Programming note: Giants-Rockies coverage gets underway today at 5 p.m with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – With a touch of humor, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is comparing his Panda to a cat.
Pablo Sandoval has turned in some standout plays at third base each of the last two games, and he and Bochy both attribute that flashy defense to the weight Sandoval has shed in recent weeks.
“I feel great, I’ve got more range. I lost 20 pounds, man,” said Sandoval, who equated his weight loss to “a dumbbell” that he’s no longer lugging around.
was pivotal in Sunday’s 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, delivering a two-run triple in the eighth. He also ended the top of the first by leaping high to snare a liner off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. On Saturday, Sandoval went to his right and made a tough backhanded stop of Clint Barmes’ sharp grounder in the sixth, throwing across the diamond to get the third out and preserve a two-run lead for the Giants.
Sandoval nearly pulled off another gem in the seventh inning Sunday. He made a diving stop of McCutchen’s grounder to his left but scrambled to his feet and sailed a high throw that went for an error and allowed McCutchen to advance to second.
About seven weeks ago, Sandoval hired his brother, Luis, as his personal chef. He says the healthy diet has helped him drop pounds and get lighter on his feet.
“He’s really bouncing around so much better now,” Bochy said. “His reaction. … He’s dropped a few pounds and it’s helped him over there. He’s bouncing around like a cat. Sometimes he gets a little excited. He makes a great play, and we just gotta slow him down a little bit to finish the play. But he’s doing a great job over there.”
Even more significant to the Giants’ current needs, Sandoval delivered at the plate Sunday. With his team clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Sandoval drove a two-run triple to right-center that gave the Giants breathing room.
It’s been a disappointing offensive season for Sandoval, who’s batting .270 with just nine homers. He hasn’t gone deep in his past 135 at-bats. But over his last 12 games, he’s 17 for 42 (.405) with 11 RBI.
In line photo of Pablo Sandoval provided by USA Today Images