits and walks, the Giants are turning over the bottom third of their lineup again.

Crawford had been in a 1-for-28 slump before then, and he still entered Friday’s game 4 for his last 40 with runners in scoring position. No wonder that single last Tuesday that struck Bucknor, with Nick Noonan at second base, was so galling.

But he and the Giants were caught in a pickle of sorts, and bumping into a fielder wasn’t going to solve this one. Crawford had to play through two sprained fingers because Joaquin Arias was out of commission with a hamstring injury. He didn’t have his timing back after missing a handful of games, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy had to keep running him out there against left-handers. The results were not pretty.

“He’s starting to come around now and get better swings off,” Bochy said. “I do think (the finger injury) is behind him. It does take time with your hand. There’s no question it was affecting him, and it was tough to give him a day. He looks more comfortable now.”

Said Crawford: “I just feel my rhythm and timing is back. The first week or two coming back from the finger injury, the swing didn’t feel right. Now I feel good again.”

The Giants might be starting to feel good again, too. A two-game winning streak is a blip in a 162-game season, but when you haven’t won back-to-back games in nearly a month, it can be cleansing rain for a club with bruised confidence.

What would two more do? What if the Giants could finish with a series victory here at Petco Park. 

“It’d be huge,” Crawford said. “We know we’re still a good team, no matter what happened in the past month. There’s a lot of time left. We had a great second half last year. We feel if we do that again, we can be right back in it, and we can win it again, I think.”

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Why did Timmons crash into Crawford? Well, he didn't expect the shortstop to be there. Crawford said he raced toward the line when it became apparent that Pablo Sandoval lost the ball in the dusky sky. Crawford saw it the whole way. But Timmons obviously lost the ball, too, and he didn't account for another player coming up behind him. Timmons called the ball foul -- even though the chalk mark at his feet offered evidence otherwise.

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Bochy usually meets with his club a few days before the break, just to remind the players to keep their focus on the field and finish strong. That message was even more imperative this time, as the season was splintering all around them while losing 14 of 16 before arriving at Petco Park.

They held that meeting prior to Thursday’s game.

“The last thing we need to think about is the break or what our plans are,” he said. “You don’t want to finish on a rough note. I like the way these guys have kept their focus out there, too.”

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Pablo Sandoval has drawn a walk in five consecutive games. He’s staying back on pitches better. When he is catching balls on the barrel, they are traveling. That’s a good sign that he’s clearing his hips and getting off better swings.

Hunter Pence? He was 1 for 6 amid a 10-run night. The Giants won’t be on any true road to recovery until they get both of those guys hitting again.

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Seeing a 31-year-old reliever take his first big league plate appearance? That never gets old.

Jean Machi tapped the dirt from his cleats like he knew what he was doing. He took a pretty good cut on a Huston Street fastball while fouling it off, too. Street must have noticed that Machi is more athletic than the average bear. He threw two sliders and struck him out.

Mijares said Machi was bragging all week about his hitting.

“What I see today? Bad,” Mijares said.

It gets worse. Machi wore Mijares’ helmet. Mijares’ name was on the back for all to see.

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Posey arrived at his locker just as I was about to head upstairs. He asked if I needed him.

“No, I know you don’t talk after five-RBI games. Only five-hit games,” I joked.

“I didn’t talk after that one, either,” he said.

Considering that he caught all 16 innings that night against the Mets, it’s quite understandable.

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Is Crawford crazy for thinking the Giants could win the World Series this year?

Well, let’s put it this way: No team has ever been 10 games under .500 through 90 games and won it all. But two teams have come back to make the playoffs: The 1973 Mets and the 1984 Royals.

A better precedent: The Giants are 6 ½ games out now, and in fourth place. In 2010, the Giants entered the All-Star break four games out, and in fourth place.

Strange things can happen. They already have. Edgar Renteria has a World Series MVP trophy to prove it.

 

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