Extra Baggs: Crawford takes opposite approach

Bochy on Lincecum: 'I thought it was impressive how he kept his poise'

Extra Baggs: Crawford takes opposite approach
April 10, 2013, 12:45 am
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Brandon Crawford has eight career home runs, including two grand slams and three three-run home runs. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

I pretty much told you last year that I pick my spots. You can use that one again.
—Brandon Crawford on hitting big home runs

SAN FRANCISCO – There was a time when Brandon Crawford hit his share of opposite-field home runs.

Then again, there was a time he struck out far, far too often.

“I kind of changed things around,” he said after Tuesday’s 9-6 come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rockies. “I don’t swing that way anymore.”

[RECAP: Giants 9, Rockies 6]

The Giants shouldn’t count on rallying back with three-run, opposite-field home runs off Crawford’s bat, as they did in the sixth inning to erase most of a four-run deficit. It was Crawford’s first opposite-way homer in his major league career. And it was just his second in 363 career plate appearances at AT&T Park.

But Adam Ottavino fell behind 2-0, he supplied some of the power with a 94-mph heater – and Crawford was swinging with big eyes.

“We’re down four,” he said. “So to say I’m trying to hit a sacrifice fly wouldn’t really be true.”

Crawford caught the barrel, and the ball had just enough loft to slip over the fence in left-center. It was the first opposite-field homer he could remember hitting since he was rehabbing with Single-A San Jose in the Cal League playoffs.

Did he know it was gone?

“No,” he said, sheepishly. “I’ve kind of lost the feeling of oppo home runs.”

Crawford did try to elevate in that situation, thinking if he didn’t find a gap at least a sacrifice fly would bring in a run.

Instead, he ended up with his eighth career homer – and of those, two are grand slams and now three are three-run shots.

I ran that nifty stat past him and asked for a reaction.

“Well, I pretty much told you last year that I pick my spots,” he said, smiling. “You can use that one again.”

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As mentioned in my Instant Replay, Sergio Romo is 5-for-5 in save chances and he’s retired 15 of 16 batters faced, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out eight.

A little less drama than we saw in the Wilsonian, era, thus far. Last year, no Giant recorded their fifth save until May 5, when Santiago Casilla got there.

I wondered if any Giants closer had recorded five saves in the team’s first eight games. The answer is yes, two others accomplished that feat. One of them probably will surprise you and one probably won’t.

Rod Beck had five saves through eight games in 1997. And Matt Herges had five saves through the first eight games of the 2004 season.

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I used to disagree when Bochy often eschewed the bunt in a sacrifice situation, but I’m coming around. More and more, I’m realizing it doesn’t make sense to give away an out – especially in a situation like the fourth inning, when the Giants were down 5-2.

Bochy let Lincecum swing away with Crawford on the move from first base, confident his pitcher would get a cookie and make contact. At worst, Lincecum swings and misses and the Rockies need to execute a throw to nab Crawford. (Wilin Rosario is not winning Gold Gloves anytime soon, by the way.) At next worst, Lincecum (likely) makes an out and Crawford advances anyway. And if you strike it lucky, Lincecum pokes a single past a drawn-in third baseman and you advance the runner, get a bonus baserunner and don’t give away the out.

The Giants struck it lucky that inning but didn’t score.

A lot of managers would have bunted in the eighth inning after Andres Torres hit his leadoff double in a tie game. But Bochy preferred to give Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval three true shots to knock in the run – and Pagan delivered right away, with the tiebreaking single up the middle.

Pagan is hitting .364 and this was his second game-winning RBI. (OK, fine. The other was a bases-loaded walk. Still counts.)

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Hunter Pence has 1,000 career hits, and he’s up to seven RBIs in eight games after a pair of run-scoring singles Tuesday – including one to tie it in the sixth.

“I love where he is with his approach and balance,” Bochy said. “I love how he’s attacking the ball. He’s all out. That’s his style of play and you have to love it.”

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Marco’s back. It wasn’t just Scutaro’s three-hit night. It was the way he collected them. He looked like he was seeing the ball well again, and exercising terrific bat control.

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If the Giants can finish off a sweep of the Rockies on Wednesday, it’ll mean more than just running Barry Zito’s happy-day streak to 16 starts. It’ll also extend the Giants’ winning streak over the Rockies to nine games.

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Not only did the Giants win on a night when Tim Lincecum gave up six runs and Buster Posey didn’t lift a finger, but Triple-A Fresno managed to defeat former top Giants prospect Zack Wheeler, too.

Yusmeiro Petit was the winning pitcher. I am sure his experience starting 74 Cactus League games this spring helped him immeasurably.

 

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