SAN FRANCISCO Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford made astrong relay throw to the plate, catcher Buster Posey picked the short hop clean anddeftly applied a tag to the Padres Chase Headley.
It was a pretty, perfectly executed play from start tofinish as the Giants kept rolling along, this time to a 5-1 victory over theSan Diego Padres on Friday.
And Crawford knew what he had to do next.
I went through em all, Crawford said. I tried to kind of combine them all into one. Youve gotta go through four orfive hand signals. Its getting complicated.
Yes, it is. The Giants have the hunter. They have thesalute. They have the horns. Theres some kind of weird, two-handed gesture,too.
You'll have to ask (Ryan) Theriot, Crawford said. He made that one up. I dontknow what it means.
This is what happens when you combine youthful energy, acommanding lead in the NL West and a team that has all the talent andconfidence to make a sustained run through the playoffs.
I love it. I love it, said Angel Pagan, who started the officer-on-deck salute and flashes it whenever he reaches base. The hunt, the salute -- wevegot our own thing. Its to keep a positive environment and you keep it funwhile respecting others and respecting the game. I think its great.
If there is a keeper among the bunch, its the hunt. Backupcatcher Hector Sanchez cant remember the first time he pantomimed reachingbehind his back for an imaginary arrow, pulling back the bow string and lettingit fly. Sometime in August, as he recalls. But it caught on.
Hunt a base hit. Hunt a double, Sanchez said. Its justsomething funny I did, something I made up. If you get a hit, youve got tokeep doing it, right?
Sometimes I forget. Not Pablo. He remembers and does itevery time.
Oh yes. Pablo Sandoval has embraced the art of the hunt. Hespulling back the bow strings more often these days, especially after hitting four homeruns in a three-game span.
When we get RBIs, we do that. We HUNT, Sandoval said. Adouble, a base hit, when we get on base anything. Its good for the team. Goand play the game and have fun. Respect the game but have fun.
Sandoval is having plenty of fun with it now.
Yeah, because for a long time I didnt do nothing, hesaid, with a laugh.
BAGGARLY: Clinch looking like a cinch as Giants roll over Padres
Sandoval just developed his own special home run cheer with injuredcloser Brian Wilson, too. Once the Panda returns to the dugout, he and Wilson stand nose tobeard and jump around in close proximity like theyre at a Megadeth concert.
The hunt is a little less in your face. And it's good for any occasion, as it turns out.
Oh, you can reach on an error, hit a double play to score arun, thatll do it, Pagan said, smiling. Just do something to beat the otherteam. Thats how you hunt. Im the captain, theyre the hunters.
Joaquin Arias has his own signal, too. His teammates tapboth fists on the sides of their heads when he makes a great play, signalinghis deer-like swiftness in the field. The Arias horns and the Spanish shoutof venado -- have become part of the team-wide rotation now.
Finally, Theriot, not one to be left out of the action,began holding out his thumb, index and pinky fingers he may or may not realize that it translates to I love you in American Sign Language -- and waving them around like jazz hands.
Its a lot to remember. But there are some situations thatcall for the full medley and Poseys tag qualified, in Crawfords mind.
Yeah, I tried to do all the stuff, said Crawford, with asly smile, because I know Buster hates it.
The Giants relay in the sixth prevented the tying run from scoringand ensured that Ryan Vogelsong would stay in line for a victory. Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy called it the turning point in the game.
It began with left fielder Gregor Blanco, who went after thedouble in the corner aggressively.
When I was with the Braves, they told me when a guys at firstbase, never let him score, Blanco said. Always go hard to the ball. Thatswhat I did right there. The ball bounced to me and I made a good throw and Crawforddid the rest.
Your batting title update: Andrew McCutchen ended the day at.338. Posey ended it at .335.
One clarification from todays breaking news story on Melky Cabrera:
It isntaccurate to say that he removed his name from consideration for the battingtitle. A player can no more do that than he can change the box scores to add orsubtract hits. Cabrera will end the year with the stats he accumulated. That isthe simple fact.
What happened is that Cabrera requested that the league and unionamend the rule that would automatically give him an extra at-bat to have the 502plate appearances necessary to qualify for the batting title. Players who don't have enough plate appearances to qualify are not recognized in the official league leaders. Cabrera, with an extra at-bat, would still lead the NL with a .346 average, so an exception would be made in his case. There was precedent with Tony Gwynn when he won the batting title in 1996.
RELATED: Bochy commends Melky Cabrera
Here's the wrinkle: The actual qualification threshold is not 502 plate appearances. Rather, a player is qualified if he averages atleast 3.1 plate appearances per games that his team played. For a 162-game season, that's 502 plate appearances. But in the unlikelyevent the Giants were to rain out or have some other instance that would causea game to be cancelled down the stretch, the number of plate appearances wouldchange. For a 161-game season, the threshold to qualify would be 499 plateappearances and Cabrera, with his 501 plate appearances, would win the batting crown no matter what anyonesays or does.
Its an odd, unique and complicated situation. But then, italways is when youre talking about baseball statistics andperformance-enhancing drug use.