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 — The flight from Miami to San Francisco is one of the longest in the league. It will not be a happy one.
The Giants fell behind early and never recovered, losing 8-1 in the series finale with the Marlins. The Giants had won six of nine entering the road trip. They dropped a series in Washington D.C. and then lost two of three to the Marlins.
You are here already, so here are five things to know …
—- Matt Cain deserved better in the first, and it was kind of a stunning error that cost him. With two outs, Brandon Crawford dropped a liner that was hit right at him. The next batter, Tomas Telis, hit a two-run double.
—- Cain was charged with five runs in four innings, but only two of them were earned. He struck out seven and walked just one, showing a good curveball throughout. Several times, he dropped down for a new look. Like I said, he deserved a bit better than that final line.
—- Pablo Sandoval’s walk in the eighth was his first since returning to the Giants. His numbers, by the way, are right in line with his Boston numbers.
—- Albert Suarez has seen his stuff take a tick up during this stint with the Giants, but it’s not leading to results. After giving up a walk-off grand slam on Sunday, he allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings in relief of Cain. Suarez currently has a 7.43 ERA.
—- Giancarlo Stanton was 2 for 4 with two singles. His run of six games with a homer came to an end. I suppose that’s a small victory for the Giants?
Because we are too cool to allow the games to sustain us and because we all think the purpose of sports is actually not to be the best player but the general manager, the new item on the baseball menu is not the pennant races but “Where should Giancarlo Stanton go?”
The usual suspects are listed – the Yankees, the Giants, the Chunichi Dragons, Real Madrid – and the $295 million still on his contract is not considered an impediment.
But the logic behind the Marlins keeping him is just as clear and more pressing. Namely, Bruce Sherman, the incoming owner, and Derek Jeter, the designated face, did not buy this team and promptly try to make themselves detested by the few people who still care about it.
So far, we know that the monstrous thing in center field (no, not Christian Yelich) is likely to be torn down, and that Stanton is don’t-go-to-the-bathroom-during-his-half-inning entertainment. Beyond that, we know only that the Marlins draw when they win a lot and barely at all the rest of the time. They are clearly a distant third in a four-team race with the Dolphins and Heat for people’s hearts, and now that hating Jeffrey Loria’s living guts are off the table for the fans, there really is no there, there.
So what’s the up-side of moving Stanton (and before we go any further, the Giants don’t have nearly enough assets to make that work, so calm the hell down) for the Marlins? Prospects, the dark hole that makes a three-year plan a six-year plan.
And the down-side? Sherman may as well move the team for the level of fun he’ll get from it, and the only reason to buy a team looking at a $60 million loss is for the fun. Besides, onlky a very few owners have ever made the full turn from villain to hero – the first impression almost always lasts forever.
So while Stanton may create immediate wallet relief for this aggressively average team (their current record of 57-61 is the 12th best in their 25-year history, and they’ve only had eight winning seasons ever), they also have nothing to sell the fans that they have to live with every day. And if they don’t have enough fans . . . well, I hear San Jose is always hot for a mediocre franchise that lurches between spending money and hoarding it.