Bochy maintains faith in slumping Pagan, Blanco

July 29, 2012, 7:17 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO Everything went wrong in the Giants 10-0loss to the Dodgers on Saturday. Barry Zito got roughed up and the relieversthat followed him didnt fare much better. On the other side of the ball, theGiants bats strung together just five hits in the shutout loss. Dont forgetto throw in an error for good measure.Giants manager Bruce Bochy understands the significance of Sundays seriesfinale, even if he is hesitant to single out one game as more important thananother.Youre at home and the first two didnt go well, especiallyyesterday, Bochy said. All series are important, but this one sure. Theyvegot a tough pitcher going and we do too.The Dodgers tough pitcher is Clayton Kershaw, who owns a 6-3 lifetime recordand 1.45 ERA against the Giants.I hope we come out and play better ball today, Bochy said.Were quiet with the bats right now. We need to get those going.
After experimenting with Nate Schierholtz in the leadoff spot over the last week,Bochy is going back to a more prototypical leadoff man in Gregor Blanco Sundayagainst the Dodgers southpaw ace Kershaw. The left-handed Blanco has reversesplits, hitting lefties at a .272 clip this season, compared to .234 vs.right-handed pitchers. Bochy referenced that as one of a few reasons why hewent back to Blanco as his leadoff hitter.We need someone to spark the club, Bochy said. Last timehe gave us that spark. Hes done it in the past and he brings energy to theclub.Bochy is referring to the Giants mid-May struggles, which led to Blancogetting more playing time. Starting with San Franciscos road series win overthe Diamondbacks from May 11 to 13, Blanco went on a mini-tear that suggestedhe could be the true table setter the Giants have been seeking for over adecade. From that series in Arizona until the end of the month, Blanco hit.310, got on base at a .424 clip, scored 17 runs and stole four bases. He alsowalked 14 times compared to just 18 strikeouts.Since that time, however, Blanco is hitting .216 with a .291OBP and has watched his playing time diminish as a result. Angel Pagan is also slumping, to use Bochys least favorite word, but hasntbeen punished with less opportunities. The Giants centerfielder, acquired inan offseason trade with the New York Mets for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez,had a terrible Cactus League performance, but didnt take long to get goingonce the games started to count. In July, however, Pagan is just 16-for-74(.216) and has gone 145 at-bats since his last home run. Bochy said that Pagan demonstrated an ability to snap himself out of funks likehe did after spring training, which is why hes still in the lineup regularly.He came out of it and took off, Bochy said. We need him,particularly with him in the five hole. He has the experience to come out ofit.Experience goes a long way, but plate discipline and pitch selection have beenPagans problem of late.When you dont see the ball as well as you were, youre notgoing to be as selective, Bochy said.Bochy needs to maintain faith in some of his strugglingplayers because he doesnt have many other options thanks to a banged-uproster.Pablo Sandoval just hit the disabled list and Hector Sanchez isnt eligible toreturn until August 2. Bochy remains confident that Sanchez will be activated once his 15 days are up,barring any setbacks, but isnt ready to go on record with a timetable forSandoval yet.Hes coming along but hes a ways away, Bochy said ofSandoval. No need to push him.

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