SAN FRANCISCO -- Angel Pagan went 1-for-3 to extend his hitstreak to seven games while scoring the Giants first two runs in a 5-2 winover the Atlanta Braves Thursday.Giants manger Bruce Bochy experimented with other options in the leadoff spotand Pagan lower in the batting order, but its clear that the table-settingrole is Pagans moving forward.You feed off that guy, Bochy said. Hes leading off and what a job hes donesince hes assumed that leadoff spot. There are guys that get you going and setthe table and the tone and hes really picked up his game since hes gone tothe leadoff spot. Hes helped us so much getting these early runs, especiallydown in L.A.. And his defense and what hes doing at the plate, hes playing asgood ball as anybody.Since August 3, Pagan is hitting .366 with 23 runs scored, seven doubles, threetriples, two home runs, 12 RBIs, four steals and a 1110 KBB ratio. With the disgraced Melky Cabrera a long-shot to return to San Francisco as afree agent, fellow free-agent-to-be Pagan is definitely making a case to bere-signed by Giants GM Brian Sabean, as Insider Andrew Baggarly suggested lastweek.Pagan also had some issues earlier this season with bad jumps and taking poor routes to fly balls,but has been a lot better patrolling centerfield lately. He also made one ofthe best throws of the Giants season in Wednesdays series finale in LosAngeles.Bruce Bochy said he has four closer types in his bullpen.The group he is referring to includes two lefties, Javier Lopez and JeremyAffeldt, and two righties, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.Casilla was unavailable Thursday after pitching on back-to-back days Tuesdayand Wednesday against the Dodgers. Asked before the game if Casilla could takeback sole possession of the closer role, Bochy simply said hes now part of thecommittee. Every other member of the committee had to work in the ninth inningThursday, and despite Affeldts struggles, it worked.Lopez didnt get the save, but he got one of the biggest outs of the game whenhe struck out the potential tying run in Brian McCann.Hes throwing great, Bochy said of Lopez. Thats a bigout for us against a tough hitter. If he doesnt get that out, then the gamesgoing to get real tight at that time. Hes throwing probably as well as hesthrown. And thats saying a lot because hes done a great job with us.Everybody goes through their ups and downs, but hes really locating andpitching well with a lot of confidence right now and got a huge out there.Romo ended up with the save in the box score, and it was well deserved afterthe Braves had 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Heyward waiting topinch-hit and representing the tying run. Heyward avoided being doubled-up toend the game, but was still clearly the tougher assignment for Romo compared toJuan Francisco, the eventual final out.I respect that man (Heyward) and what hes able to do in the batters box so Iwent out there with my best stuff and was able to get a ground ball andeventually was able to save the game, Romo said. Really happy I was able todo that.Hector Sanchez has been in a prolonged slump since returning from the disabledlist August 2, including 10 straight hitless at-bats heading into Thursdaysgame. Bochy even said Sanchezs teammates were making fun of him for having ahole in his bat of late. Sanchez quieted his teammates and impressed his skipper with atwo-double, two-RBI game against the Braves.A great game all around, Bochy said of his young backstop.He caught well. Him and Z were in synch. Hes caught Z a lot and the bat camearound tonight. We were giving him a hard time that he had a hole in it in L.A.but hes a good hitter. I think getting some at-bats here with Buster Poseyneeding some rest has been good for Hector. Tonight he really came through withsome big hits and had some better at-bats and it looks like hes got his timingback.Sanchez was asked after the game if it was one of his best in the big leagues.For me, every game is amazing, Sanchez said. Its important for me,especially my first year with the team. I just try and do my job. I just tryand do my best, especially with men in scoring position.Sergio Romo was sporting a red and gold winter ear-flap hatwith a 49ers logo at his locker after the game.Romo told reporters he was a big fan of all things Bay Area, including the49ers, and that he went to a few games at Candlestick Park last season. He alsosaid he plans to attend a few games this year as well, baseball schedulepermitting, of course.I asked Romo, clearly a fan of what Jim Harbaugh has done with the team, whowould win a chess game between Harbaugh and Bochy.Romo surprised the media scrum by going with Harbaugh over his own skipper. Hementioned something about Stanford education, even though Harbaugh went toschool at Michigan and only coached at Stanford.Maybe Romo knows something we dont about Harbaugh sitting in on classes downon The Farm during his tenure there.No word on whether a Bochy vs. Harbaugh chess game can bearranged with one season ending and the other just about to get underway.
SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled.
A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman.
Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won.
Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day.
“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”
It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island.
The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied.
“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”
Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw.
“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.
No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.
“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”
The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.
“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”
SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse.
Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough.
In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies.
Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night …
—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season.
—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks.
—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit.
—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too
—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)
—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.